Brushing up on the basics
When caring for your pet’s teeth, it can be tempting to reach for the same products you’d use to look after your own – after all, our teeth are made from the same substance as our pets’, aren’t they?
While that may be the case, you should never reach for human toothpaste, which is highly toxic for pets. It contains fluoride and xylitol (an artificial sweetener), substances that could poison your dog.
Instead, always choose toothpaste and other dental products that are specifically formulated for your pet. Here are some great recommendations from experts and owners:
1. An enzymatic toothpaste
‘Puppies lose their milk teeth, so there’s no need to worry too much about their actual teeth at this stage,’ says Petplan veterinary expert Brian Faulkner. ‘Instead, what you should focus on is getting your dog used to having their mouth opened and touched, as this will help you to one day maintain their permanent teeth – which is vitally important as they get older.
‘With this in mind, I’d recommend using an enzymatic canine toothpaste, which comes in different flavours that are appealing to dogs. If you gently introduce tooth-brushing to your dog as a puppy, he’ll accept daily brushing as an adult.’
2. Natural chews
Clinical animal behaviourist Rosie Bescoby says chewing is also a great way of keeping canine teeth trouble-free. ‘For dogs, I’d suggest a variety of natural chews to keep their teeth healthy and plaque-free. Things like pizzle sticks, dried tendons or natural chews are ideal.’
3. An electric toothbrush
Anna Webb owns a five-year-old English toy terrier named Mr Binks, who has dental issues. ‘Mr Binks has a calcium deficiency,’ she explains, ‘which is unfortunately reflected in his teeth. To ensure that his teeth and gums are kept as healthy as possible, I brush them daily using an electric toothbrush that’s specially designed for dogs. I’ve found that it allows me to target problem teeth and work more effectively.’
4. Dental chew toys
‘My two-year-old French bulldog, Jasper, loves to chew so we use a dental rope toy to help keep his teeth clean and healthy,’ says Sira Bailey. ‘I make sure to let him chew it after meals to help remove any food that might be stuck to his teeth, and to prevent plaque from forming.’