Doggie breath? Eeew!! It should be no surprise that bad breath develops with our pet given the apparent lack of attention to dental hygiene in many dogs. Imagine how badly your own breath might smell or the condition of cavities might become if you didn’t take care of your own daily dental health.
Training for Dental Care Routines
“But my dog doesn’t like getting his teeth brushed!” is the common lament. Dental brushing or cleaning of some sort is an activity that is best trained and nurtured from the early days of your dog’s life.
Regular dental cleaning is definitely something that needs to be approached as a daily ritual, even if you are only doing a simple cleaning process that takes a short time, getting the habit down will make it an expected part of your regular routine with Rover.
Veterinarian or Specialist Cleaning
A full cleaning at the veterinarian or specialist office is likely going to involve some sort of sedation process. Unfortunately, especially for small breeds, sedation is a risky process that is discouraged if it can be avoided. Most dogs might only undergo a full sedation dental cleaning a few times in their whole life.
So, what is a responsible dog owner to do? As your pet’s best friend and most trusted companion, you are most likely the person your dog will trust for a regular cleaning. And, by regular, we recommend doing this daily. But, even 1 or 2 x per week is better than nothing.
Dental Cleaning Methods for Dogs
- Manual Cleaning with a Toothbrush Designed for Dogs
- Moist Paper / Towelette Cleaning Product
- Dental Floss or Rubberized Chew Toys
- Water Additives for Cleaning
- Dental Cleaning Treats and Snacks
- Moist Gauze
- Non-Sedation Cleaning at Veterinarian or Specialist
- Full Sedation Cleaning at Veterinarian or Specialist
1. Manual Cleaning with a Toothbrush Designed for Dogs
There are several specialized toothbrushes on the market for dogs. You would not want to attempt using a human style toothbrush as your dog’s mouth is obviously much smaller – especially with small / toy breeds.
In a future article we may review such products, but for now we’ll just refer to a common multi headed bristle style brush (2 or 3 sided bristles) that permit cleaning inside and outside of teeth at the same time. Add some toothpaste made specifically for dogs for maximum benefit. Many doggie toothpaste products are lightly flavored so your dog has something to look forward to. Do not use toothpaste made for people as your dog will swallow liquids (toothpaste) as you brush, canine specific toothpaste is made to take this into account.
2. Moist Paper / Towelette Cleaners
This product is easily found in most pet stores. It’s simple wet cleaning tissue made for your dog’s teeth. This method of cleaning is obviously best when you have a high level of trust with your dog and you’ve trained this cleaning routine from when he/she was a young pup. You wrap the cleaning paper around a finger and manually clean the teeth inside and out. These pre-moistened towels are also favorably flavored for most dogs so there is a little something interesting in it for them.
3. Dental Floss or Rubberized Chew Toys
Various rubberized or stringy chew toys are a favorite for some dogs that enjoy play. A simple game of fetch with a dental chew toy will promote cleaner teeth. Our favorite is a rope style chew toy that consists of wound-up dental floss-like material. If your dog loves to play tug-of-war with his/her toys, this might be a fantastic option, especially for cleaning between the front teeth. Any method that includes a fun play element while benefiting from a cleaning perspective is a win on several fronts.
4. Water Additives for Cleaning
A water additive cleaning product is something that you add into your dog’s water dish. This is a great approach for dogs who absolutely refuse or fight the other manual cleaning methods mentioned here. You may have adopted an older pet who has not had the dental care and cleaning routine earlier in life, and it’s usually difficult to introduce such teeth cleaning routines in a dog’s later years.
Available at most pet stores, various water additive products come in a droplet, cap measure, pump or other dispensing method. Simply add to your pet’s water supply as directed on the bottle. These products helps kill off the plaque causing bacteria in your dog’s mouth.
5. Dental Cleaning Treats and Snacks
Check out your local pet store in the chew treats section and they are likely to have some dental cleaning chews. What we’re referring to here are not chew toys, but fully edible treats that have cleaning properties.
The downside is that they are not calorie free, this will be an addition to your dog’s normal diet. If your dog does enjoy these treats, perhaps try replacing other reward treats with the dental chew variety.
6. Moist Gauze – Money Saving Option
Some of the options in this list are not cheap. One option that might save a little money is using a simple gauze pad, similar to what you might already have on-hand in a medical kit. It’s probably folded into a neat square… unfold it, wrap around a finger and lightly moisten it. A little at a time, massage each tooth and try to work some of the debris and tartar away. You might also add a little toothpaste for dogs to the gauze pad for added benefit.
7. Non-Sedation Cleaning at Veterinarian or Specialist
Most veterinarians and some progressive dog grooming salons will have a specialist they work with for non-sedation cleaning. If your dog is friendly, they may be co-operative and let a stranger do some cleaning without sedation.
Something else you could try yourself is simply using a fingernail to scrape at the yellow build up on your dog’s teeth if they allow it. This simple home-method was also recommended by our own veterinarian as a helpful in-between veterinarian visit technique.
8. Full Sedation Cleaning at Veterinarian or Specialist
Full sedation cleaning might be the only option for some dogs who won’t permit anyone to perform a cleaning with the methods listed above. It’s typically only used a small number of times in a dog’s life as sedation is a very risky process that can negatively affect your pet’s health. In the event another procedure is being performed that requires sedation, have a discussion with your vet about whether or not teeth cleaning is a safe second procedure to add.
Of all the cleaning methods this will provide that best single cleaning of the worst tartar build up.
Yes! In addition to several types of dental chew toys and treats for cleaning, there are foods that promote mechanical cleaning of a dog’s teeth as he/she eats. Some veggies that are safe for your dog that help to keep teeth a little cleaner. Carrots or celery are both safe for dogs in small amounts and can help at least a little in this regard. Read more here about some veggies that are OK to offer your pet.
If your dog is still in his/her younger years, hard kibble (not moistened) is also useful to deter tartar build up as compared to some wet canned foods. Wet canned foods, while your dog will likely LOVE the taste and texture, might be best saved for their later years when dental condition is already a challenge and hard kibble is more difficult for them to eat.
Disclaimer: As this article refers to health and diet related topics that affect your dog’s well being it should be pointed out that WagWagWoofWoof.com, and the authors here are NOT veterinarians. The information in this article and others on this site is based upon research we have found both online and in print, summarized here for convenience, discussion and a starting point for further reading. Use information found here at your own discretion and risk.