Your dog’s health is inextricably linked to its oral hygiene. Regular maintenance of your dog’s teeth is a very important factor that should not be neglected, to ensure his comfort and prevent the development of sometimes serious diseases (dental abscesses, periodontal disease, and eventually loosening and falling of the teeth).
Why brush your dog’s teeth?
After each meal, a whitish substance is deposited on the teeth: this is dental plaque, a mixture of bacteria, food debris and toxins. When teeth are never cleaned, plaque develops, mineralises and turns into tartar. The proliferation of bacteria under this tartar causes gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and develops into periodontal disease, which can be prevented by regular oral hygiene. Bad breath (halitosis) is often the first sign of dental disease in dogs. Gingivitis around the teeth affected by this disease is characterised by highly inflamed, red, swollen and painful gums. Sometimes there is bleeding, pain when the dog eats and loose, shifting teeth.
If left untreated, periodontal disease in dogs can lead to abscesses and bacteremia (the presence of bacteria in the blood), which can spread to the heart, liver and kidneys and cause serious illness. If your dog has bad breath, don’t hesitate to see your vet for a full dental check-up.
Once tartar has set in, scaling (usually under sedation or general anaesthetic for your dog’s comfort) remains the only solution for treating and preventing periodontal disease. This involves mechanically removing the plaque and tartar present on each tooth. At a more advanced stage, surgical removal of the affected teeth may be necessary. Antibiotic treatment in addition to mechanical or surgical treatment can be effective when there is a risk of bone infection or of the infection spreading to the rest of the body.
How to clean your dog’s teeth?
Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to prevent tartar build-up and periodontal disease. It’s easier to brush your dog’s teeth if he’s been used to it from an early age. What’s more, brushing will help to strengthen the relationship between owner and dog.
Which toothbrush should you choose to clean your dog’s teeth?
Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to prevent tartar build-up and periodontal disease. Brushing your dog’s teeth will be easier if it has been used to it from an early age. What’s more, brushing will help to strengthen the relationship between owner and dog.
First of all, you need to choose the right toothbrush. Soft » toothbrushes for humans may be suitable. Those specially designed for dogs are generally smaller, with a triangular head and a longer handle to reach the teeth at the back of the mouth. For the first few uses, it may be easier to use a fingernail, which allows the dog to get used to toothpaste and having something in its mouth. Here’s an example of a brushing kit: Virbac Kit de Brossage Dentaire
Which toothpaste should I choose for my dog?
It’s advisable to buy a toothpaste specially designed for dogs’ oral hygiene. Toothpastes designed for humans are not meant to be swallowed and are often flavoured with mint or chlorophyll, the taste of which is not much appreciated by our dogs. These special toothpastes do not require rinsing and can be swallowed by the dog without any danger. Most contain enzyme complexes designed to prevent and treat dental plaque from its earliest stages. They are generally more abrasive than human toothpastes.
How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?
Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth every day, or at least 2 or 3 times a week. Starting with puppies (even if brushing baby teeth is pointless as they’ll fall out!) helps to educate them and teach them to accept having their teeth brushed.
How do you brush your dog’s teeth?
For the first few times, it’s best to start gradually, to get your dog used to brushing its teeth. Start with the back teeth on each side, lifting the cheekbones slightly, without trying to open the mouth. Brush the outside of the teeth first, the inside being cleaned naturally by tongue movements.
Complements to brushing your dog’s teeth
Bones to maintain your dog’s teeth
The value of bones for dogs’ oral hygiene is disputed, or even not recommended. Swallowing a bone or a piece of bone can have dramatic consequences, getting stuck in the oesophagus or intestine and causing a sometimes fatal obstruction. What’s more, a gnawed bone may contain splinters that can irritate the oral cavity and gums, or even the intestine itself.
Dental flaps and chew sticks for dogs
Dental strips and sticks act mechanically to prevent the development of plaque. They are a complement, or even an alternative, to brushing your dog’s teeth (although they are still less effective than daily brushing). To be effective, the dog needs to chew them long enough. So make sure you choose the right size for your dog. Some ranges of strips come in several categories depending on the size of the dog, such as Prozym RF2 Sticks for dogs L +25 kg. It is advisable to give them once a day, preferably after a meal.
Antiseptic solutions and anti-scaling powders for dogs
There are liquid antiseptic solutions to mix with drinking water, specially designed for the oral hygiene of our dogs. For example: Vet Aquadent 500 ml (New formula) There are also natural powders for dispersing on food and for daily use, which help to prevent or even eliminate bad breath and dental plaque, such as: Prozym Plaque Off 180 gr.
Specific food for your dog’s oral hygiene
Soft, moist foods (pâté, household food, etc.) encourage tartar build-up. Dry kibbles require chewing activity (grinding and cutting). Some dry kibbles are specially designed for oral hygiene, with a shape, consistency and ingredients to help prevent tartar build-up. It has been shown that 41% of dogs fed a soft diet suffered from oral problems, compared with only 22% of those fed a dry diet.How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth