Red getting some dog dental care

Dog Dental Care

dog dental care

It’s interesting to me that dog dental care is not taken as seriously as it should be.

There is a whole month (February) dedicated to spreading the word about the importance of pet dental health, yet I wonder if the message is getting through. I guess it’s time for me to do my part then!

Why is it so important?

I guess I want to re-word that question and ask “how can it not be important?” A lack of oral hygiene over the years will catch up with our dogs and can cause serious organ damage (heart, urgent dog dental care is neededkidney, liver) as infection enters the bloodstream, significantly shortening their life.

Not every case will be that extreme, but that doesn’t mean your dog is not experiencing pain from a toothache or infection, right now! Dogs are good at hiding pain so just because you aren’t noticing an obvious change in his behaviour, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem festering and getting worse.

Think back to how much pain you’ve been in from a cavity or abscess. You were able to reach for some pain relief and visit the dentist, your dog has to wait for you to figure it out.

There is good news though because it’s never too late to start caring for your dog’s teeth, and right now is the best time to start.

Signs that may indicate periodontal disease in dogs

  • Bad breath is a very obvious indicator of a problem, and no it is not natural for dogs to have bad breath
  • Loss of interest in eating
  • Not chewing on a favourite toy
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Red getting some dog dental careWon’t let you near his mouth
  • Swallows without chewing
  • Favours one side when eating
  • Less interested in playing
  • Drooling

Yikes these signs look familiar. What do I do?

The best thing to do is make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. I’m not suggesting it’s a bad idea to buy doggie toothpaste and a toothbrush, but it won’t fix any current problems.

What will my vet do?

Tell your vet your concerns and any symptoms you may have noticed. Even if your dog is symptom free, now is as good a time as any to have a dental checkup.  

He will check your dog’s mouth and determine, to the best of his ability, what he believes is going on. Bear in mind some dogs are extremely uncooperative, like my dog Red for example, so he may not get as good a look as he would like. Your vet will then make a determination as to a treatment plan, which can include pain medication, antibiotics or surgery.

Red having her recent dental checkup


If surgery is recommended the next part of that conversation will be about risk and expense. Money is an issue for many of us, but we’ve taken on the responsibility of sharing our lives with pets, it is our responsibility to care for them as best as we can.

Have an honest conversation about the cost, because in my experience it’s always more than you expect. When dealing with the vets I have loved it was not because they were trying to scam me (as too often happens), but rather because it’s impossible to know what they will find once they start the dental work. Every extraction and x ray will add to the cost, so ask for the price of each separately, so there are no huge shocks when you get the bill. Having said that, no matter how prepared, it’s always a shock.

Ultimately the decision is yours, but if it’s recommended and you put it off, the problems can only get worse, your dog will get older adding to the risk, surgery will be longer, more invasive and the cost higher.

There are lots of things you can do to, hopefully, avoid another surgery

Yearly or twice yearly checks

Make sure during your yearly, or twice yearly checkups for senior dogs, the vet takes a good look at your dog’s mouth.  

Regular brushing

We brush our teeth regularly to keep our teeth, gums and mouth as healthy as we can, is it so farfetched to believe we should be doing the same for our dogs?

The more often you brush the better, so if you can do it daily, fantastic. If not, do it as many times a week as you can. A quick brush is better than nothing.

There are a number of styles of toothbrush, so it might be a case of trial and error. Here are some of the options…

  • Long handled with a brush on one end
  • Long handled with a large brush on one end, small one on the other
  • A finger brush that, you got it, fits over your finger and has bristles at the top
  • 3 sided brush
  • Electric toothbrush
  • A simple piece of gauze wrapped around your finger

Only use a toothpaste specifically designed for dogs. There are a variety of flavours to entice, or make your own using one of the many homemade recipes you can find online.  

How to brush your dog’s teeth


Your dog won’t let you near his mouth

You’ve tried the different toothbrushes, bought every flavour toothpaste, and your dog won’t let you near his mouth. Don’t worry you can buy tooth gel that you just rub on your dog’s teeth to help prevent plaque, and even a powder to sprinkle on his food.

Will these, or the other options I’m going to talk about in a minute take the place of regular brushing? Not according to my vet, but they are all still worth implementing into your dog’s new dental routine, because everything you do will make a difference.

Dental chews

The act of “gnawing” helps scrape the teeth, remove plaque and stimulate the gums. If you are unable to brush your dog’s teeth, then I highly recommend dental chews. Even if you do brush raw carrot is a good dental care treatthey will still help, and relieve boredom.

When deciding which chews to buy, walk away from any with an ingredient list as long as the packaging that is impossible to identify. If your dog has diet restrictions, check the ingredients with your vet first.

Never leave your dog unattended when he has a bone or a chew.

Chew toys

Chew toys, textured chew bones, rubber bones and rope toys are great additions to your dog’s oral hygiene routine. The benefit of a toy over an actual food product is the lack of calories, and no ingredients that might be forbidden in your dog’s diet. Keep things interesting by switching between toys and chews.

Water additive

A mouthwash added to your dog’s water bowl is another worthwhile product, but not to be relied on to be effective on its’ own. They may alter the taste of the water, but my dogs have never had a problem. If you notice your dog drinking less or not at all, stop using it right away. Keeping your dog well hydrated is crucial.  

Raw food diet

Gnawing on raw meat acts as a teeth cleaner, a natural toothbrush, and chewing on raw bones can help remove tartar. It seems there is a lower incidence of dental disease in animals on a raw food diet, although that does not mean dental disease never happens.

Please don’t run out and buy raw meat or bones without consulting a holistic vet, or your regular vet to determine if it’s right for your dog.

What I do for my senior dog Red

Red weighs 10lbs, but if you go anywhere near her mouth she’ll clamp that jaw shut and nothing is getting in. I assume a lot of that has to do with the fact she’s blind and doesn’t know what’s senior dog dental carehappening, although you’d think after all these years she’d get used to it…but no.

I do have a long handled toothbrush and I start off with great intentions but she’s so stressed and gets herself so worked up, over time it becomes too much and I stop.  

I have found that wrapping gauze around my finger is tolerated a bit more, and I was using a tooth gel directly on her teeth, so no brush is needed. Unfortunately they were never going to fix the problems she already had and those needed to be addressed.

She’s 15ish and had dental surgery 2 days ago. Not an ideal scenario at her age, but I went ahead with it because:

I trust my vet with her life and I knew if something were to happen during the surgery, it would not have been his fault.

I was worried she may be feeling pain and that is not something I can accept.

If I waited and in a few months’ time we checked again, all that would mean is she would be a few months older and more at risk.

I made the right decision because things were worse than he expected. Once she was sedated and he was able to have a good look, he could see things were bad and needed x rays to see the true picture. Long story short she had 6 teeth removed.

The first night was a bit tough as I knew it would be. She’s blind so being groggy is scary for her. She’s on pain medication and I gave her Arnica to help her body recover from the surgery and she’s doing well.

I was feeling quite responsible because nothing is more important than her care, but the vet felt in her case age did play a large part in what was going on.

In a few days when her mouth has healed I will start with the gauze and some gel. Even a few seconds is better than nothing, because I never want her going through that experience again.

Dog dental care – conclusion

I hope you see how important dog dental care is for the overall health of your dog, and how easy it can be to include in your daily routine.


Do you brush your dog’s teeth? How often? What type of toothbrush and toothpaste do you use?


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Toothbrushes For Small Dogs

toothbrushes for small dogs

Good oral hygiene can literally save your dog’s life, so in this post I’m going to be showing you some examples of toothbrushes for small dogs.

Dog dental care is such an important issue, not enough can be written about it. It is important not only in terms of oral hygiene, but as a way to prevent serious illness. The more often you can brush senior dog dental careyour dog’s teeth the better, but if your dog has other plans, doing something is better than doing nothing. On the days when brushing isn’t happening, try an oral spray, tooth gel, dental chew or toy. 

By all means get your dog a toothbrush, but if it’s been awhile since you’ve had your dog’s teeth checked, I recommend making an appointment with your vet as soon as you can. It’s important to have a clear picture of your dog’s oral health, and whether or not medical intervention is required. Leaving dental issues unresolved can lead to bigger problems down the road. 

In order to help get you set up and brushing your dog’s teeth as soon as possible, I have included links that will allow you to buy the products right away. No pressure here folks, but if you can prevent your dog from having to undergo dental surgery, I wouldn’t waste too much time getting started caring for your dog’s teeth.

Types of toothbrushes

There are a variety of styles to choose from, depending on what your dog will be okay with. Some dogs are agreeable from the get go, others need some encouragement. It’s quite possible finding a toothbrush your dog accepts will be a case of trial and error. There are those with long handles, 3 sides, electric and even ones that fit over your finger. 

Long handled


Micha pet toothbrush for small dogs

Long handled toothbrushes that resemble those we use for ourselves, are one option. There are straight and curved handles, some with one brush, others with a brush on either end – one large and one small.


3 sided toothbrush for small dogs

Three sided toothbrushes cover all parts of the tooth and gum.


electric toothbrush for small dogs

Even electric toothbrushes are available.

Finger brush

Emours finger toothbrush for small dogs

A finger toothbrush that fits, well yes, over your finger, for greater control.

My experience

I can’t get any type of brush near Red’s mouth. She’s only little, but when she clamps those jaws, nothing is opening them, not even my vet. I used to be able to, with a struggle, brush them but not lately. It may have something to do with her dementia, but whatever the reason for her change in attitude, it has been a challenge. I have started using gauze wrapped around my finger, and she tolerates it so I’m considering that a victory.

Toothbrushes for small dogs  – conclusion

How do you brush your dog’s teeth? If you haven’t been taking dental health into consideration, I’m not going to lie, many of us don’t, what will be your first step? Has your dog suffered any health issues as a direct result of dental disease?

When it comes to buying toothbrushes for smaller dogs, it may be a case of trial and error, but it’s too important an issue to not persevere.








Dog Dental Chews: Do They Help Keep Teeth Clean?

Bailey eating a ligament

We’re getting the message about the importance of brushing our dog’s teeth, so we want to know if dog dental chews will help. 

In previous posts we looked at various toothbrushes and toothpastes, now it’s time to talk about dog dental chews.

We already know how plaque can build up on our dog’s teeth, just like it does on our own. We also know how important good oral hygiene is to prevent plaque from turning into tartar, causing inflamed gums, infection, periodontal disease and even organ damage.

So since we know all that, what are we going to do to prevent it? Well, hopefully you will have started brushing your dog’s tooth, even though I know how challenging that can be!!

I have a little 10lb dog with the sweetest nature you will ever come across, but go near her with a toothbrush, and her jaws clamp shut like a steel trap!

Where to start?

Always start with a trip to the vet, so he can have a good look in your dog’s mouth. Once you know the condition of your dog’s teeth, then you can plan a course of action.

Will dental chews prevent dental disease?

No, not by themselves, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t beneficial.

How do chews help?

The action of gnawing on a dental bone, stick, or even a toy helps scrape the teeth. For it to be effective, your dog will have to do it for at least a few minutes. The benefit of a toy over an actual dog dental chewsfood product is the lack of calories, and no ingredients that might be forbidden in your dog’s diet.

Many vets recommend buying treats with the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s seal of approval. That means studies were conducted to prove the efficacy of these products, and their safety.

I was very surprised to notice their seal on some products that don’t have the best quality ingredients. I was particularly shocked at their approval of a very popular dental chew that has so many ingredients, I’m not exaggerating when I say I stopped counting at 25. That can’t be necessary!

Of course the ones you choose are up to you, but I recommend you get your vet’s input, just to be sure the ingredients are safe for your dog. 

Are they worth it then?

If it’s the only thing being offered in the way of dental care, than it is certainly better than doing nothing. Ideally, a multipronged approach has the best chance of succeeding. Nothing wrong with some dental chews or chew toys, as long as it’s part of a bigger plan, like regular brushing and dental checks by your vet.

In addition to helping clean their teeth, there is the added benefit of giving your dog something to do to stave off boredom.

Things to consider before making a purchase

nutritional value

If your senior dog has some health issues, or is on condition specific food, speak to your vet about the ingredients of the products you’re thinking of buying, to ensure they are safe.


They may be considered dental chews and not treats, but they still contain calories. Perhaps instead of giving one daily, alternate with a chew toy. You don’t want your dog gaining weight, as that will lead to a whole host of other complications you want to avoid. Check out the low calorie options!


Always supervise your dog when giving treats he’ll be chewing on. Small pieces can be a choking hazard, so when it’s near the end, take it away and throw it out. Why take the risk?


When buying chews, consider the size of your dog and the size of the chew. If your dog finishes it in a couple of bites, he has not gotten any benefit from it. The benefit is in the gnawing away at it.

place of origin

Because of pet product recalls, there is a genuine concern about where pet products are made. What are you comfortable with?

product safety

Be aware of cheap products, unsafe toys, sharp bones and the like when making your selection.

Let’s move on…

I have put together a portfolio of various treats for you to consider. Check them out, see what you think, and remember to confirm the safety of the ingredients with your vet.

Dog dental chews - conclusion

After reading this post, what do you think of dog dental chews as part of your dog's oral care plan? 


which dog toothbrush should I buy

Which Dog Toothbrush Should I Buy?

which dog toothbrush should I buy

Believe me, dental disease is something you’re going to want to avoid if at all possible, and a dog toothbrush is a great start.    

See your vet

Nothing wrong with buying a toothbrush right now (and don’t forget the toothpaste!), but I recommend you make an appointment to have your dog’s teeth checked by your vet. This way you’ll know where you stand in terms of what, if any medical intervention is required, and then you can make a plan.

Okay, here are some toothbrushes

Long handled toothbrushes resemble those we use for ourselves. Straight or curved handles, one head or two, large brushes, small brushes or both. 

Three sided toothbrushes are great for covering all parts of the tooth and gum.

A finger toothbrush that fits, well yes, over your finger, for greater control.

Even electric toothbrushes are available.

Click on the image and it will take you straight to where you can learn more information about the toothbrush, and purchase it if you wish. No pressure, it’s just that I’ve had too much experience with dogs that had dental issues, if I can help you avoid going down that road, I’ll be happy. 

My experience

Red makes it virtually impossible to brush her teeth. You can see in the above video how hard it is for my vet to even have a look in her mouth. She may only weight 10lbs but when she clamps those jaws, nothing is opening them. I imagine the fact she’s blind has something to do with it. I do have a long handled toothbrush with a big brush on one head, a small one on the other which is the perfect size for her mouth. It’s a serious struggle, and not a fun experience because of how stressed she gets. The one thing that is more manageable is wrapping a piece of gauze around my finger and rubbing her teeth with that. 

Which dog toothbrush should I buy  – conclusion

There really are a lot of styles to choose from, you may get lucky with the first one you buy, or it can be a case of trial and error. What’s important is that you start doing something in the way of caring for your dog’s teeth. So, which dog toothbrush will you buy? 





the importance of oral care in dogs

Canines and Cavities: The Importance of Oral Care in Dogs

It’s unfortunate dog dental care, and specifically senior dog dental care is not taken as seriously as it should be. 

You want me to what? Brush my dog’s teeth? Like with a toothbrush and toothpaste? Ridiculous! Admit it, you’ve had the same reaction haven’t you!! Don’t worry you’re not alone, but hopefully by the time you reach the end of this post you’ll realise how important it really is. 

In actual fact it could save your dog’s life!

While it’s not uncommon to see dental disease in young dogs, serious problems often present themselves when a dog is older. The main reason being lack of proper oral hygiene over the years finally catching up with them. The canines and cavities the importance of oral care in dogsvery good news is it’s never too late to start caring for your dog’s teeth, and right now is the best time to start.

Oral hygiene in dogs – why is it so important?

Serious organ damage (heart, kidney, liver) can occur when infection enters the bloodstream, which can significantly shorten your dog’s life. Let’s not forget the discomfort dental problems cause. Think about how painful a toothache or infection is to you!

Signs that may indicate dental problems

  • Bad breath – contrary to popular belief, bad breath is not a given
  • Pawing at his mouth
  • Doesn’t let you near his mouth
  • Lethargic – can be caused by bacteria in the body
  • Lost interest in eating
  • Seems to swallow without chewing
  • Favours one side when eating
  • Less interested in playing
  • Isn’t chewing his favourite toys
  • Drooling

Is my dog in pain?

It depends on the state of your dog’s mouth. It’s possible your dog’s oral hygiene is better than you think, and all that’s needed is regular brushing. However if that’s not the case than yes, your dog could be in a significant amount of pain, which is why regular dental checks are so important.

We can reach for pain relief, they can’t!! Dogs rely on us to keep them pain free, and because they are so good at hiding it, it’s extremely important for us to be vigilant in their care. 

If I see any of these signs, what should I do?

The first thing you must do is schedule a visit to your vet to determine the current state of your dog’s teeth and mouth. Only then can a plan be mapped out, and a course of action started. Request the earliest appointment your vet has available. Your dog is obviously experiencing some level of discomfort, if not outright pain, so the sooner his problems are diagnosed, the quicker your dog will be feeling better.

dog dental surgery

What can I expect to happen during the appointment?

Your vet will have as good a look at your dog’s mouth as possible. Many dogs make that very difficult (like mine for example!!), so vets sometimes are only allowed a quick glimpse. Depending on the state of his teeth, that glimpse might be sufficient for a starting point.

Antibiotics may be prescribed to tackle the immediate infection, and eliminate the associated pain. 

It’s very likely (I say this solely based on experience) surgery will be required. No one likes to hear that word (risks, expense), but you pretty much don’t have a choice.

Of course given the fact your dog is a senior, there is always a concern putting them under anaesthesia.

I had the same concerns a few years ago when Red needed dental surgery. First of all, I have complete trust in my vet, so I knew if something went wrong, it would not be because he panicked, or didn’t know what he was doing. She was given as light an anaesthetic as possible, something they would give newborns. Other then having a bad first night while the anaesthetic wore off which is to be expected, she was fine.

Your vet won’t be able to tell you exactly what work will need to be done, until he’s had a chance to properly examine your dog’s mouth when he’s sedated. Barring any problems, he’ll be home with you the same day.

Ask about pain medication, or what to expect that first night.

What measures can I take to avoid a repeat of this?

I can’t guarantee your dog won’t require veterinary intervention again, but I can make recommendations that will reduce the chances.

Regular brushing

Use doggie toothpaste and toothbrush. Ideally you’d like to give his teeth a quick brush daily, but if it’s not happening, do your best. Long handled dog toothbrushes come in a couple of different sizes, or try a rubber one the importance of oral care in dogsthat fits over your finger. A gauze pad wrapped around your finger can be effective as well. Dental sprays and powders are also available if it’s impossible to brush your dog’s teeth. 

Dog dental chews

Dental chews can help remove plaque and stimulate the gums, and if your dog doesn’t allow you near his mouth, this will at least do some good. When choosing, look at the ingredient list and find ones with ingredients you can identify. If your dog has diet restrictions, check the ingredients with your vet first.

As always, when giving your dog bones or chews, never leave him unattended, small pieces are a choking hazard.

Chew toys for dogs

Chew toys, textured chew bones, rubber bones and rope toys are a few examples of toys to help keep on top of your dog’s oral hygiene.

Water additive

Look at it like mouthwash for dogs, it’s added to the water and, apparently, has been clinically proven to reduce plaque. Relying on this method alone will not be effective, but if you want to add it to your overall plan…

It may alter the taste of the drinking water, so if your dog isn’t liking the taste, you may want to try another flavour or brand. 

Raw food diet

Gnawing on raw meat acts as a teeth cleaner, a natural toothbrush, and chewing on raw bones can help remove tartar. From what I understand, there seems to be a lower incidence of dental disease in animals on a raw food diet, although it can still happen.

A word of caution – don’t just go out and buy raw meat or raw bones for your dog. You must consult a holistic vet first (or your regular vet if they’re familiar with raw food diets) to determine if it’s right for your dog.

Regular dental checks

Senior health checks are typically carried out twice a year, so make sure a dental check is included.

Canines and cavities – conclusion

I admit brushing teeth is not something that goes down well in this household, but I like knowing there are options that help me care for my pups. What steps are you planning on taking to make senior dog dental care a part of your dog’s health and wellness plan?  


I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, a new Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.


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