How to Clean a Dog's Mouth - A Step by Step Guide
by Tudor Nikolas on Jul 14, 2023.
Taking care of your dog involves more than just feeding them well and giving them affection and plenty of exercises. One often overlooked aspect of dog care is their dental hygiene.
Dog teeth cleaning is as vital for dogs as it is for humans and neglecting this part can lead them to suffer from a variety of dental problems that can cause discomfort, pain, and even their demise through serious infections.
Let's take a look to see what we can do to help our little furry friends!
The Necessity of Regular Dog Teeth Cleaning
Vets everywhere recommend brushing your dog's teeth at least two to three times per week or at least monthly if they're not a fan of the weekly oral cleanse. This regular brushing helps remove plaque, a sticky film that can harden into tartar if left untreated.
Tartar buildup can lead to gum disease, which can cause tooth loss and other health problems.
Typically, there are a few different ways to clean a dog's mouth and ensure the nasty plaque comes off their teeth.
The best way to do it is...
The dog toothbrush
Toothbrushing with special dog toothpaste that is safe to swallow.
TIP: NEVER use human toothpaste as it can be toxic to swallow. The dog toothpaste is specifically designed as safe to ingest and comes in flavours that dogs enjoy.
If your dog hates having their teeth brushed, then you have 3 options:
Dental cleaning nutritional formulas:
1) Dog teeth cleaning powder that you can add to their food on a daily basis
2) Chewables that contain similar ingredients to the dental powder and can be given once or twice a day, depending on the packaging instructions
3) Liquid teeth cleaning formula that you just add to their water. Think of the concept of a mouthwash, but obviously it has to be safe enough to swallow because the dog can't spit it out. This usually contains a blend of seaweed and other chemicals. This in my opinion is good for bad breath, but does not work so well to remove the plaque and tartar from the teeth.
Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth at Home
The tools you need to have handy are:
- Dog toothbrush (it can either be a proper toothbrush, or a finger toothbrush... the latter choice looks like a sewing thimble)
- Dog toothpaste
- Choose a quiet, location where your dog feels comfortable and safe, and make sure you have your tools at hand.
- Apply some dog toothpaste to the toothbrush
- Then carefully lift your dog's upper lip and begin brushing in a circular motion. Make sure to brush all the teeth, not just the ones in the front. Your dog may find this uncomfortable, so be careful not to irritate him or actually cause pain or it may become aggressive towards you.
- Don't forget to brush the back teeth and along the gumline. Cleaning the gums is the most important for dogs, as they are much more likely to get gum disease than dental cavities.
- Reward your dog with praise and a dental chew to make the experience positive at the end of it all.
- Don't forget to regularly check your dog's mouth for signs of gum disease, such as redness, swelling, and bad breath. You can either do this yourself or it can happen at your vet health visits!
Maintaining Your Dog's Dental Health Between Cleanings
In addition to regular brushings, oral health maintenance is vital and this can be achieved through a balanced diet and limiting sugary treats.
Dental chews and specially designed toys that promote chewing can also help keep your dog's teeth clean.
When to Seek Professional Dog Teeth Cleaning
Even the most diligent at-home care can miss deep rooted oral problems. Unless you're brushing your dog's teeth daily, small bits of tartar will still get the chance to deposit on the surface of your teeth, often in areas that we can't even see, below the gum line. This accumulates over time and a professional dental cleaning is required to completely remove this plaque.
Vets are ones who have the tools and expertise to perform a deep cleaning that is simply not possible at home. They can safely remove tartar build-up from below the gum line and hard-to-reach areas, which can help prevent periodontal disease.
Signs that include the need for a deeper cleaning include persistent bad breath, red or swollen gums, difficulty eating, loose or missing teeth, excessive drooling, or discomfort when your dog is eating or chewing toys.
Some breeds, such as small dogs like Bulldogs or Pugs are unfortunately more prone to dental disease and might benefit from more frequent professional cleanings.