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Looking After Your Dog's Teeth

Keeping our dogs' teeth healthy is a vital part of pet ownership. Periodontal disease (the collective term for several plaque-associated conditions affecting the teeth) is the most common oral condition seen in small animals and the most common disease seen by vets.

Dental disease often causes discomfort and significant pain, and if left untreated may cause issues with organs. Research has shown that periodontal disease is most prevalent in middle-aged dogs and especially small breeds. This could be due to small breed dogs' longer life expectancy, or the fact that their teeth are considerably smaller so harder to brush and maintain.

However, all dogs are likely to develop periodontal diseases at some point in their lives if steps are not taken to help maintain healthy teeth and gums.

While brushing our pets' teeth is arguably the best way to help improve their dental health, there is plenty of advice out there on alternative methods as well as other things to consider.

Here are some of our favourite pieces of advice:

  • Always use canine toothpaste to clean your dog’s teeth, human toothpaste contains xylitol which can be fatal if ingested by dogs. Canine toothpaste is also often flavoured, which can help make the process more enjoyable for your dog!

  • Natural chews and raw bones will help clean teeth and reduce the bacteria that leads to plaque and periodontal disease. We find these to be more effective than dental sticks, and healthier too.

  • Studies suggest that the reduction in bacteria due to chewing could be a result of the antibacterial nature of dogs’ saliva. Giving chews and bones to our dogs routinely can be beneficial, particularly when used alongside regular brushing.

  • Natural chews and raw bones have the advantage of not containing meat and animal derivatives, which are present in many dental sticks. This can be particularly important if your dog has allergies to certain proteins or grains.

  • If you cannot clean your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush, there are products available that can help. Plaque Off, for example, is a popular choice and is a powder that is added to your pet’s food. Other alternatives include dental treats such as Clydach Farm’s Daily Dentals.

  • It will always be easier if you start cleaning your dog’s teeth when they are a puppy. Whatever age your dog is, you should ensure you are gentle when brushing your dog’s teeth to avoid any negative association. Lots of treats and praise will go a long way as well!

Finally, it should be noted that while all dogs can suffer from “doggie breath” occasionally, if your dog’s breath has a consistently foul odour you should consider consulting your vet. This could be an indication that something is not right with your dog’s dental health, or even with another organ such as the liver or kidneys.

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