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Learn why cleaning dogs’ teeth is so important

It’s something that’s often forgotten as a pet owner, but dog teeth cleaning is essential to maintain your pet’s dental integrity and avoid major issues down the track.

Let’s explore how to clean dogs’ teeth easily and without frightening your pet so they can have healthy, strong teeth for years to come.

Dog teeth cleaning is most effective when it is done regularly and correctly

Dental and periodontal disease (affecting both teeth and gums), is a common problem for pets. Bad diet, poor dental maintenance and a lack of understanding around the causes of poor dental hygiene all contribute to the development of dental/periodontal disease. It’s no wonder dental/periodontal disease is the most common health condition affecting pets, with 80% of dogs experiencing some level of dental/periodontal disease by three years old.

Just like our own teeth, knowing when and how to clean your dog’s teeth is as important as understanding the symptoms of poor dental hygiene. In addition to the recommended yearly dental checks performed by your vet, there are some things you can do yourself to assist your dog’s dental health. It must be a regular and consistent activity, and it includes everything from feeding your dog high-quality food, to giving them safe items that will help clean their teeth, and even brushing their teeth with a dog-friendly toothpaste.

Dental cleaning 101: How to brush dogs’ teeth

Ready to become a master of dog teeth cleaning? Learn how to brush your dog’s teeth in 4 easy steps:

  1. Repetition is key: Introduce brushing regularly but keep the initial sessions short and stress-free. Ensure your dog is calm before starting and give them praise throughout the cleaning process.
  2. Treats to start: Soak your finger in a liquid your dog loves, like beef stock, and rub it over their teeth to familiarise them with the brushing sensation.
  3. Cover it up: After the first few sessions with just the treat, place gauze over your finger and do the same brushing motion, praising your dog the whole time.
  4. Start brushing: When you feel like your dog is calm and comfortable with the brushing sensation, you can introduce a soft pet-friendly brush with doggy toothpaste. NOTE: Never use human toothpaste as this can cause stomach issues for your pet.

2 ways you can help your dog maintain healthy teeth

Just like you could consider protecting your wallet against expensive vet bills with pet insurance, so too could you protect your dog’s teeth with preventative measures, such as:

  • Toys and chews: Not only do specially designed dental toys provide mental stimulation for your dog, but they help with incidental teeth cleaning. Who knew that cleaning your dog’s teeth could also mean playtime for your pup?
  • Regular vet check-ups: Regular dental checks by your vet are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, particularly as your dog ages. Your vet will also be able to provide treatment options such as a professional scale and polish if your dog already has dental problems.

Dental/periodontal disease might be the most common affliction for pets, but it’s something that can be managed at home if you know how to help keep your dog’s teeth healthy in between regular dental checks by your vet.

Want more tips on how to give your pet a happy and healthy life? RSPCA Pet Insurance has a helpful pet care blog covering everything from training your dog to responsible pet ownership and useful information on a variety of dog breeds.

Image of Dr Rosemary Elliot

Dr Rosemary Elliot 

Dr Rosemary studied veterinary science at the University of Sydney after having established her career as a clinical psychologist, and has qualifications of BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Animal Welfare), MPsych (Clin), BA (Hons) as well as previously establishing her career as a clinical psychologist. Her experiences during veterinary training fostered an ambition to focus directly on animal welfare and ethics, with a particular interest in animal sentience and the human-animal bond. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Rosemary combines her psychology background and veterinary skills to contribute to and promote animal welfare, and regularly contributes quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance's Pet Care blog.