At Wilko we take the health and well being of pets seriously. Good oral care is essential to help protect your pooch and maintain their good health. We asked the experts at Pedigree* for their advice on keeping your dog’s gums and teeth healthy.

Did you know?

Dental care is the number 1 reason a dog owner will take their dog to a vet when they are ill.

Gum Disease – the problem

Gum disease (periodontal disease) is the most frequently occurring clinical condition in adult dogs. The disease begins when bacteria stick to the surface of the dog’s teeth. The bacteria on the teeth form an off white, sticky layer called dental plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed it hardens to form tartar (a brown, rough deposit on the teeth) within days.

The bacteria within plaque and tartar attack the gums and cause inflammation of the gum tissue. The inflammation and damage to the gum tissue and eventually other structures that support the teeth (such as ligaments and bone) can lead to the eventual loss of teeth.

Did you know?

4 out of 5 dogs over the age of three are suffering from gum disease.

happy alert dog

Spotting the signs

• Red swollen gums (gingivitis)
• Gums prone to bleeding
• Plaque & calculus build-up
• Halitosis

Bad breath

Bad breath in dogs is not normal and is almost always a sign of underlying gum disease.

Bleeding gums

Bleeding or inflamed (red or swollen) gums are a major sign of gum disease.


A dog which becomes less lively, less sociable or less willing to play is usually thought to be due to “just getting old” when actually it is the result of the effects of gum disease. These changes in general behaviour can be subtle and increase gradually over a prolonged time which adds to the confusion. It is frequently noticed that a pet acts as if it is years younger shortly after having dental treatment. Your dog may also be reluctant to have his head or face touched. This can be a sign that there are sore teeth or gums.

Left untreated this can lead to:
• Tooth loss
• Extreme discomfort and pain
• Systemic infection of other organs (e.g. heart and kidneys)

Top Tips

Brushing your dogs teeth regularly is a great way to keep their gums and teeth healthier and fight gum disease. Introducing tooth brushing gradually, means that they will learn to enjoy the experience.

What you will need:

• A tooth brush with medium bristles and the correct size
– Medium and large dogs- adult ( people) size
– Small dogs- child’s size brush
– Toy sized or miniature dogs- small, special pet tooth brush

• Pet toothpaste ( do not use human toothpaste)

• A quiet place without distractions

• A little time and patience

A few important tips before you get started:

• Keep each session short – from a few seconds to a maximum of a couple of minutes

• Pick a time which suits your daily routine and try to keep it as your usual time to brush. It doesn’t matter when in the day you do the brushing.

• Repeat each stage daily until your dog is comfortable with it and then for a few more days beyond. Then you can move on to the next stage. You may do the established stage first and then continue into the new stage.

• Every dog is different – so train at a pace which suits your dog. You can always go back a stage.

• Give lots of praise and a reward but only for good behaviour

Safety first

Always remember to take care when putting your fingers into your dogs mouth, especially if your dog is likely to bite or become aggressive.

smiley dog and friend

Step by step guide

Step 1

Introducing the pet toothpaste…
• Smear a small amount of toothpaste on your finger tip.
• Allow your dog to lick the toothpaste. He should like the taste and be keen to eat it.

Step 2

Getting used to something in his mouth…
• Place some toothpaste on your finger tip.
• With your other hand gently hold his muzzle to keep the mouth mostly closed.
• Insert your finger under the top lip on the side of the face.
• Rub your finger tip on the teeth.
• Don’t allow the mouth to open or you may get your finger chewed.
• Slide your finger further back inside the cheeks (Do not do this if there is any risk that you could be bitten).

Step 3

Introducing the toothbrush – canine teeth to begin with…
• Wet the toothbrush with water and add some toothpaste then push it down into the bristles.
• Hold his muzzle to keep the mouth gently closed. This is to stop chewing when the brush is introduced.
• Lift the top lip on one side of the mouth (with a finger tip or thumb of the hand holding the muzzle gently brush the canine teeth – these are the longest teeth.
• Change your hold on the muzzle to lift the lip on the other side, then brush the canine teeth on this side.

Tip: Do not start with the incisor teeth at the front of the mouth as this is amore sensitive area of the mouth.

Step 4

Brushing the teeth further back…
• After brushing the canine teeth, continue on to brush the teeth further back in the mouth.
• To get to the molar teeth you will need to slip the brush past the corner of the lips inside the cheeks.

Tip: Try a smaller brush if you struggle to get inside the cheek.

• Brush the upper teeth first and then allow the mouth to open slightly to be able to brush just along the gum line of the lower teeth.
• Remember; increase the brushing gradually and stop if your dog is reacting more than a little bit.

Step 5

Brushing all the teeth…
• Brush the canine and back teeth on both sides (as before).
• Now lift the top lip at the front of the mouth (still holding the mouth closed) and brush the incisors.
• You are now brushing the outside of all the teeth. You may want to brush for a little longer to do a more thorough cleaning.
• For the best results brushing should be at least once a day.

puppy with toy

Always here to lend a hand

At Wilko we stock a great range of treats and essentials which can help keep your pooch’s teeth and gums in tip top condition.

Check out our designated dog section for everything you (and your dog) need:

We love:
Pedigree Dentastix, daily oral care – Was £7.25, now £5.50
Wilko dental chewy sticks – 90p
Wilko dental minty sticks – £1.25
Pedigree Dentaflex£1.50
Beaphar tooth brush and tooth paste set – £5.99

*Expert information on dog oral care courtesy of WALTHAM, a leading authority on pet care and nutrition.

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