Febuary is Doggie Dental Health month, and with a cause so close to our hearts, we are doing all we can to advocate for our canine companions.
Veterinary experts, including the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London, agree that at least 75% of dogs suffer from periodontal disease. It’s the single most common ailment afflicting pet dogs. That’s a staggering figure, considering that we owners can do so much to prevent gum disease or at least delay its onset and minimise its severity.
We can add so much to our dogs’ quality of life by caring for their teeth, even if they don’t see it that way while we’re brushing them! It might sound silly to brush a dog’s teeth, but knowing how to brush a dog’s teeth is important. It’s one of a few steps we can take to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
How to Brush a Dog’s Teeth
For starters, do not use a toothbrush or toothpaste made for people. Dogs have different needs, and toothpaste containing xylitol can be deadly for them. And dogs tend to prefer meat-flavoured toothpaste.
As soon as you get your dog, you should start gently handling their mouth – but it is never too late to start. Gently pull their lips up, and quickly offer a treat. Once they are used to this, try letting them lick something yummy off your finger and gradually get them used to you rubbing a finger on their teeth.
Once they are calm and comfortable with this, you can introduce a dog toothbrush. Start slowly with very short sessions to get your dog used to the toothbrush. Just let them lick the toothpaste off of it at first so they learn this is something pleasant. Work up to actually brushing their teeth very gradually. Never force it. This process can take several weeks, and any progress you can make will help your dog.
Treats and Tips for a Healthy Mouth
While brushing is key to healthy teeth and gums, there are some other ways to keep your dog’s teeth clean that they’ll probably like better. Dry dog food is better for their dental health than wet food, so making it their primary feed will help prevent problems.
Dental sticks such as Go Native Dental Super Sticks or our Leader Oral Pro Dental Sticks are formulated to control plaque and tartar build up, keeping your dog’s mouth cleaner and healthier. You can use them as a reward after a daily session of tooth brushing. A few dog toys on the market even help clean teeth with their texture. Nobby makes a cute rugby ball chew, and Trixie’s Denta Fun Ball has a mint flavour to help your dog’s breath.
When you bring your dog for their annual vaccines, ask your vet to do a complete check up including a dental check. Most dogs will need a professional cleaning occasionally, and your vet can let you know when and if your dog reaches that point. Dental care for dogs is crucial. In the early stages, periodontal disease causes discomfort that grows into real pain. Left untreated, it allows bacteria into the bloodstream. From there, it can damage the heart, liver and kidneys. Thankfully, a little consistent effort from owners can protect our dogs from that.