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Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth

All dogs, regardless of the breed, need to have clean teeth and cleaning a dog’s teeth should be part of a dog’s general care. Two articles in “Your Dog,” a newsletter by Tuft’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, focus on the need for preventative care for healthy teeth and gums.

“A Dog’s Pearly Whites: Brushing Up on Teeth,” (March 1999), written by Kirah Ramage believes that basic dog dental care is very simple. The author states that you should start when your dog is young and get the puppy acclimated to having its mouth handled. Eventually, you move up to a gauze wrapped finger used to wipe all the teeth and then on to toothbrush and dog toothpaste. I know many dog owners who use a portable rechargeable toothbrush, just like the ones people use. Although it only takes a few seconds, Kirah Ramage states that studies have shown that everyday or every-other-day brushing makes a difference in stopping tartar build up and periodontal disease.

There are a variety of dental kits in catalogues, but according to the author, the central issues are “getting the gumline clean, handling the products properly and easily and finding products with which your dog is comfortable.” Bottom line, you need some sort of toothbrush and dog toothpaste. The author notes C.E.T. and Petrodex products, and mentions that the dog toothpaste does come in a variety of flavors. You will have to experiment to find out which your dog likes the best. The important part is the special enzymes within the toothpaste. Do NOT use products designed for humans. There are cholrhexidine gluconate rinses and gels, but you should always check with your veterinarian before doing anything beyond the basics of brushing.

The second article gives you the message in its title, “Brusha, Brusha, Brusha! Save your dog’s teeth, gums and more,” (February 2002). Written by Phyllis De Gioia, this article warns that you have to get rid of plaque before it forms into tartar. It is the mechanical action of brushing that helps to remove plaque above and below the gumline. She states, “While dogs on soft diets accumulate plaque more quickly than those on hard foods, you need to remove plaque from all dogs’ teeth.”

Dr.Laura Le Van, DVM, Clinical Assistant Professor, veterinary dentist at Tufts University Medicine and a Diplomat of the American Veterinary Dental College recommends a soft bristled toothbrush and believes that the rope toys used as a dental aid, “may cause problems as the loose string may get caught between the teeth causing a traumatized place for periodontitis to center.” She goes on to emphasize the fact that pet toothpastes are usually “antibacterial through enzymes that work with lactoperoxidase and more importantly found in saliva-to essentially form hydrogen peroxide, which is antibacterial.”

Although both articles mentioned the Petrodex dental products, both articles agreed that the C.E.T. products were better and the product specifically used for tartar control has more concentration of enzymes and is more abrasive.

Finally, Dr. Scott Kellogg,DVM and USKBTC H&G Chairman summed it up very succinctly in his recent post to the USKBTC elist. Dr. Kellogg stated, “All dogs accumulate tartar on their teeth, just like people. Once-a-year cleaning at your veterinarian is ideal–they should use an ultrasonic scaler and polisher. Groomers are not trained to clean teeth correctly (hair stylists do not clean human teeth–dental technicians do). Daily brushing helps to retard tartar formation, but typically, teeth will still need professional cleaning.

Carol Kearney

A new young Kerry owner, Anabel, forwarded the link below.  She found it when doing research on the breed and care of dogs.Surely a responsible dog owner in the making. thank you Anabel.


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