How to clean your dog's teeth

Adult dogs have 10 more teeth than humans do. With 42 permanent teeth, these gnashers are key to a healthy mouth so it’s important to look after them. Getting your dog to let you take care of their teeth is another story. Here are some top tips on how to clean your dog’s pearly whites.

What you need before you start

  • A toothbrush that’s the right size for your dog’s teeth and alignment
  • Toothpaste suitable for dogs (other types might be harmful)
  • A reward ready for when you’re finished
  • A relaxed and calming environment so that your dog will feel at ease

How to brush your dog’s teeth

If you have a puppy, it’s a good idea to start brushing their teeth as soon as you can as this will let them get used to the idea from a young age, helping keep their teeth gleaming as they grow.

If you have an older dog, booking them in for a dental assessment with your vet before you start a new dental routine can help make sure any existing problems are treated to avoid causing any more discomfort to your pooch.

Short and slow

Keep your brushing sessions short to begin with as this will help ensure your dog stays interested and cooperative. If it goes on for too long, they’re less likely to accept it and might become bored or agitated.

Timing is important

To ensure that plaque doesn’t get the chance to build on your dog’s teeth, it is important that toothbrushing becomes part of their daily routine. Make sure that it’s performed at the same time each day, ideally when your dog is calm and quiet. If your pet is food orientated, you may want to try and do this before their dinner, so that they can be rewarded with a yummy bowl of their food!

As with all training, consistency is key so don’t give up even if you don’t seem to be getting anywhere fast.

A little bit at a time

It’s a good idea to increase the brushing gradually as this will help them get into a new routine. Start by getting your dog used to you touching their muzzle area and lips. Once your pooch is comfortable with you touching their mouth, slowly lift their lip and smear some of the flavoured dog toothpaste onto their upper teeth and gums on both sides with your finger.

The next step once your dog is happy with the finger toothpaste technique is to place a pea-sized amount of the dog toothpaste onto the special pet toothbrush. Lift the upper lip, but this time brush in small circles gently on the outside surface of the upper teeth. At first, they might not tolerate this step for very long, so you can brush a few different teeth each day. Then, once your dog is comfortable you should be able to brush all their teeth in one session.

A step by step guide to brushing your dog's teeth

Reward good behaviour

Praise and edible treats can make good rewards for good behaviour once you’ve finished with their teeth for the day. This will help positively reinforce the whole brushing process and they’re more likely to accept the invasion if they know they’re going to get something from it.

Consider the vets

If brushing your dog’s teeth is a no go, then speak to your vet. They can provide information about oral gels, dental diets, and can even provide a dental check if an appointment is needed.

 Alternatives to brushing

  • While not as effective as brushing your dog’s teeth, certain alternatives can help keep their mouths healthy: offering fruit and vegetables as snacks can help scrape food off their teeth but won’t be effective against established plaque
  • certain toys are designed to clean your dog’s teeth
  • edible dental treats claim to be effective at reducing plaque and tartar, but the jury is still out on whether some of the ingredients are harmful or toxic in larger quantities

While these alternatives appear much more convenient than cleaning your dog’s teeth by hand, brushing is still the most effective method and keeps you, the owner, in control of your routine to ensure it effectively removes all build-up.

If you want more tips and tricks on cleaning your dog’s teeth, talk to the veterinary team at Joii who will be happy to advise you on the best products for your pet and help you to create a brushing routine.

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