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Dog dental cleaning: Do I Need to Clean My Dog’s Teeth?

by Vetic Editorial

Dental cleaning and dental hygiene are of utmost importance for any dog. Dental diseases are extremely common in our canine friends. In fact, it comes only second to ear infections in dogs. So, cleaning your dog’s teeth is extremely important no matter their age or breed. 

Why do I need to clean my dog’s teeth?

Did you know? By the time your dog is just 3 years old, they can show the first signs of dental disease. In veterinary terms, canine periodontal disease means the buildup of tartar and plaque on your dog’s teeth. It can lead to gum infections and pain. In later stages, veterinarians notice tooth decay and tooth loss. 

gloved hands slightly lifting the lips of a brown Labrador retriever to expose the dog's teeth.

It can be extremely painful for any dog to experience periodontal disease. At the same time, the infections can spread from your dog’s gums to their heart. Without proper cleaning and treatment at the right time, dogs can experience severe health risks by the time they are only 4 years old!

How can I keep my dog’s teeth clean?

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean is not a challenge. Today, we have several products that can help you maintain their dental hygiene. Some of the best veterinary clinics offer complete grooming services that include dental cleaning for all dogs and puppies. 

Ideally, you should begin with tooth brushing and cleaning when your pooch is just a pup. It’s never too early to implement dental hygiene practices. At the same time, if your furbaby is an adult now, you should introduce the concept of dental cleaning to them slowly. It’s never too late to begin good dental hygiene practices either. 

Not all dogs prefer the same methods of dental cleaning and hygiene. So, we have a few options our veterinarians recommend for every pup and dog. 

Dental sprays for dog teeth cleaning

Doggy dental sprays now come in different flavours that your dog can try. Most of these dental cleaning sprays have chlorhexidine in them which cleans plaque and reduces the chances of dental infection. 

If your pet already has dental plaque, you may need to clean their teeth more than once a day. However, speak to your veterinarian first to find out what type of dental spray your pooch needs right now. 

Doggy toothbrushes and toothpaste

Doggy toothpastes are completely different from the toothpaste we use. NEVER use human toothpaste for your four-legged buddies. Their toothpaste not only “tastes” better for them, but they also don’t have xylitol and fluoride. Our toothpaste is not safe for our dogs, although they may love the extra minty flavour. 

hands holding dog's mouth open slightly to introduce a toothbrush to clean the dog's teeth clean.

Most of their toothbrushes are like finger gloves. They have super soft bristles and you can slip the toothbrush on your finger. You may find it easier to introduce the concept of toothbrushing and toothpaste to your puppy. Adult dogs require some time. You can give them a little taste of the toothpaste by applying it on your finger. Your dog needs to feel that the toothbrush and paste are safe for them before you can comfortably brush their teeth.

Dental treats for your dog’s teeth

Dental treats do work in minimising plaque and tartar formation. However, if you want to go with dental treats, make sure they do not contain any additives that upset your dog’s stomach. They should be low in calories and fat. If your dog is already overweight, you should definitely watch how many dental treats they are having per day. 

Dental treats work pretty well when there is minimal plaque. If your dog already has periodontal disease, then you will need a more aggressive cleaning. These treats can remove plaque and freshen up your dog’s breath. 

Chew sticks for cleaning your dog’s teeth

It is a fantastic time for all dogs since there are literally hundreds of chew stick styles and flavours to explore! Doggy chew sticks almost always have the power to clean teeth. They have a texture hard enough to scrape off the plaque buildup.

a small-breed dog holding a chew-bone between the front paws and gnawing on it. Gnawing can remove plaque and improve dog's teeth health.

Apart from helping the teething process in puppies, dental chew sticks are effective in staving off canine periodontal disease. Many of these doggy chew sticks are all-natural. They mostly contain meat with a hint of veggies. They are antibacterial. If you want zero-calorie chewies, you can opt for chew toys. 

Doggy diets for dental health

Dogs that eat wet food or homemade food are sadly more likely to have plaque buildup within 4 to 5 years. Although soft food may be easier to chew and digest, they don’t clean your dog’s teeth optimally. Adding bones is NEVER a good idea to their food since they can cause teeth and mouth injuries, and increase the chances of choking and injuries to the digestive tract. 

It’s always better to switch to kibbles or other dental diet food for dogs. The latter is difficult to find in India, but not impossible. Some brands have kibbles specifically designed to promote plaque removal. 

Professionally cleaning your dog’s teeth 

If your dog has periodontal disease or excessive plaque formation, your veterinarian will recommend professional dental cleaning. It involves dental scaling using state-of-the-art equipment designed specifically for our four-legged companions. 

small dog, likely a Jack Russell Terrier getting their teeth cleaned professionally with a scaling tool specifically designed for dog's teeth.

For the safety of your dog, they will be under mild anaesthesia when the veterinarian cleans their teeth. Dogs with a particular propensity for dental plaques and tartar may need professional dental cleaning once a year. Due to the involvement of anaesthesia, your vet will also recommend extensive pre-anaesthetic testing before the procedure. Switch to a dental diet and use dental chew sticks to keep plaque build-up to a minimum after a professional dental cleaning. 

Are some dogs more prone to dental diseases as compared to others?

Firstly, we see dental diseases more frequently in adults and older dogs. Secondly, even in younger dogs, flat-faced breeds and some mixed breeds are indeed more prone to dental diseases. 

Brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, Boxers, Shih Tzus, French Bulldogs, and even Pomeranians have poor dental setups. They can have severe underbites and uneven teeth. Therefore plaque buildup is fairly common even by the time they are only 1 year old. 

If your pupper is brachycephalic, make it a habit of brushing their teeth from the time they are around 60 days old. Before they are 60 days, clean their gums and teeth softly but firmly using your fingers. It will familiarise them with the feeling of dental brushing and cleaning. 

Should I opt for professionally cleaning my dog’s teeth?

First, you should take your dog for a dental checkup. It can be a part of their routine health checkup as well. At Vetic, our veterinarians always check a dog’s dental condition before progressing with further physical examination and treatment. 

Image of two chew bones, likely made of raw-hide, and dental-friendly kibbles in a blue bowl. the right chew sticks and kibbles can improve a dog's teeth condition.

Secondly, at Vetic, we offer dental cleaning for dogs and puppies during grooming. Check out our grooming services to know more about the products and processes our expert groomers use to clean your dog’s teeth. 

Finally, if your veterinarian confirms that your dog has excessive plaque and tartar buildup then you should definitely opt for professional cleaning services. Dental infection is a serious health risk for any dog since it can easily spread through the blood vessels directly into the heart. 

However, always ensure that the clinic or animal hospital has state-of-the-art medical infra just like Vetic. Since your pooch will require multiple blood tests and anaesthesia for the procedure. 

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