February is the month of the teeth, and not without reason. Many dogs and cats have, often without their owners knowing, dental problems due to plaque and tartar formation. This causes a lot of hidden pain. In order to be able to see and take good care of your dog's teeth, it is important that you know how to do a mouth-check.
Prins helps with a handy manual with words and pictures! For cats we have separate tips. Many dogs struggle quite a bit when it comes to looking in their mouths. This is often because owners start grabbing too quickly or, even worse, we only touch our dog's head when there are problems. Be ahead of that moment and make the ‘mouth-check’ a fun exercise.
Step 1: Before we look in the mouth, we first teach our dog to rest his chin on our flat hand on his own ‘terms’. Hold up your hand and invite your dog to rest his head on it. If necessary, you can slide your hand slightly under his chin. Reward him if he lets his chin rest on your hand. Slowly build up the time that your dog leaves his head on your hand by postponing the reward a little longer. Only if your dog lets his head rest a few seconds quietly on your palm of the hand, you can go through with the next step.
Step 2: Between the lower jaws of a dog runs a 'groove', in which you can put your fingers. Keep your index- and middle finger in the 'groove' and see if your dog wants to rest his head on your fingers. If this succeeds, you can try to move your dog's head back and forth a bit with the help of those two fingers. Check if, while your dog's head remains relaxed on your two fingers, you can touch his head, the back of the nose and the sides of his snout with light strokes with a few fingers of your free hand.
Step 3: Now let your dog rest with his head on the two fingers of your one hand, which you keep in the 'groove'. With the thumb and index finger of your other hand you make a 'grab', which you first hold above and then over his nose. You store the other fingers by folding them against the palm of your hand. Practice making this 'grab' without touching your dog a few times first. These exercises are all about tranquility and trust! If your dog resists or retreats, you might have gone too fast in building up the training.
Step 4: Now we gently lift the upper lip of your dog, just behind the nose cap, on both sides, using the 'grab' placed over the back of the nose. You can use the thumb of your other hand, to gently pull the lower lip down a little at the front. At this point you can take a good look at the upper- and lower front teeth and the canines of your dog. Do not squeeze with the 'grab', only gently pull the upper lip up a little! A dog’s nose is very sensitive.
Step 5: That's not how it should be, compare this picture with the previous one. The remaining fingers of the hand that forms the 'grab' are not stored here, so the dog's eyes are covered and he can no longer see what is happening around him. In addition, the fingers of the other hand now clasp all the way around the lower jaw, allowing you to pierce the gums with your nails. That’s an unpleasant feeling for a dog!
Step 6: By twisting your dog's head slightly with the supporting hand and moving the 'grab' of the other hand a little, you can see the sides of the teeth and the molars. The thumb of the supporting hand can pull the corner of the mouth slightly backwards, so that all teeth are clearly visible. The fingers remain on the outside of the lips and do not get into your dog's mouth. If all goes according to plan, your fingers shouldn’t get wet!
Step 7: This is not the intention: the fingers are on the inside of the lips and puncture the mouth, the lips are pushed against the molars, which hurts the dog. Besides, the dog's eyes are covered again, which gives the dog an unsafe feeling, and the upper and lower jaws are clamped together.
Step 8: If your dog shows his teeth quietly, you can make a careful start with the dental care, where we will touch our dog’s teeth. For example with a special finger toothbrush. Dogs often find brushing with a finger toothbrush more pleasant than using a normal toothbrush. Dental care products are available in pet shops. Your veterinarian can check your dog's teeth and give you a brushing advice. Always introduce your dog to the toothbrush without immediately putting anything in his mouth, for example by first letting your dog smell the brush.
Step 9: Brushing with a special dog toothbrush is also an option. To get your dog used to the feeling of the brush in his mouth, you can put tasty spread on the brush in the beginning, or a little Prins Train & Care reward cream. Mmm... that makes brushing fun and tasty! Tip: pair a command, for example the word 'teeth', to show and take care of the teeth. This makes it predictable for your dog what is going to happen.
Step 10: Especially brush the outside of the teeth in the upper jaw, and the posterior molars. This is where plaque and tartar form most quickly. On the inside, teeth are often brushed by the tongue. Always use a special dog toothpaste! Toothpaste for humans contains unsuitable ingredients.
Do you have a question about the health of your pet? We like to sink our teeth into it! Our CareTeam is there for you with advice and guidance.