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How to care for dogs’ teeth

How to care for dogs’ teeth

Did you know that if you don’t brush your dog’s teeth, it could eventually lead to heart problems? The good news is that it’s never too late to start looking after your dog’s teeth and gums. Here’s how to do it.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
4
minute read
posted 7 OCTOBER 2019

How do you clean a dog’s teeth?

It may not have even occurred to you to clean your dog’s teeth. But, in fact, it’s something you should be doing every day. And it isn’t too tricky if you make it part of your daily routine. Here’s how to brush your dog’s teeth:

  • Lift your dog’s lip to expose their teeth and gums.
  • Brush with gentle, circular motions – just as you’d brush your own teeth.
  • Concentrate on the outside tooth surfaces – most dogs won’t let you clean the insides of their teeth anyway.
  • Don’t forget the back molars and canines.
  • You don’t need to brush for long – around 30 seconds each side is fine.
  • Give your dog lots of fuss and affection when you’ve finished, so they associate the act with something pleasant.

Pointers for cleaning your dog’s teeth

Before you embark on your dog’s dental-care regime, there are a few things to bear in mind:  

Never use human toothpaste – it’s dangerous to pets. Dog-friendly toothpastes are available online or at pet shops – or from your vet. These are often meat flavoured to make them more palatable to your dog.

Buy a dog toothbrush – they’re specifically designed to work with your dog’s mouth. Again, you can pick these up at a pet shop or online. If you can’t get hold of one, you can use a child’s toothbrush or a finger brush.

Start as early as possible – the sooner you can get your puppy used to having its teeth brushed, the better. Start slowly, letting the dog lick the toothpaste to get used to the taste, then build up the length of time spent brushing.  

If you’re still unsure about cleaning your dog’s teeth, ask your vet for some tips.

What happens if I don’t clean my dog’s teeth?

Not taking care of your dog’s teeth can result in problems like gum disease, gingivitis and tartar build-up. Left unchecked, these problems can lead to serious illnesses, such as heart disease and even organ failure.  

It’s a good idea to have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned by your vet, once a year. Ignoring your dog’s dental hygiene is a false economy. If you let it slide, you could be faced with an expensive bill for cleaning and teeth extractions.

Dental disease in dogs: what to look for

If you’re worried your dog has dental problems, here are a few telltale signs to look out for: 

  • damaged or bleeding gums
  • bad breath
  • discoloured teeth
  • a sudden preference for soft food
  • refusing food (this could be a sign of pain)

How often should you brush a dog’s teeth?

Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth once a day. If you can’t manage that, aim for every two days – or once a week as a bare minimum. 

What are the best ways to keep a dog’s teeth clean?

Aside from brushing, there are a few other things that will help keep your dog’s mouth healthy: 

  • dried food chew toys
  • water additives 

Does dog insurance cover dentistry?

Some dog insurance policies offer dental cover, but not all. Check your policy document or speak to your insurance provider if you’re unsure whether you’re covered. 

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to add dentistry cover once your dog’s been diagnosed with tooth or gum disease. At that point, it becomes a pre-existing condition. 

It’s best to take action now. Dental disease is one of the most common conditions vets come across. By getting to grips with your dog’s dental hygiene and double-checking your pet insurance now, you can make sure your dog has years of happy chewing ahead of them.

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