Should I brush my dog’s teeth?
The short answer is, well, it depends.
Ideally, your dog has established a great chewing routine from the age of 6 months when they have all of their adult teeth. However, every dog’s chewing behaviour is different, so let’s look at some ways we can improve on our dogs’ oral hygiene at any age.
Puppies go through two stages; teething and having adult teeth. During the teething stages, they are discovering life through their mouths. There is a lot of important chewing and mouthing happening – sometimes of things we’d rather them not chew like our clothes and shoes! However, all the chewing they do at this stage is really important and isn’t to be discouraged. We simply need to redirect it to places where they can do this important work. It’s good to always have on hand deterrent spray for things you would like to redirect the chewing from i.e. chair legs, and lots of fun textured toys they may chew like rubber pronged toys, knotted ropes, teething rings and Kong toys. Crates are a great positive space for play time when you are busy, where they can happily play and chew their toys and not get into any trouble! Remember too with teething, there will be weeks where your puppy has a sore mouth from loosing a tooth and may go off their food temporarily, simply soften the food as this will pass, and resume hard kibble when ready (usually about a week after the tooth falls out).
Once they have their adult teeth through at 6 months, it is important to incorporate good oral care practices as like us, these are the chompers they have for life. Be sure to give them objects to chew regularly that will encourage your dog to open their mouth and turn their head side-to-side chew, rather than just up and down so they are cleaning the back and sides of their teeth is optimal–think large Kong toy with treats in it, or a hoof or antler.
Teaching your puppy good chewing habits early will set them up for great chewing habits throughout their lives.
Small Adult Dogs
Often we think if your dog is small we need to feed them small kibble, but that simply isn’t true. What happens when a dog eats small kibble is they chew with their tiny front teeth only and toss it back, leaving the side and back teeth to become dirty over time. Ideally, we want to teach your dog to use its entire mouth when they chew. Try using larger sized kibble for larger dogs, which will encourage your pooch to open their mouth and chew. What if your dog is fussy and won’t eat a larger kibble? Then you can look at using larger dental treats and you can put dental mouth wash in your dog’s water bowl to help flush out any food left on your dog’s teeth after eating.
Also consider choosing the next size up in your Kong toy for treats and brushing your dog’s teeth. Have a look at our how to brush here. Start with a rubber finger brush and tooth paste every second day.
Medium and Large Adult dogs
With medium and large breed dogs, again you want to give them a nice large kibble as their main nutrition if possible, such as a dental food or large breed kibble. If you don’t feed kibble to your dog, you want to ensure you are using lots of large objects to chew and clean those lovely big teeth, such as an extra large Kong with treats in it, a large antler or some brisket ribs. You can add some mouthwash to your dog’s water dog bowl to flush out any food sticking to the teeth after eating.So, add one or more of these to your dog’s oral care tool kit and you will be on your way!
– Dog mouth wash
– Dental Chews
– Dental Food–as Daily nutrition
– Some Bones, Unusual shaped treats such as hoofs and antlers
– Rubber finger brush and toothpaste
You can always get a free dental check at your local veterinary clinic to make sure your dog’s teeth are looking their best. If there is already plaque, only a professional scale and polish will remove it, however if once that is done you can start on these practices daily to ensure your dog’s mouth is healthy.