Should I brush my dogs teeth?

Just like humans, keeping your dog’s gnashers clean and healthy is really important. Dental care should be a fundamental part of your dog care routine, as neglecting it can lead to an excess of plaque and other health problems. 

From the moment your pup gets its permanent adult teeth, it’s essential that you introduce them to toothbrushing. Not only does it keep your dog happy and healthy, but it also helps you avoid hefty vet bills for dental infection treatments.

Want to learn more about how to introduce your dog to clean teeth? Let’s dive in. 

Is brushing my dog’s teeth important?

Yes - you should always brush your dog's teeth as part of their grooming routine. Dog chews aren’t enough to keep their teeth and gums healthy and infection free.

However, it’s worth noting that some breeds have different jaw alignments to others, and may therefore need their teeth brushed differently. We recommend asking your vet before you start cleaning your pup’s teeth - just in case they require special treatments. 

Tips for your dog’s dental hygiene

Though brushing your dog’s teeth is an important part of keeping their dental hygiene at a good level, there are also other things you can do to care for those pearly whites. 

Here are a few top tips for keeping your dog’s teeth healthy: 

  • Every pooch loves a treat - so why not make them ones that help their teeth? Dental chews are a great way to maintain good dental hygiene, as well as keep your dog’s teeth nice and clean.
  • Be cautious about feeding your dog bones. Though they may be tasty, they can also be bad for teeth - as they can damage and dental fractures. It’s worth noting that cooked bones are likely to fragment and can even cause internal damage. If you do decide to give your dog a bone, we recommend supervising them and contacting your vet beforehand if you’re in any way unsure.
  • When it comes to their food, there needs to be a variety. Some dog owners treat their pups to just tasty wet food over dry, but it’s important to factor in that dry food can help your dog exercise their muscles and help keep their teeth clean. 
  • One diet doesn’t fit all. Again, just like us, every dog is different and may require a tailored diet. Be sure to contact your vet to give you further advice on the best diet for your dog.

What happens if you don’t brush your dog’s teeth?

Without regularly brushing your dog’s teeth, you could find yourself paying a hefty bill for dental disease treatment. To stay on top of their dental hygiene, be sure to look out for the following signs of disease and infection: 

  • Damaged and bleeding gums
  • Unpleasant odour (infected mouths give off a horrid odour)
  • Sensitive teeth: look out for exposed roots
  • Refusing food: your dog may be leaving blood in their bowls, refusing food, or having difficulty eating
  • Teeth loss and discolouring
  • Extra deposit building up around the teeth

Remember - dog insurance can help towards vet costs for eligible treatments, helping you to protect your best friend against unexpected health complications.  

Is it too late to start brushing my dog’s teeth?

No, it’s never too late. It’s preferable that you start as early as possible, but if you’ve missed the boat then there’s no need to fret - simply start the habit when you can. If they’re an older dog, however, do be sure to be gentle and ease them into having their teeth brushed. Be cautious, and reward them with treats afterwards to sweeten the deal. 

How to brush your dog’s teeth at home

  1. Ease them in: start by gently petting them, before slowly lifting up their lip for around 30 seconds. Give them a treat at the end to encourage cooperation.
  2. Introduce toothpaste: Repeat the same routine as the above, but put a small amount of pet toothpaste over your dog’s teeth with your finger for around 30-45 seconds. Again, reward them with a treat.
  3. Insert toothbrush: If your dog is responding well to the first few steps, try running your fingertips over their teeth for at least 30 seconds, before gently introducing the toothbrush. Insert it slowly into their mouth and run over the teeth for a further 30 seconds.
  4. Build up momentum: If your dog is responding well, try increasing brushing time and aim to brush for one minute on each side of their mouth. 

For more detailed instructions on the brushing technique, see our article on how to clean your dog's teeth.

Brush your dogs teeth with a specially-designed dog toothbrush, not one for humans!

What should I use for brushing my pet’s teeth?

Don’t use human toothpaste, as it could make your dog sick. Shop around for a dog toothpaste that suits your pup’s needs, and invest in a dog toothbrush. 

Is it best to brush in the day or at night?

You should aim to brush your dog’s teeth twice a day, both in the morning and at night. However, the brush before bed is the most important. Throughout the day, the foods your dog munches on will leave debris and particles in their teeth that can feed bacteria. Making sure your dog’s teeth are free of leftovers before going to sleep is a crucial part of their dental healthcare routine. 

So there we have it, your expert-led guide on how to keep your dog’s pearly whites healthy and clean! For further information on how to take care of man’s best friend, visit our Dog Advice section. 

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