How do I clean my dog's teeth?

Cleaning dog's teeth

(Q) I've been considering brushing my three-year-old dog's teeth. Is this a good idea? Do you have any advice on how to do this?

(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: If you can get your dog to tolerate tooth brushing it will definitely help to keep his mouth healthy. It will help to prevent the build up of plaque and tartar, helping to keep the gums and teeth healthy. However, it will not, at this stage, remove tartar that is already there - if this is an issue, your dog's teeth may need a scale and polish.

Tooth brushing is harder to start in a mature dog than a pup. In the first instance I would suggest that you get a finger toothbrush (which fits over the finger) and a baby toothbrush, and some pet toothpaste, and try to clean his teeth as you would your own, every day, with whichever type of toothbrush he tolerates best. Logic Oral Hygiene Gel works particularly well as a toothpaste as it helps to reduce plaque even if not brushed on thoroughly, so if your dog is difficult it can still be effective. It can also be given on food rather than as a toothpaste (although the latter is most effective).

If your dog doesn't tolerate toothbrushing well, you could consider adding Aquadent to his drinking water as this can also reduce plaque build-up. In the long run, keeping your dog's mouth healthy is very important as dental infections can spread through the bloodstream to other organs.