Dog Dental Care: How to clean your dog's teeth
Caring for your dog’s teeth is just as important as looking after your own. Like us humans, dogs may encounter a variety of teeth and gum problems throughout their life if their teeth are not regularly cleaned. Therefore, it’s important to practice good dental hygiene with your dog to ensure that they are kept in prime condition. It is recommended that the best way to keep on top of your dog’s dental care is to brush their teeth twice per day to keep their mouth healthy.
Read on to discover answers to many of your frequently asked questions surrounding dog dental care. Offering tips and advice on how to clean your dog’s teeth and discussing the best dog dental products available here at Direct4Pet to support both you and your dog on this dental hygiene journey.
How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?
The most commonly asked question among dog owners is how often you should be brushing your dog's teeth. As mentioned above, it is recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth twice per day with the minimum recommendation being 3 times per week in order to keep their teeth and gums healthy and in perfect condition.
However, we know that for some owners, this frequent teeth brushing may not be possible due to time constraints or your dog’s aversion to their mouth being touched. Therefore, we suggest buying dog dental chews as a way to ensure their dental health is being cared for if regular brushing isn’t possible.
What happens if you don't clean your dog's teeth?
Similar to humans, dogs can also suffer from a variety of dental problems if their teeth are not cared for properly, this includes, tartar, plaque build-up, gingivitis and gum disease. If these dental issues are not treated correctly, your dog can develop severe dental diseases that may result in tooth extraction or permanent damage to the underlying bones.
If you suspect your dog may have a dental health issue, look out for these following signs; bad breath, red or swollen gums, missing teeth, discoloration of teeth or changes in eating habits. If you notice any of these tell-tale signs, this may indicate that there is a dental hygiene issue - it’s vital that you contact your vet to ask for their advice and make an appointment to tackle the problem as soon as possible.
How to clean your dog’s teeth
Brushing your dog’s teeth is no easy feat, but by following our step-by-step instructions below, you can make your dog’s dental hygiene routine an uncomplicated experience.
- Get your dog accustomed to the taste of toothpaste. At first, the taste and texture of toothpaste will be unfamiliar to your dog which may make them more apprehensive about partaking in teeth brushing. Therefore it’s important that you let them taste their new dog-safe toothpaste prior to brushing their teeth - adding it into their usual food or letting them lick it off your finger under the disguise of it being a treat are easy ways to do this.
- Allow them to become familiar with their teeth being touched. In order to ease your dog into teeth brushing, you must first get them used to having their teeth touched by you. Ideally this should be trained from being a puppy, however, if your dog is older and a bit more nervous about their teeth being touched, you can start by gently rubbing a cloth along their gums with your finger.
- Add toothpaste to your finger and rub along their gums and teeth. Next, it’s time to get your dog familiar with the action of brushing. Try adding toothpaste to your finger and gently rubbing it along their teeth and gums so that they can get used to the action. Do this multiple times before brushing their teeth, at approximately the same time each day that you would brush their teeth, so that they come to expect it and are not shocked when it comes to using a toothbrush.
- Use a dog toothbrush. Now that they are familiar with their mouth being touched, the taste of toothpaste and the motion of brushing, it’s time to introduce a dog toothbrush. At first, we recommend using a small finger toothbrush for dogs, so that they can get acclimated with the sensation, and, once they are comfortable with this, you can then start to use a regular dog toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Time to start brushing. Gently hold your dog’s head still and simply lift their upper or lower lip to gain access to their teeth. Brush in a circular motion, paying particular attention to the gum line. Remember, there is no need to open their mouths fully and if at any point your dog looks uncomfortable, stop what you are doing and try again another day.
It’s important to note that it may take a while for your dog to get used to having their teeth cleaned and, for many dogs, it's a matter of building up trust with the person doing it. If possible, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to having their teeth brushed from a young age. However, if you didn’t get your dog as a puppy, then you can start brushing your new dog’s teeth as soon as they are fully settled into their new environment and comfortable with you touching their mouth.
Remember: Some dog’s may lash out if they are scared or uncomfortable with their teeth being brushed. This can be dangerous for both owner and dog, so it’s recommended to consider the importance of introducing the process gradually. Slow and steady wins the race!
What dog toothpaste should I use?
Human toothpaste is highly toxic to dogs which is why we recommend using a dog-safe, enzymatic toothpaste and dog toothbrush, both of which can be purchased here at Direct4Pet, or, alternatively, this can be provided by your vet, particularly if your dog is displaying signs of serious oral hygiene issues. For dogs that are sceptical about having their teeth brushed, try using a flavoured toothpaste that tastes like their favourite food such as Dorwest's roast dinner toothpaste (£12.49) or TropiClean Enticers Peanut Butter Cleaning Gel (£11.99).
Both of these toothpastes include specially formulated ingredients that help to clean teeth, protect gums, eradicate plaque and promote fresh breath. Featuring veterinary approved ingredients that offer antiseptic and antioxidant properties without damaging your dog’s teeth enamel, these toothpastes for dogs are a great way to kickstart your oral routine.
How do I keep my dog's teeth clean without brushing?
If your dog is against having their mouth touched in any way and teeth brushing seems impossible, then it’s time to find an alternative way to keep your dog’s teeth clean without brushing. There are two very simple ways to do that, give your dog a dental chew or add oral water into their water bowl.
Dental chews provide hygiene dental benefits to your dog whilst under the disguise of a tasty treat and oral water goes undetected in your dog’s water bowl to help clean and protect their teeth without the presence of a toothbrush.
Vibrac’s Veggiedent Fresh Dog Dental Chews (£13.89) offer a simple and healthy solution to removing plaque and tartar build up. Containing FR3SH technology that is designed to cleanse, cool and address digestive causes of bad breath, these chews are natural, plant-based and free of artificial ingredients yet are still highly palatable to your dog. Designed in a Z-shape to maximise prehension, this design allows the chew to help scrape away tartar everywhere around the teeth and gum line. Guaranteed to significantly improve dog’s breath from day 1 and will continue to help improve breath over a 2-week period, 90% of users highlighted the improvement in their dog’s breath after using these chews.
TropiClean’s Oral Care Water Additive (£11.99) not only supports your dog’s dental health but also includes ingredients to help support your dog’s digestion, skin, coat and joints.
Made with naturally derived ingredients, this unique blend effectively cleans teeth, defends against plaque and tartar and prevents bad breath. Simply add one capful per 473 ml of water to your dog’s everyday water bowl and enjoy fresher breath in 14 days or less.
How can I get plaque off my dog’s teeth?
The simplest way to get rid of plaque from your dog’s teeth is to regularly brush using an enzymatic toothpaste and dog toothbrush as directed above. However, if the plaque on your dog’s teeth is stubborn or you need some extra help, there are specially formulated products that can help eradicate plaque.
This PlaqueOff Powder for Dogs & Cats (£36.99) is designed to soften hard tartar deposits and stop plaque build-up. Featuring an active ingredient in seaweed, this all-natural product is free from preservatives, gluten and sugar and is a simple way to stop you worrying about the dental health of your dog. Simply add plaque off powder to your dog’s food once per day and slowly start to see the results overtime.
Virbac’s Vet Aquadent Anti Plaque Solution (£11.99) is a highly palatable, liquid solution that is diluted directly into your pet's water, to help control plaque. Featuring innovative FR3SH Technology, this oral solution is designed to help target the causes of bad breath in your dog. When used in conjunction with teeth brushing and dog dental chews, you can be sure that your dog will have the cleanest teeth and freshest breath possible.