The do's and don'ts about dental hygiene, start brushing!

Dental Hygiene: Do’s and dont’s for your dog

In the first episode of the Dogs of Antwerpen podcast we talked about brushing your dogs teeth! Sir Jerom and Marcelandthecity asked Dogs of Antwerpen through Instagram about the do’s and don’ts of dental hygiene for dogs, and are there any alternatives? We asked veterinarian, and owner of LÈS Antwerp, Charlotte! Curious what she had to say? 😉

Brushing your teeth, easy right? We do it 2 times a day without even thinking about it anymore. It is so ingrained in our daily habits. Well, that’s not really the case for your dog, right? Let’s be honest here! We don’t either! 🙈

We know very well how important it is to brush our dogs teeth but since our dogs don’t like it, it’s an eternal battle just to get 1 tooth brushed. Can you relate? 😅 Exactly! So, our next step usually is to find some nice alternatives such as chew bones. But are those actually a good alternative or are we doing more wrong than right giving those to our puppy? We asked veterinarian Charlotte in the first episode of the Dogs of Antwerpen podcast. Let’s see what she had  to say about dental hygiene for dogs!

Scratch wet food, choose kibble!

First of all, do you give your dog wet food?

We know, your dog goes nuts for it, right? But it actually doesn’t have any added value to the diet of your dog and it’s not good for the teeth at all. 

Wet food tends to stick to their teeth which results in bad breath and dental plaque. And that is difficult to get rid of! So, what is a better alternative?

Simple: good kibble! When your dog eats his/her kibble, the size of the kibble makes sure they really have to bite in it instead of inhale their wet food. Because of that, the kibble scrapes the teeth which eliminates dental plaque and this helps the dental hygiene

The scraping effect is the most important in dental hygiene. The scraping makes sure the dental plaque is scraped off of the dogs teeth which keeps the teeth clean and free of dental plaque and tartar.

Yes to chew bones!

But be careful which chew bone you choose!

Next, a good chew bone will also help. It has the same scraping effect as the kibble and thus will keep the teeth of your dog clean too. But be careful which brand you choose! We all know the Pedigree Dentastix. They don’t actually work for your dog since they are filled with fat and sugar. They are not healthy, just tasty.

Luckily there are a lot of good alternatives for your pup’s dental hygiene! Veterinarian Charlotte gives us some examples:

  • VeggiedentVeggiedent might not be very know, but it is very good! Especially for dog owners who like to give their dog a vegetarian diet. And your dog won’t be able to inhale this in 5 seconds! 😅 Make sure you give your dog the right size of Veggiedent stick and he will enjoy it much longer!

  • Another alternative is Orozyme: Orozyme is a dental stick which consist of enzymes. These enzymes activate the right bacteria in your dogs mouth which will prevent dental plaque and tartare. Usually these kinds of sticks also have a rough surface which ensures the scraping effect of the teeth. On top of that, it has a nice smell and your dog will enjoy since it’s not gone in 5 seconds. Make sure to choose the right size of stick. It’s important to make sure they don’t choke on it! Usually they have the sticks in small, medium and large.

  • Another option is a beef or pig bone: We all know these kinds of bones. We’ve all been there when we’re walking around in the dog store with our puppy and before we know it, our dog is pulling us towards these giant bones (which look terrible, let’s be honest. But must be tasteful). These bones are good for dental hygiene too. Just make sure this bone is not cooked since it can splinter easily. These splinters can get digested in the stomach and intestines. And that’s not something you want. So make sure the bone is large and hard enough, and mostly not cooked.

Did you know:

When choosing a chew bone, always go for beef or pig bones. Never chicken or other poultry bones. These bones can splinter much more easily since they are smaller than beef or pig bones.

Brush it!

Yes, we know. It can be a struggle to brush your dogs teeth. So this step is not something you wanted to read, right? Unfortunately there is no magic trick to brush your dogs teeth without brushing his teeth. So buy yourself a toothbrush and get going!

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You really want the scraping effect when brushing your dogs teeth. That is what keeps them clean.
  • Get yourself a tooth brush for your dog. A toothbrush for humans works fine too. Is this too large? Buy one for dogs, or get yourself a finger brush or a finger pad. Find out what works best for you and your dog.
  • Brush the front teeth, but also the teeth in the back of the mouth! These might be the most difficult to reach but these teeth are most receptive of tarter and dental plaque.
  • NEVER USE HUMAN TOOTH PASTE for your dog! It’s toxic! There are tooth pastes for dogs but it doesn’t actually have a clinical purpose other than making your dog like brushing his teeth because the tooth paste taste so nice! I saw that Orozyme toothpaste also exists. That’s a win-win!

  • Ask your veterinarian to show you how to brush your dogs teeth. There is an easier way than just diving in and seeing where it will take you. Hold your dogs mouth a bit shut (not completely!) by holding his snout closed. Make sure you don’t put your hand or any fingers on his/her eyes or nose! You don’t want to stress your dog out. You wouldn’t like that either, right? The reason why you want to keep the snout shut is you want to prevent your dog from licking constantly (because of the toothpaste). This licking will make it harder for you to reach all the teeth. So once you are ready, start brushing your dogs teeth by lifting his/her cheek with your fingers. Don’t forget to reach all the way to the back because that is where the most plaque will be. And remember, practise makes perfect!

Tips & tricks from Charlotte:

Teach ‘em young! Start ‘test’ brushing the teeth of your puppy when he/she is young! You’ll get them used to it already so it won’t be a struggle of dear life once they’re older. 😉 Incorporate this in your daily puppy training!

Did you know:

Small dogs are more receptive to dental plaque and tartar than large dogs? So buy yourself an appropriate tooth brush, and start digging in!


But, what if your dog already has too much tartar on his/her teeth? 

If that’s the case, no kibble or bone will get rid of that. You’ll need to contact your veterinarian to let it get surgically removed. No worries, it’s very safe to put your dog under narcoses. It’s just not fun, right? So, let’s brush those teeth, shall we? 

At veterinary De Vroente Charlotte and her colleague makes sure the dental treatment goes smoothly and without stress for the dog. This means you and your dog come in the practice and you get an explanation of the different steps which will be taken. Make sure your dog hasn’t eaten anything that day. It’s the same for us, right?

Afterwards your dog will be put under narcoses while the vet assistant is holding and hugging your puppy. This way your dog isn’t stressed and just goes to sleep peacefully. 

To be able to give your dog anaesthetics, Charlotte uses a catheter which is inserted in a vain of his paw with a certain substance which will make sure your dog drifts of into a nice sleep. Afterwards, when your pup has dosed off, a gas mask is used to keep your dog asleep during the treatment. And all of this is done in a calm manner.

Once your pup is asleep, his vitals are constantly monitored by the vet technician while Charlotte is cleaning the teeth. Afterwards, your pup is lain in his bench with some warm blankets and Casper, Charlotte’s dog, watches over your dog. When your puppy has woken up, it’s time of him/her to go home! 

Did you know?

Such a gas mask is really safe! Once the gas is turned off, your dog will wake instantly. And it’s the same feeling when we are going under for a surgery. 

So, I think the message is pretty clear, right? Brush those toofers

Do you have everything you need to keep those teeth clean?

If not, I’ve listed the products Charlotte mentioned here:

Let me know if these tips and tricks worked our for you! Or if you have some other ideas, let me know in the comments! 

Do you have a question for an expert about anything dog related? Send me a message via Instagram or contact me via the contact page. I’d be happy to help you out!

Jowkes, Ciaokes, (b)aaikes!

Jill Cools
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