Dogs and cats need their teeth cleaned for the same reasons humans do. Plaque build up and bacteria can cause damage to the gums and decay of the tooth enamel. Damaged teeth can causefurther health problems and affect internal organ function.
Like humans, the most effective way to clean a dog’s teeth is to brush them. How well you brush their teeth will determine the outcome.
The most effective toothpaste we’ve found is Dentisept. However, Dentisept is very strong and contains chlorhexidine, an antiseptic. We recommend using this dental paste for very bad teeth with plaque and tartar build up or for a more thorough application once a week. You may want to start with a milder enzyme based toothpaste that’s more palatable or opt for a natural peppermint based toothpaste. In order to familiarise your pet with brushing teeth we recommend starting the procedure as a puppy.
An alternative to the toothbrush is using adamp cloth. Apply an enzyme based toothpaste or peppermint toothpaste on a damp micro cloth or flannel and clean the teeth in circular motions. You can actually feel the teeth and you can notice which areas need more attention. Work very slowly and gently. This is a very gentle way of cleaning your pet’s teeth and even the most stubborn of dogs and cats will give in eventually. Pets who do not tolerate having their teeth brushed are often happier with this procedure. If your animal doesn’t open their mouth for you, you can try to apply the toothpaste on the outside of the teeth. Aim to treat the entire surface of the teeth.
Chews for animals who do not tolerating any procedure:
For animals that won’t open their mouth or do not tolerate the cleaning procedure we recommend Logic chews. Logic chews are extremely palatable and very effective. They largely prevent plaque and bacteria formation and are very effective as the chewing action assists in the removal of plaque. The shortcoming here is that some areas may get cleaned less. If your dog does not like the taste of logic chews there are other brands as well as dental foods available. Our nursing staff is happy to offer advice.
Animals who are fussy eaters:
Adding some toothpaste on to a flavoured treat will help even the fussiest of eaters. For example, dried duck or dried chicken breast combined with toothpaste could be used as the meat fibres clean between the teeth. For cats or small dogs we also carry smaller chews. The chewing action will assist in the removal of plaque without having to use a toothbrush.
Finger Toothbrush Glove
You can also try wearing finger toothbrush gloves or applying the toothpaste on your index finger. However, this method is not as effective as using a toothbrush. We would recommend brushing where possible as you are not removing plaque build up on the teeth. Hence when using this method we would recommend using Dentisept. It can be applied with either the applicator provided or using your finger. We recommend wearing gloves for finger application, as the Dentisept is an adhesive dental paste with a sticky consistency.
We recommend an annual dental check. You can combine this with your annual health check and vaccine booster or you can book in for a dental check with a veterinary nurse or veterinary surgeon.
Please be aware that sometimes, despite our best efforts with daily dental care at home, some animals may still require a full dental scale and polish by the veterinary team at some point in their lives.
By Denise Bleckman
Managing Director/ Roehampton Veterinary Clinic