Following last week’s post about cutting your dog or puppy’s nails, I decided to continue the dog grooming mini series. This post provides some top tips on how to clean your puppy’s teeth in order to ensure healthy gnashers well into their adult life.
Why clean your dog’s teeth?
As the way in which we keep dogs has changed throughout the years, the amount of grooming required to keep your pooch in tip top shape has increased. With regards to teeth, this is because the natural diet of gnawing on bones and gristle, which helps to remove plaque and sediment build ups, is long gone and in most cases has been replaced by dog biscuits and wet food.
Cleaning your dog or puppy’s teeth will not only prevent bad breath and keep your dog’s mouth comfortable, it will also save you money in the long run, as tooth extractions and veterinary dental treatment can be a costly process. According to the PDSA, over 2 million pooches in the UK are suffering from dental disease, when with a good diet and regular oral hygiene, a dog’s teeth should last a lifetime.
How to clean your dog or puppy’s teeth
There are lots of different items you can use to brush your dog’s teeth, and no absolute right or wrong way. Some owners choose to use DIY toothpaste made of baking soda and water, while some like to use commonly available doggy pastes as an alternative.
Similarly, some dogs are more welcoming to a normal toothbrush, such as ones you’d use yourseslf, whereas some like the specific dog toothbrushes which are often worn on the finger of the owner.
As I try to keep my dogs from eating too many unnatural ingredients, I make my own toothpaste. Be careful when you’re making this though, as if it’s too strong my pups find it a bit too fizzy in their mouth! I also use a children’s toothbrush for my small pup, Delilah and a medium bristled adult toothbrush for my larger dog, Monty.
Once you’ve selected your desired paste and brush, sit patiently with your dog in an area they’re comfortable in, and gently open their mouth. Before brushing their teeth, I use this as an opportunity to make sure everything looks healthy, so:
- There is no noticeable difference in the smell of their breath
- There are no clear signs of rotting or decay
- There are no signs of over inflamed gums or bleeding
- There are no indications of abscesses or growths
- My dog is not unusually hesitant or cross about me looking in their mouth
Once I’ve done this, one side at a time, and with a pasted brush, I gently make circular motions on my dog’s teeth working from the back to the front. I find this easiest as dogs are often more patient with the front teeth, but get a bit restless if you’re holding their gums and mouth wide open for a long time.
You shouldn’t usually have to use any water or additional liquid to brush your dog’s teeth, but every brand is different so it’s best to read the instructions on the back to be sure. Similarly, brushing their teeth may make your dog quite thirsty, so be patient with them if they are excessively licking and swallowing, and be sure to have a bowl of water nearby.
As with most training and grooming, the more you brush your dog’s teeth, the more tolerant they should become. Some pups don’t really like it at first, but using something tasty to clean with will often tip the scales into teeth brushing being seen as a fun thing for your dog.
I try and brush my dogs’ teeth once every fortnight – it only takes 5 minutes so it isn’t really a burden for any of us. Another tip would be to give your dog bones and hide treats to chew on every now and then (supervised of course), as this can help to remove plaque too.
Does your dog love or loathe having their teeth brushed? Or do you have any other tips for brushing a dog’s teeth? If so, i’d love to hear them below!