You love your Poodle and want to ensure their basic needs are met. Despite this, even attentive pet owners sometimes disregard the impact of oral hygiene. Periodontal disease is a gum infection in canines that impacts 2/3rds of all dogs over the age of three, placing this condition as the most common ailment with canines. Periodontal disease can increase your dog’s risk of liver failure, heart disease, inflammation, and other painful conditions that spread out far beyond their gums. Ok, but how do you keep your poodle’s teeth clean?
These are five simple ways to clean your Poodle’s teeth:
- Brush Them with A Toothbrush & Doggie Toothpaste
- Integrate Dental Chews
- Use dental wipes
- Upgrade Your Poodles Food
- Invest in Periodic Professional Cleanings
You are already buying them the healthy food, giving them exercise, grooming them to avoid skin conditions, etc. – So why wouldn’t you place equal weight on the wellbeing of their mouths? Don’t beat yourself up as this isn’t exactly common knowledge, and many owners don’t know the importance of oral health. Nonetheless, as a responsible owner, you can take this opportunity to learn about this vital aspect of your Poodle’s needs.
5 Simple Ways to Clean Your Poodle’s Teeth
Poodles are considered a generally healthy and fit canine breed that does not suffer from any particular lineage defects or ancestral health risks. Regardless of their brilliant minds, playful personalities, and agile athleticism, poodles are susceptible to certain conditions just as all breeds.
When referring to poodles, there are main categories established by the AKC. The AKC’s official classifications of Poodles are:
These poodles are named in separate categories due to their size. Despite the size difference, these are still poodles, so the ailments tend to be similar (with exceptions such as hip dysplasia which is more commonly seen in larger dogs with more weight to support)
Regarding their dental health – Sadly, poodles are highly-susceptible to dental conditions.
Speaking about Miniature Poodles specifically, but related to all poodles, The Aubrey Medical Center describes this breed’s relation to dental disease:
“Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, affecting 80% of all dogs by age two. And unfortunately, your Miniature Poodle is more likely than other dogs to have problems with her teeth. In fact, your Miniature Poodle’s life span may be cut short by one to three years.”The Aubrey Medical Center
You may not think about brushing your dog’s pearly whites (or lack thereof), however, once you understand the long-term health impacts of disregarding your dog’s oral wellbeing, we can bet that you will find the time to prioritize it.
Without further ado – The main ways that you can protect your Poodle’s mouth from the nasty impacts of Periodontal Disease and related infections, are through these five simple methods for cleaning your Poodle’s teeth (and gums):
1. Brush Them with A Toothbrush & Doggie Toothpaste
The technique that tops my list as the most effective way in which to ensure your dog’s oral health – brush their teeth daily with dog-specific toothpaste.
Canines cannot digest the same ingredients as humans, and human toothpaste can be toxic, or even fatal to pets. Not only this, but your dog also does not understand the concept of gargling and spitting it back up, so much of the toothpaste could end up being swallowed.
You can purchase a dog-specific toothpaste such as these top-rated and non-toxic brands found on Amazon:
- Vibrac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs & Cats – In Beef Flavor
- Pura Natural Pet – Organic Toothpaste Eco-Friendly UDS Organic
- Arm & Hammer Dog Dental Care – Chicken Flavor with Mint Scent
Trying the beef or chicken flavors can make the experience more pleasant for your Poodle, who would not be accustomed to flavors like mint.
Note that all human toothpaste will be dangerous for all dogs, but especially toxic to smaller breeds such as the Toy Poodle or Miniature Poodle.
Many dog owners begin with a finger brush that fits like a glove on one finger, better suited to a canine’s smaller mouth than a long toothbrush. This can be a less dramatic way to introduce the idea of their teeth being brushed.
Do not attempt the finger brush technique if your dog tends to bite or clampdown that could be dangerous to you.
You can use a standard toothbrush or pet toothbrush (with fewer bristles), but with the large handle you must be more careful about not accidentally choking them. This should not be difficult unless your dog fights you, thrashes, or could hurt themselves on the large plastic handle – In this case, use the finger glove.
A few top-rated and popular products found on Amazon are:
- Perty 2 piece 3-sided Pet Toothbrush
- H&H Professional Dog Finger Toothbrush – Pack of 8
- This set which includes toothpaste, finger glove, and a dog toothbrush from Kissable for Dogs and Cats
Introduce Poodles to Brushing Gradually
With those essential logistics being said – Brushing any dog’s teeth is no small task!
Scrubbing the chompers on a large pup can be intimidating, and it will not come naturally to either of you. The key to successfully training your dog to enjoy having their teeth brushed (instead of fighting you the whole time) is to introduce the concept gradually.
Your Poodle may fight this at first, and it can be frustrating. Give this time and it can quickly become a regular part of how you two bond.
By taking gradual steps into the normalcy of what you two do together daily, it can become a fun activity where your dog feels that you are caring about their wellbeing, just as when you brush and pet them.
Note – Though it is not true in all cases, typically, it will be easier to train a puppy or younger Poodle, compared to teaching an older poodle to embrace daily teeth cleaning. This is the case with most dog breeds.
Poodles especially are highly intelligent and thrive on their routine, so if they’ve spent many years without a toothbrush, and then you attempt to force it – you will be met with immediate rejection.
Forcing it could ruin the potential ease of the brushing process for both of you, so take your time and feel out your Poodle’s natural pace of acceptance.
Notes on Brushing Your Poodle’s Teeth
Poodles are prone to many dental issues, so you must find some time for this grooming step if you own or plan to own this breed.
When brushing, you will be aiming to gently scrub away the plaque build-up that leads to these dangerous infections. If the food is too coarse, this can get stuck between teeth, and if bones are given to chew that are too thick, this can lead to fractured teeth.
Broken teeth are much less common than your main focus of fighting Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease, each existing in the gums.
Establishing an Effective Brushing Routine
Set a routine (which poodles live for!) by choosing a time in the morning or night for a dental cleaning – and then stick to it. Committing yourself will make the adjustment period much more fluid and less time-consuming. But if you cannot commit to this then do not be hard on yourself. Even once or a few times a week can be so much better than no brushing at all!
You can make the teeth grooming experience feel more like a treat by:
- Doing it right before you go for a walk or get to go outside/get treats/play (this will feel like the biggest reward for sitting in the dental chair!)
- Doing it first thing in the morning together
- Doing it anytime you can offer you devoted attention and make them feel special (basically anytime you can make them not feel like a tortured patient)
Secret Life Hack – Dogs are like children and will be more receptive to your energy surrounding a situation than the task itself. If you make it feel like Christmas morning to get your teeth brushed by this delicious beef paste – They will feel that excitement too!
Desensitize Your Poodle to Gum Touching
Before introducing water, toothpaste, or any brushing whatsoever – take about a week to desensitize your Poodle to gum touching.
This may feel like a hurdle or small speed bump in the adjustment, but we guarantee from experts that this will expedite the process in the long-run.
Your dog is not familiar or bred to have anything in their mouths except for food. In their minds, it is confusing when someone is fumbling around in their mouth. To avoid this feeling very jarring to them at first, you must get them comfortable with the idea of someone touching their gums.
Desensitization will always be most uncomplicated with a younger canine, but the key to any dogs’ heart are through treats! Positive reinforcement will be your greatest ally.
Your steps to make your dog used to someone feeling around in their mouths (while teaching them that this is safe, okay, and they do not need to bite down for their safety) will be through the following steps:
- Be seated in a very comfortable and safe place, perhaps where you cuddle on the couch or in bed.
- Give them cuddles and pets, reassuring your Poodle that they are not in trouble and that the upcoming tooth brushing is not a punishment, but that this is a safe and relaxing time.
If you can get your poodle calm and unfearful of the situation, this will be the best way to assimilate.
Touch the outside of their mouth and pull up their lips, touching around their gums and teeth (not placing your fingers where they could be bitten). If your dog is prone to biting or you just want to be careful on the first attempt – you can test them by wearing a thicker pair of gloves to protect your hands. If they respond well to the desensitization of their gums, you do not need to wear protective gloves unless you wish to.
- Touch every single tooth, even being sure to hit the back molars and around those gums.
Some recommend starting with the top row of teeth and then moving to the lower.
You can also start by brushing their teeth using your finger which can feel more like you giving them a treat, instead of incorporating a foreign object like the brush or finger glove.
Do whatever feels most natural to you and your Poodle. Read their reaction in the moment and know whether to give them a break or forge onwards.
Integrating the Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Once you have desensitized your poodle’s gums for a few days in a row, and your dog is not so weary of it, you can introduce the toothbrush or finger glove.
If these go well, you can go ahead and complete the transition. The entire process from touching their teeth to adding in the brush and paste will usually only taking a few days to one week.
Throughout the process, you will use happy tones and say things to your Poodle like, ‘good boy/girl’ to provide praise.
You will brush their teeth for about:
- 2-3 minutes if daily
- 5 minutes if weekly
-Being sure to reach their back molars and constantly assess for any:
- Black markings
- Tooth decay
- Or signs of gum disease (warning signs discussed later)
Immediately after the brushing is complete, be sure all brushes are set aside to a safe distance and then let your dog now they are free to move around again.
Give your Poodle a treat and allow them to associate the process with a positive experience.
2. Integrate Dental Chews
If your dog doesn’t take to toothbrushing, you can try something more subtle, like giving them a dentally oriented chew bone.
Many chew bones have anti-plaque properties that clean teeth as they chew. The benefits to the dental chews are:
- Strengthens gums
- Removes plaque
- Scrapes tartar
- Improves their bad breath
- They can work slowly and gradually
- Often made with protein or enzymes that support oral health
Note – Never give a dog a cooked bone of any type. These can splinter off and lead to choking, damage to intestines, and be potentially fatal.
Always select a dental bone that is:
- Made for slow chewing and not fast digestion
- Not cooked or made of real bone
Great options that are safe for your dogs are things such as:
- Bully sticks
- Chicken strips
- Cow ears
Check out this article I wrote on the best bones for poodles. In it, you’ll found the best store-bought bones, as well as which specific bones can be safely eaten by poodles.
Or non-meat products such as:
- Nylon chews
- Rubber bones
One of my favorites is a product found on Amazon called Greenie’s Original Natural Dental Dog Treats, These do a fantastic job removing Plaque and my dog loves them! Just be sure to purchase the properly-sized bone based on your Poodle’s size.
3. Use Dental Wipes
Using a similar approach to the toothbrush technique, once your dog is desensitized to you touching their mouth, you can swap for dental wipes.
You can use the wipes:
- In tandem with regular tooth brushings
- In between toothbrushing with paste (once a week or when you want less hassle)
- As a substitute if your dog never takes to the brushing sensation.
A few of the most popular brands found on Amazon are:
- MOKAI Dental Wipes for Dogs and Cats
- TropiClean Fresh Breath Dental Wipes
- GARYOB Pet Dental Finer Wipes (Finger Glove Wipes)
These wipes will not be as efficient as the toothbrush because there are no bristles to get between their teeth and remove kibbles from the hard to reach places.
But to bring home the point of brushing once a week instead of daily, using wipes is better than nothing at all!
4. Upgrade Your Poodles Food
Just as with humans, the food your dog digests will affect their overall health. Many brands are produced using large concentrations of grain and unhealthy products that are not only harmful to your canine’s digestive system but also their oral health.
Some of these brands are infamous for sticking to your dog’s teeth like peanut butter, rapidly expediting the process at which plaque and tartar can build up.
Canines require vitamins and highly-nutrient food just like people, and with a grain or filler-abundant diet – you will see this impact them through their:
- Mental clarity
- Fecal matter consistency and health
- Maturity and growth
- Physical health
- Oral health
A beneficial technique to combat this is to improve the quality of their food.
With specialized food for dental health and bad breath, as well as water additives that accomplish the same thing – There are plenty of options that can upgrade their wellness from the inside out.
You will want ingredients that are:
- Consciously sourced
- Focused on overall health with vitamins, nutrients, enzymes, proteins, no filler
5. Invest in Periodic Professional Teeth Cleanings
Even with the best daily cleaning and commitment to your at-home oral health routine – You should still invest in a few professional teeth cleanings per year. Poodle owners can do this:
- Weekly, monthly
This is up to your discretion and budget but make financial space for as often as feels reasonable. The more regular the professional cleanings are, the better.
The reason you should at least make it to an annual cleaning is because the professionals know what to look for. Sometimes it takes a keenly trained eye to notice the indications that you wouldn’t be educated to detect or correctly diagnose.
A professional is more likely than you to accurately identify the warning signs which could save your Poodle’s life.
Many of these conditions are life-threatening and must be taken seriously. If left untreated, years can be taken off of your dog’s life.
Cost of Professional Teeth Cleanings for Poodles
This will depend on the casualty of the appointment. You can have:
- A general cleaning which can be a basic fee of around $12 for Teeth, $12 for Breath
- A higher-scale cleaning that involves sedating your dog. Since tools are involved, this is the more in-depth cleaning where sedation is necessary for their safety. This technique can, of course, be done less frequently than the $12 professional cleaning, and typically costs between $100 to $300 per session. This may sound expensive, but will typically include:
- X-rays of the mouth and jaw
- An oral bacteria flush
- A probe of all dental pockets
- Tooth cleaning
- Tartar removed above and below the gum line
- Comprehensive inspection for disease
- Second flush
- Tooth polishing
- Plaque-guard (typically an additional fee)
So the price is considered quite all-encompassing and reasonable for long-term care and oral disease prevention. It is well worth the price at least once per year. Since poodles are more prone to dental disease, it is recommended to have this service done:
- Once every year from age 3-6 (as their risk goes up)
- Twice every year from age 6-10
- Three to four times a year as they become older and more at risk for heart conditions
If you are unsure about the frequency at which you should invest in professional cleanings while utilizing your at-home routine – consult your veterinarian based on your specific Poodle to receive tailored guidance to your situation.
Health Risks for a Poodle’s Oral Health
Saving the fun stuff for last, poodles are at risk for many dangerous ailments related to their oral health. We’ve touched on them in the basic sense, but to offer more detail and insight, this is what happens to your dog’s teeth without proper care:
- Plaque clings to their gums and teeth
- Enamel becomes thinned and reduced
- Within five days, plaque transitions into tartar (a worse issue)
- When this sits under your Poodle’s gum line – this leads to Gingivitis
- Poodles are commonly prone to misaligned teeth as well, caused by genetics and breeding as their adult teeth come in too early.
Often, Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease are usually related and go hand-in-hand. Your dog suffers from a more rapid onset of dental issues compared to humans due to the high-alkaline pH of their saliva, which is a breeding ground for unhealthy bacteria.
Gingivitis is a condition defined as inflammation within the gums, occurring in humans, dogs, and cats.
The warning signs of Gingivitis will be:
- Food stuck in your poodles’ mouth/between teeth
- Foul breath/bad odor
- Bacteria and a white or yellowish tongue
- Calcified plaque, a yellowish-white build-up that is visible on their teeth surrounding the gums
- Increased drooling
You will notice it quickly worsen if it is Gingivitis, because bacteria loves more bacteria and multiplies quickly. This condition will lead to:
- Pain while eating
- Oral sensitivity
- Bleeding gums
- Your Poodle lacking an appetite due to these pains and restrictions
You can treat your dog’s Gingivitis before it progresses forward into a full-blown case of Periodontal Disease. You must clean the bacteria and have a professional flushing before the harmful bacteria advances and leads to dangerous health implications in your Poodle.
Consult your veterinarian, and they can prescribe something or offer advisement if the Gingivitis has advanced too far.
If advancement is the case, your dog can suffer with the condition that is targeting 2/3rds of all dogs over the age of three. With between 70-80% of all canines suffering from Periodontal Disease, it is a silent killer.
Gingivitis, if left untreated, will become Periodontal Disease. The side effects of Periodontal Disease are:
- Bad breath
- Gum bleeding
- Swollen and tender gums
- Deep pockets between the gum and tooth/receding gumline
- Shifting teeth/alterations in the mouth’s alignment to open, close, and chew
- Tooth loss
- Tumors or cysts in the mouth
- Yellow puss emerging from teeth or gums
- Bad bacteria in the bloodstream
- Bad bacteria traveling to heart, liver, and kidneys
- Potentially death
Toy & Miniature Poodle Oral Health Risks
There are many oral health conditions that can apply to poodles and dogs in general.. However, some conditions are more common for the Toy and Miniature Poodles (and not the larger Standard Poodle) which include:
- They are known for baby teeth that emerge slower than larger dogs
- Sometimes their baby teeth and adult teeth are trying to coexist, leading to problems that larger dogs do not suffer from due to other dogs’ more massive skull that can handle the teeth
- Their mouths can become overcrowded, leading to difficulty biting and chewing
Since many toy breeds are prone to experiencing deformed tooth alignment and malocclusion issues, this can increase their risk of Periodontal Disease.
Smaller poodles are also more likely to suffer from Endodontic Disease, which impacts the alignment of the jawbone by painfully engulfing the roots of their teeth.
This is not to say that you should attempt to influence your Toy or Miniature Poodles’ teeth alignment, but only to point out that the smaller poodles may require more frequent and attentive dental care.
Final Thoughts for Poodle Dental Care
Consult your veterinarian at least twice a year and prioritize regular check-ups to ensure your dog’s overall regularity and wellbeing. If you notice any indication of the warning signs such as teeth bleeding or resistance to eating, consult your vet immediately.
Luckily – With daily cleaning and prioritization of your Poodle’s oral hygiene – you can prevent both Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease! Regular cleaning should prevent most plaque and tartar build-up, at least beyond a reasonable degree.
Make time for this quick chore, just as you would your own mouth, and you could save your Poodle’s life!