What you say?
You're going to clean my teeth!
Dental Health Care For Dogs
Keeping your dog's teeth healthy is an essential duty, along with clipping their nails, protecting them from bad plants, and playing games with them. Tartar buildup can lead to several health issues, even problems with the heart. Some pet owners choose to take their dog to a vet to have his/her teeth cleaned professionally. It is ideal to start brushing them while they are puppies, so they can gradually get used to it. When you decide to start brushing, make sure you always use dog toothpaste, not human toothpaste. They cannot spit, and human toothpaste is not intended to be swallowed. If you use human toothpaste, this can cause an upset stomach and the contents of their lunch may end up on your floor.
80% of dogs over 3 years old have some form of periodontal (dental) disease. Dental disease causes bad breath (halitosis) and pain, it is also a source of infection and can make your pet seriously ill.
Dental disease is preventable in the vast majority of cases and in most cases, easy to achieve at home. There are many different methods to keep your pet's "pearly white" teeth and these should be started while they are puppies and kittens.
For adult dogs with existing dental disease, a dental treatment with a scale and polish under general anaesthetic is often necessary to get their mouth back into top condition. This will allow us to start prevention with a clean mouth which needs to be continued at home to hopefully prevent, or slow down dental disease developing again in the future.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene
1. Appropriate Food
There is scientific research supporting the use of food as an easy means of helping keep your pets teeth clean. The Royal Canin Dental biscuit's (or kibble) size, shape and texture produce a mechanical brushing effect on teeth, helping to remove plaque and tartar when chewed. It also helps to reduce tartar through the inclusion of a specific nutrient that effectively reduces plaque deposits.
2. Plaque Off / Dentafresh
These products have been shown to work in two different ways: by decreasing overall bacterial loads in your pets mouth, thus aiding with smelly breath, and also softening plaque on the tooth surface. If the plaque is softer, it can be brushed away more easily by appropriate diet, brushing, or chews.
3. Bones and Chews
Products such as Dentabones encourage your pets to chew, which helps rub plaque off, and also spread protective saliva around teeth.
Feeding fresh raw bones and other animal products can greatly aid the hygiene of the mouth. Not every dog or cat can have bones and there are some individuals that have medical conditions or gut sensitivities that prohibit their use within the diet. Un-cut bones are best to reduce the risk of dental fractures, and the size must be larger than their head to avoid swallowing large portions.
4. Brushing your pet's teeth
Plaque will start to accumulate 12 hours after a scale and polish or brushing, therefore it is no surprise that cats and dogs will benefit from having their teeth brushed.
Brushing is the 'gold standard' method of keeping your pets teeth clean. We brush our teeth multiple times a day - your pets teeth need to be brushed daily too.
There are many dental tooth brush varieties on the market, along with different designs and dental pastes. Many pet dental kits come with a microfibre finger cloth with which to start, toothpaste and a double headed toothbrush, specifically designed for your pets mouth. Finger brushes can also be used.
It is important to note that cats and dogs cannot use fluoride (human) toothpastes and a specific pet dental paste needs to be selected.
Our pets need to be trained to tolerate having their teeth brushed from a young age. Starting as a puppy or kitten is ideal, and gradually developing a system is important.
How Do You Brush A Dog's Teeth?
Some steps to guide you are below.
Ways to Prepare Your Dog: Before you begin brushing your dog's teeth, it is a good idea to get him used to you touching his lips. For a few weeks before you begin brushing his teeth, raise his lower and upper lips and massage the area for thirty seconds at a time. Watch his reactions. Once he seems relaxed while you are doing this, then he is ready to have his teeth brushed. Another good idea is to put a little toothpaste (dog toothpaste) in his mouth to get him used to the flavor. If your dog is resistant to the flavor, but not the brushing, it's better to brush without anything than not brush at all.
Getting Prepared: Before you bring your dog into have his teeth brushed, you want to set up the area and have everything within hand's reach. For instance, already put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, so the dog does not have to wait for you to do this. The idea is that you want to minimize the dog's discomfort and finish as quickly as possible. It is also important to make sure your dog is prepared. If the pup/ dog wants to play, they will not be very tolerant of getting their teeth brushed. You will want to make sure that the dog is relaxed and calm. This will eliminate the battles that could ensue if you choose a time when your dog is hyper and playful.
Beginning Brushing Their Teeth
Once you are prepared, you will want to have your dog in a position where you can be face to face. This may mean you need to sit on the floor or place him in your lap. If possible, it is often a good idea to have a second person there to comfort him and talk to your dog to help him feel at ease, as well as to gently hold him still. The second person talking to your dog will help distract them, especially during times when you may need to add toothpaste.
- Begin slowly, initial sessions should be brief, a minute or two and well rewarded.
- Get your dog used to the toothbrush by dipping it in tuna juice, chicken or beef stock or just use water.
- Next try offering the toothbrush with the paste, without brushing. Allow your dog to taste the paste.
- When your dog is comfortable with the brush try brushing one or two strokes on a few teeth. Slowly increase the amount of brushing as your dog becomes more comfortable.
- Start at the front of the mouth. Pets are often more accepting of this.
Using a toothbrush
It's ideal to use a toothbrush, but not all dogs will be willing to use one. The toothbrush bristles should be placed at the gum margin where the teeth and gums meet at a 45 degree angle. The movement should be in an oval pattern. Be sure to gently force the bristle ends into the area around the base of the tooth as well as into the space between the teeth. In cases where your dog is resistant to a toothbrush you can use a wet washcloth or gauze on your finger. Another alternative to a brush is a rubber surface cap that goes on your finger, which acts like a toothbrush. You can find these at most pet stores. To begin brushing their teeth, lift up their upper lip and brush in a circular pattern making sure to get the gum line. Continue around the mouth doing top teeth first. Then begin doing bottom. The bottom will be trickier since your dog will most likely keep his teeth shut and the bottom teeth will be a little hidden. Really focus on the back teeth; this is where plaque gets built up the most and can do the most damage.
Place pet dental toothpaste Using your fingers gently pull the gums away.
Place the toothbrush on the teeth on a 45 degree angle.
Pay attention to the canines. Also the gaps between all teeth, and make sure you brush all the way to the back of the mouth. Work inside the mouth, cleaning the back of the teeth.
Using a Finger Brush
Place the finger brush on your index finger Brush to the back of the mouth.
and apply pet dental toothpaste. Start at the
front of the mouth, using an oval movement
brush over the front teeth and gum.
Also right along the side of the mouth. Moving back and forth.
Watch these clips for more information:
How Often Should You Clean a Dog's Teeth?
There is a wide debate on how often you should clean your dog's teeth. You will hear some say every day; others will say once a week. I personally would aim for whenever you give your dog a bath. We also suggest giving a lot of teeth-healthy toys like doggy designed rope, milk-bones; plus we always feed our dogs with a mixture of dry dog food and raw meat, which helps strengthen their teeth. Chicken necks cut into small cubes and raw chicken wing tips can provide your dog calcium as well as acting as a natural tooth brush.
Then once a year, when you talk to your vet, ask them about your dog's teeth and whether a professional cleaning is required. Some vets encourage you to have them cleaned professionally once a year regardless of teeth health. Others are less conservative and will truly assess your dog's teeth per visit. If you are brushing regularly, they may let you know they do not feel a vet dental visit is important. Either way, the vet should at least assess the dental health of your dog.
NB: Begin taking care of your dog's teeth while it is a puppy, this way it will be used to it early on.
Side Effects for Dogs With Bad Teeth
Bad dental care causes problems for up to 80 percent of dog's over the age of three. Dental problems does not only affect the teeth, but also the liver, heart, intestinal tract, kidneys, and even joints! The reason for this is because the bacteria that is gathered in the mouth due to bad teeth, will eventually be swallowed, and begin to spread throughout the rest of the body. These bacteria can actually cause problems throughout your pet's body.
Signs Your Dog's Teeth May Need to Be Seen By The Vet
Dog's breath should never be offensive. Their breath may smell like the food they last ate, which is not the most favorable smell, but your dog's breath should never be intolerable.
Gums should be pink and close to the teeth. If their gums are red, swollen, or receding from the gum-line, then you should have a vet look at your dog's teeth.
When you brush his teeth, his gums should not bleed. Bleeding gums is a sign of gingivitis.
- Whining while chewing on toys is a big indicator something is wrong. You may find your puppy does this when their baby teeth are falling out, but they should not do that once all their adult teeth are in. You may also see a sudden resistance in chewing usually beloved chew toys.
Do dogs get cavities?
Dental caries or “cavities” as they’re more commonly known, are rare in dogs. This is due to many factors including a relatively low-sugar diet, differences in mouth bacteria, and the shape of the teeth. When cavities do occur, they can be treated the same way as human cavities: drill out the damaged part of the tooth and fill it with a special dental compound. In severe cases involving tooth root exposure, endodontic procedures will be performed such as root canal and capping. Extraction of the affected tooth is required in certain cases. Another good reason to provide dental care for your dog.
How can I tell if my dog has gum disease?
Start by lifting your dog’s lips. If you see dirty or discolored teeth, typically an ugly brownish-greenish color, see your veterinarian. This is likely tartar or plaque and is an early sign of imminent gum or periodontal disease. Next examine the gums for any swelling or redness. If you brush your fingertip along the gum line and observe the tissues become angry and inflamed or even bleed, this indicates more serious gum infection and disease. Finally, take a whiff. If your dog’s breath is fetid and foul, this is usually associated with bacterial infection. “Doggie breath” shouldn’t be a reason to avoid your dog. Remember that sweet smelling “puppy breath?” A dog with a healthy mouth should have pleasant or at least neutral odor. If your dog exhibits any of these signs, see your veterinarian for help.
PS: Sometimes you can not get around to brushing your dog's teeth as often as you should; therefore, make sure you have a lot of hard toys they can chew on to help strengthen their teeth. Milk bones are great for cleaning their teeth in between, but do not solely rely on them, as plaque will still build up.
Dog Teeth Cleaning: A Vet’s Process
In general, a cleaning with no extractions takes roughly 45 minutes to one hour. After the vet performs a physical examination and has determined that it’s safe for your dog to receive anesthesia, your dog will be sedated, intubated to maintain a clear airway, and administered oxygen and anesthetic gas. Most veterinarians will also place an intravenous catheter and administer fluids throughout anesthesia to support your dog’s blood pressure and organ health.
The teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler, a tool that vibrates at a high speed, to remove large pieces of plaque and tartar. A hand scaler is used to clean under the gumline of every tooth and on all sides of the tooth. Dental probes are used to measure the depth of the pockets found between tooth and gum – abnormally deep pockets indicate periodontal disease. Many times, oral radiographs are taken to evaluate the bone around the teeth.
Once all plaque and tartar are removed, the mouth is rinsed and all tooth surfaces are polished. If the teeth are not polished, small etchings left on the teeth from cleaning can attract more plaque and tartar to adhere in the small grooves. After polishing, the mouth is rinsed again and a fluoride treatment can be applied.
How Much Does Dog Teeth Cleaning Cost?
Dog teeth cleaning costs vary across the board and are influenced by a slew of different factors. A cleaning might only cost a few hundred dollars, but you might end up paying a few thousand dollars if your pet is having oral surgery like an extraction involving a large tooth. One of the biggest factors behind the high costs is anesthesia and X-rays.
NB: Dental X-rays are really important to assessing periodontal disease and the health of teeth below the gum line, unfortunately, they require anesthesia and anesthesia tends to be pricy.
How Often Should You Get Your Dog’s Teeth Professionally Cleaned?
Most vets recommend getting your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned anywhere from once every six months to once a year, depending on the dog. If you’re taking good care of your dog’s teeth at home, you might be able to get away with not going quite as often. Bad breath is usually the first indicator that you should bring your pet into a vet. Other signs you should watch out for include bleeding gums, seeing blood on chews or difficulty eating.
Post Dog Teeth Cleaning Procedures
Most dogs can generally start eating a regular diet 12 to 48 hours after a cleaning. The anesthesia needs to work itself out of the dog’s body. If extractions have occurred or major surgery taken place, it might take pets three to five days to fully recover. It is recommended that you soften your pet’s food so he or she can eat it comfortably during this time frame.
Canine Dental Hygiene
Anesthesia Free Teeth Cleaning For Dogs
This article is taken directly from their webpage.
How do we do anesthesia free dental cleaning for dogs?
We use dog whisperer techniques to get your dog calm and connected to us, trusting us to work on their mouths. Then we use a careful swaddling technique where we wrap your dog up like a baby (yes even the big dogs!) so that they feel safe and secure, just like they do when they wear a thundershirt for anxiety. We lay them between our legs on a big comfy mattress on the floor and start to gently, calmly and carefully work on their mouth. We do a full dental scale of every surface of each tooth, including under the gum line and at the end we polish the teeth. All of this is done with a human dental scaling tool by hand, without the use of anesthetics, sedatives and without any loud, noisy mechanical or electric scalers or polishers. We believe this is a much safer holistic approach to dental cleaning for dogs and an excellent complementary therapy to what’s currently available.
How do you clean the teeth without anesthetic?
We use dog whisperer techniques to connect with your dog, our calm and gentle approach and careful swaddling (like a thundershirt for anxiety) makes your dog feel safe and secure. We use a human dental scaling tool to clean every millimetre of the tooth surface and under the gumline. Everything is done carefully and thoroughly by hand, so there is no noise unlike when mechanical or electronic tools are used. Everything we do is designed to put your dog at ease and make it as low stress as possible for them.
Is my dog going to get stressed out or feel any pain?
Most dogs do well with the process, we take our time with the dogs and use dog whisperer techniques to get them calm and receptive to us working on their mouth and our swaddling technique helps even the most anxious dogs relax and feel comfortable. Many dogs are so relaxed they fall asleep while we’re working on their mouths! Your dog is treated gently and compassionately, just as we would do for our own dogs. We never ever use force on the dogs, there is no pain and they do not suffer. If there are any issues that mean we cannot continue the dental cleaning*, we stop and contact you. Our first priority is the dog’s health and wellbeing. Be assured your dog is safe and in good hands.
Do you use any chemicals or electric/mechanical tools?
The only substance we use is coconut oil when we polish the dogs teeth after cleaning each tooth and under the gum lines with our human dental scaling tool. We do everything by hand and do not use any loud, noisy mechanical or electric scalers or polishers. There may be an aromatherapy diffuser with calming essential oils to aid the atmosphere of calm and wellbeing in the room where our hygienist is working, and an iPad to take before and after photos of your dogs mouth – that’s as high tech as it gets. Everything we do is designed to minimise stress and encourage relaxation and wellbeing in our client, your dog!
Is it the same results as going to the vet?
Yes, we perform a full dental scale of every tooth, clean under the gum line and polish the teeth with the same results as the vets, but without the use of anesthetics, sedatives and without using any loud, noisy mechanical or electric scalers or polishers. We use a human dental scaling tool and do everything carefully and thoroughly by hand. We are dental hygienists and not veterinarians, if we find an issue that’s outside our area of anesthesia free dental cleaning, we will contact you immediately and recommend you take your dog back to your veterinarian for appropriate medical treatment.
How long does the anesthesia free dental cleaning take?
Our anesthesia free dental cleaning service for dogs takes approximately 90 minutes. We take our time to get to know your dog and get it comfortable with us, do our anesthesia free dental clean, take before and after photos (which we send you in a follow-up email with our recommendations). This gives us time to gently but thoroughly clean every surface of every tooth in your dog’s mouth (and under the gum line) and then give each tooth a thorough polish at the end. We are also spend the time speaking with you if you have any questions, and we can give you recommendations for maintaining your dogs dental and overall health.
How long does an anesthesia free dental clean last?
It all depends on the condition of your dog’s teeth, it’s diet and often it’s genetics. Some dogs just have teeth that need more attention than others, for example collies with their long pointed muzzles, because of this feature of the breed they cannot chew hard on raw meaty bones and often need more dental care. We will give you the best advice we can for your dog’s condition, breed and needs at the time of your first dental clean. We may recommend your dog has a yearly dental with dietary changes or additions to maintain the teeth in between cleans, or we may recommend your dog be on our 3 monthly maintenance program if required.
Do you do home visits for the anesthesia free dental cleaning?
Yes, we currently provide home visits across the greater Melbourne area. This is great for dogs that are nervous about travelling, or being in places where there could be other dogs. This service is also great for owners that don’t drive! Please call us on 0433 348 639 to enquire when one of our Canine Dental Hygiene teams will next be in your area for home visits. Please note: home visits attract an extra travel fee which covers the time/petrol for the hygienist and assistant to come to your home.
Dog Dental Questions and Answers
How many teeth do dogs have? The average adult dog has about a third more teeth than his human counterpart. Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth compared to a measly 32 average human teeth (not counting any wisdom teeth. Those are "bonus.") Puppies possess 28 baby teeth while human babies will have 20 deciduous or “baby” teeth.
When do dogs begin to lose their baby teeth? Puppies begin losing baby teeth around 12 to 16 weeks of age. By four months of age, almost all of a pup’s deciduous teeth have been shed and many of the permanent teeth have already erupted and are in place.
Can you tell how old a dog is by looking at his teeth? The answer is, it depends. When dogs are young, you can estimate their age by observing which teeth have erupted. For example, a puppy’s deciduous incisors typically erupt between 4 to 6 weeks of age and the permanent incisors are in place by 12 to 16 weeks. The canines or “fang teeth” emerge at 3 to 5 weeks and the permanent canines by 12 to 16 weeks. By the time the permanent molars are present, the dog is 4 to 6 months old. In general, once a dog reaches six months of age, all or least most of his permanent teeth are visible.