My dog has bad breath - what do I do?

Min hund har dårlige ånde - hvad gør jeg?

Dental care - against bad breath, tartar & periodontal disease in dogs

When the dog eats, bacteria settles on the surface of the teeth (plaque) - just like in humans. The bacteria gather especially in the gum pockets at the transition between tooth and gum.

This can give rise to gingivitis - the gums become red and bleed easily. If the inflammation is allowed to develop, the tooth(s) will become loose. This is what is called periodontal disease, which is a chronic inflammatory condition in the oral cavity.

If the gum pockets are kept clean, the dog will not get gingivitis or periodontitis.

This is best done by brushing the dog's teeth every day .

It is not natural for the dog to hold it around the mouth and brush its teeth. It is therefore important that you teach it slowly and gradually

The best thing is to teach it as a daily routine, which the dog associates with something positive. You can get the dog to remind you that it is time to brush your teeth

It will typically take between 3 and 8 weeks to teach the dog to brush its teeth , depending on its temperament and previous experiences. If your dog is indecisive or temperamental, be prepared that this may challenge your patience.

It will always be individual how the dog reacts to the exercises. The instructions below are therefore only intended as guidelines, which can be adapted as you think they work best.

Veterinarian Pernille E. Hansen's

4 easy steps for good oral hygiene in dogs.

Step 1 - Choose a time and place!

Choose a time and place where you can brush the dog's teeth every day. It is important to choose a time when you have time and energy, and which is easily recognizable to the dog – e.g. after the evening walk. The place must be natural and safe for the dog. If you have a small dog, it can be advantageous to let it jump up on a chair or sofa.

Choose some treats that the dog is particularly fond of. Cheese or diced chicken can also be suitable.

Start by calling your dog to the chosen location. Reward it with praise and treats.

Repeat this daily until the dog shows up and expects a reward.
NOTE: No toothbrushing or trying to hold the dog yet. The key to success is that the dog shows up himself. Therefore, training must proceed very slowly.

Step 2 - Introduce the toothbrush!

When the dog comes on its own and expects treats, you introduce the toothbrush. This can be a special dog toothbrush or a soft baby toothbrush.

Have the dog sit or stand and let him sniff the toothbrush. Reward it for sniffing the toothbrush with praise and a treat.

This is the introduction to each exercise and each time you brush your teeth .

You now begin to hold the dog's mouth with one hand (left if you are right-handed). In the beginning, you only have to put your hand very lightly over your mouth for a short moment - 1-2 seconds. If the dog is calm, praise in a friendly voice while holding. Let go and give a treat. Let the dog sniff for brushing again - give praise and a treat and briefly hold the muzzle again. It's fine to do this a total of two to three times.

From day to day, you slowly increase the amount of time you hold your mouth, while holding a little more firmly.

This step is very important and crucial to your success. Your criterion of success is therefore that the dog allows what you do, and not how fast it moves forward.
NOTE: No looking or touching the teeth yet.

If your dog does not allow you to put your hand around its muzzle, start by simply petting it on the cheek. It is important that you yourself are very calm. Be aware of breathing calmly and having calm movements.

Step 3 - Make the dog comfortable!

When the dog is completely comfortable with you holding its head, you begin to feel and rub its teeth. Start with the canines in the upper mouth.

Gradually you touch more and more teeth while praising the dog. Do it for just a few seconds at a time. Then release and give treat. Let the dog sniff the toothbrush again and briefly touch the teeth with your finger again.

Step 4 - Connect the toothbrush with reward!

Once the dog is comfortable with you touching all the teeth and associating the toothbrush with reward, you can gently start using the brush on the teeth.

Start at the front of the mouth and move backwards.

Start again by only touching the teeth with the toothbrush for 1-2 seconds. Praise the dog if it is calm. Let go and give a treat. Let the dog sniff the toothbrush again. Good bite for this. Brush for 1-2 seconds again.

When this goes well, you can increase the time with the toothbrush in the mouth.

You must focus on cleaning the gum pockets. This means that when the dog allows it, it must be circular movements with the toothbrush in the transition between tooth and gum.

Concluding remarks

Each phase can last from a few days to several weeks, depending on the dog. If one day the dog does not come expecting the training, you may have moved too quickly. Then return to phase 1 and 2 for a few days to rebuild the dog's confidence and desire for training.

It is most important that you can brush your teeth on the outside.

It can be a cool move to practice the habit, not so much with the dog, but to a large extent also with you as the owner. Your reward for completing, so that you have a pleasant time with your dog, is that you:

  • Improves the dog's oral hygiene
  • Reduces the risk of tooth extraction
  • Avoids bad dog breath
  • Minimizes dental treatment costs

Find all equipment for maintaining good oral hygiene in dogs here


Yours sincerely

Veterinarian Pernille E. Hansen | Skovlunde Animal Hospital

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