Ultimate Dog Dental Care Guide

Caring for your dog’s oral health is as important as caring for your own. Without the right dental care, dogs can experience all kinds of issues that can cause bad breath, inflammation and pain. Knowing how to provide the best dog dental care will ensure that you can help your furry friend keep on smiling.

This guide will help you understand why you need to care for your dog’s teeth at home and the best ways to do so. Whether it be dental sticks, dental chews or dental treats - there are many products that can help improve your dog’s oral health and maintain good oral hygiene.


Why Is It Important To Look After Your Dog's Teeth?

Taking care of your dog’s teeth and oral health is essential as it will help to manage the buildup of plaque which can lead to bad breath, gum disease, pain and more. 

Having a regular dental care routine combined with a dental care dog food, dental sticks, dental chews or dental treats will help maintain good oral hygiene and combat these issues. Without good dental care, dogs are prone to experiencing dental disease. 

Dental Disease In Dogs

Over 80% of dogs will experience dental disease by the time they are three, making it the second most common health issue in dogs, after ear infections. With dental disease being so common it makes sense to take good care of their teeth!  When a dog has problems with his mouth and teeth, it impacts his overall quality of life causing  pain, stress and irritation.  This can affect his behaviour. 

While dogs can get similar dental conditions to those seen in people, the most common dental disease in dogs is periodontal disease. This is inflammation of the gums, tissues and bone that support the teeth. This inflammation can result in infection which can cause bad breath, pain, issues when chewing and eventually tooth loss. If dental disease is not treated it can also lead to other health complications.

Dental disease is referred to by Grades and these grades reflect the severity of the disease. A summary of the grades is below:

  • Grade 1: plaque and tartar or calculus (which is hardened plaque) on the teeth, mild inflammation of the gums.(usually reversible with a scale and polish by your veterinarian)

  • Grade 2: Moderate calculus on the teeth extending up under the gum.  There may be pockets formed under the gum and mild loss of bone around the tooth 

  • Grade 3: heavy calculus on the teeth extending up under the gums, severe inflammation of the gums with deep pocket formation, teeth becoming loose.

  • Grade 4:  Severe inflammation of the gums, very deep pockets in the gums, extensive loss of bone surrounding the teeth, multiple tooth loss inevitable

The lowest grade is 1, where dogs might not have experienced any loss of the bone supporting the teeth and is likely to be reversible with dental treatment by your veterinarian. Although this stage is less severe, it is still essential to improve your dog’s dental care routine to help prevent the disease from progressing.  By the time Stage 2 is reached, only some changes can be reversed with treatment by a veterinarian.  A regular dental care routine using a dog dental toothbrush, dog dental chews, and other products will improve your dog’s oral health and help slow down the progression of dental disease. 

Before you start your home dental care routine you will need to ask for the best way to do so for your breed of dog. All dogs have varying jaw alignments, which affects how their teeth meet. Not every dog’s dental routine will be the same and your Veterinarian can help you with what will work best for your dog.


How To Take Care Of Dog Teeth At Home

Knowing how to properly take care of your dog’s teeth at home will ensure that you have an efficient routine in order to improve your dog’s oral hygiene and general health. An efficient and effective routine will make sure to keep teeth clean and combat bad breath.

The following dental care options will help keep your dog’s teeth clean and slow the progression of dental disease once your Veterinarian has performed dental treatment. 

Brush Their Teeth

Daily brushing is the best way to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth and keep them clean. It may be a little bit difficult at first while he becomes used to it.  You can start slowly and work your way up to a regular routine.  

Here are some steps you can follow to brush your dog’s teeth. 

  1. The first step to brushing your dog’s teeth, especially for the first time, will be to give them a taste of the dog dental toothpaste. Doing so will help them get used to the taste and some may enjoy it, which will make the brushing process a lot easier. You can offer it to them as a treat or by running it along their gum line. Tip: Never use human toothpaste as it can upset their stomach.

  2. The next step might be the most challenging as it involves using a finger toothbrush or dog dental toothbrush and manually brushing your dog’s teeth. To get your dog ready for this step you should spend time touching his mouth and running your finger over his gums.  When he accepts this he is ready for the tools! Use the toothbrush in small circular movements from the top to the bottom of each tooth.  Start with a few teeth at a time and work your way up to the whole mouth.  

Remember to talk to and encourage your dog during brushing to make it as fun as possible. If you are doing it every day - it should be enjoyable. Brushing should take around 30 seconds to two minutes.  Remember to end with a favourite treat or some extra praise and pats. 

In addition to brushing, there are some other effective options to care for your dog’s dental health. 

Give Dental Chews and treats

Dental Chews and dental treats are a great way to help remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth. The natural chewing motion and the rubbing of the chew against the teeth will help remove plaque. Remember the longer your dog chews the more effective the action. So if your dog finishes the chew in one bite - it may not be the right option for him.

You can even find fun toothbrush shaped treats of varying sizes, which will help brush away the plaque while they are chomping on it. Remember to check the calorie content of your treats and chews - if your dog is having them every day, the calories can add up!

Is brushing teeth more effective than dental dog chews?  Tooth brushing is the gold standard however, if your dog will not allow you to brush his teeth, then a dog chew could be the best option. Regular chewing on a dental dog chew may achieve more cleanliness than only brushing for 5 seconds.  Dental sticks for dogs will also ensure that they keep up with their oral hygiene and keep their mouth free from plaque and bad bacteria when given every day.

You might find a combination of brushing teeth and dental chews or sticks works best for you. The key is for the teeth cleaning action to be done every day.

Play With Dental Toys

If your dog loves to play with toys, then giving him a dental toy is the perfect solution to improve his oral hygiene. There are many options from a KONG dental stick dog toy to chew bones, which they can play with while at the same time caring for their teeth. 

These toys provide enjoyment and entertainment for your dog with and come in tasty flavours, which encourage dogs to chew.  The chewing action stimulates saliva production which helps to wash plaque from the teeth. These are an easy addition to your dental care routine if your dog loves chew toys. Some dental toys can be filled with toothpaste for added brushing action. 

There are a few things to remember when using dental chews or chew toys:

  • Make sure the size of the chew is right for your dog - they need to be able to chew on it safely.

  • Always supervise your pet while they enjoy their chews or chew toys.

  • Chews are designed to be eaten and chew toys are not, regularly inspect, clean and replace your dog’s chew toys.

Feed Dental Dog Food

There is also the option of feeding a dental dog food, which can provide balanced nutrition while helping to reduce plaque and tartar. Giving your dog dental food every day, along with chews and treats, is a great way to provide the best dental care for your dog. 

Dental Care Dog Food provides dental care for dogs of all ages providing they chew their food.  Every dog eats every day, sometimes, several times a day, which means that there is lots of opportunity to achieve cleaner, healthier teeth and gums.

Some examples of good dental dog food include Royal Canin Dental Care dry dog food, which not only tastes great but is very effective at reducing plaque and tartar. The kibble has a unique texture to clean your dog’s teeth through the natural abrasive action as they chew. Likewise, another option is Advance Triple Action, which is suitable for small and toy dogs. Using a dental care food as your everyday food is an easy and effective way of setting up a regular dental care routine

Use Dental Dog Washes

Another option to care for your dog’s teeth and gums is a dental dog wash or water additive, which will provide them with fresher breath while fighting against plaque. A dental solution will aim to maintain healthy teeth and gums and should be used in addition to daily tooth brushing and dental food options.  

A combination of a dental wash for dogs, tooth brushing and dental chews will provide your dog optimal plaque control, which can help to reduce bad breath and combat disease.


When To See A Vet

Just like humans visiting the dentist, dog’s need to see a veterinary professional at least once a year to keep on top of their oral health. The vet is able to examine the teeth and gums to ensure that your dog is not suffering from any underlying dental issues, such as periodontal disease. With Grade 1 periodontal disease, tartar is just starting to form and you might not notice the signs of inflammation in the mouth.

Regular Vet visits will allow you to catch issues early on and get advice on the best treatment and dental home care routine to help your dog attain optimal oral health. 

Likewise, should your dog show signs of pain in or around his mouth, or any redding or bleeding of the gums it is important to take them to see a vet immediately. Often our dogs are very brave and might be in considerable pain before they show signs, so act as soon as you recognise symptoms or think something might be wrong. 

Often by the time we notice our dog has bad breath, dental disease has already started. Being cautious is the best way to keep on top of their dental health and optimise the health of their teeth and gums. Slight inflammation of the gums where it meets the tooth is often an early sign that something is wrong. Therefore, acting fast can help them slow the progression to more severe dental disease.

Tip: August is dental month in Australia and most Veterinarians will offer free dental checks during August - some offer them all year round - check with your local veterinarian.

Between visits, ensure to maintain a regular dental care routine that involves brushing, dental chews, toys, and dental solutions to help them combat disease and other oral health issues. 


Final Thoughts

In summary, dog's can experience poor oral health just like humans. The bacteria that make up plaque are present in every dog’s mouth this will eventually form tartar, which leads to dental disease and bad breath. To remove the plaque, it is useful to have a regular and effective dental care routine. 

Regular brushing along with daily dental dog chews, toys, and treats, will help your dog maintain good dental hygiene and a healthy breath.  A regular dental care routine at home helps to prevent dental disease which can seriously impact their overall quality of life. 

If you notice oral health issues or see that your dog is in pain, check their mouth and get them to the vet as soon as possible. Catching dental disease early can avoid them experiencing severe pain and future complications.

The best dental care for your dog can be provided by a combination of all of the options listed above. Staying on top of a regular daily routine will ensure to provide your dog with the best dental health.