How often do you clean your dog’s teeth? Are you one of the 30% of dog owners who clean their dog’s teeth? If you aren’t then read on because this one simple action could save your dog’s life…

New research from Direct Line Pet Insurance has revealed the scale of the problem amongst dog owners in the UK with vets admitting to treating an average of 11 cases involving tooth and gum disease every week, while one in six vets the findings revealed admit to seeing 20 or more cases.

Tooth and gum disease is something which is easily preventable if owners follow simple steps including regular brushing, improving their dog’s diet and using dental specific food and chews if recommended by vets. Two thirds of vets recommend that owners clean their dog’s teeth every day. One in seven suggest cleaning a dog’s teeth twice a day, like we do our own teeth.

Despite the recommendation for regular tooth brushing less than a third of dog owners brush their dog’s teeth. Those who do, brush an average of 109 times a year, or nine times a month, with just under a third (31 per cent) brushing every couple of days.

According to vets across the UK, the most common causes of tooth and gum disease in dogs are poor diet (42 per cent) and owner’s not brushing their dog’s teeth correctly or often enough (23 per cent). This can lead to periodontal disease, a build-up of plaque which can if left untreated cause the gums to recede, bacteria to enter the bloodstream and sometimes even spread to other organs, the heart, for example.

The worst case scenarios for untreated tooth and gum disease in animals can result in tooth extractions, blood poisoning / septicaemia, tooth loss, disease in other organs and even death.

Some of the most common signs a dog may be suffering from a dental problem are:

· Blood on their toys
· Facial swelling
· Dropping food
· Favouring one side of the mouth
· Bad breath

Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line said: “We know how important it is to clean our own teeth, yet many of us do not consider how important it is to clean our dog’s teeth. There are many dental products on the market including chews, toys, treats and even specific food, but none of these should be used as a substitute for cleaning your dog’s teeth. If you’re unsure how to do it and want to be shown how, or are concerned your dog is suffering a dental health issue then take your pet to see the vet.”

The pet insurer recommends these simple steps to make your dog comfortable having his teeth cleaned:

· Start by getting your dog used to having your fingers around its mouth by gently pulling gums back and massaging them
· Use a finger brush to get your dog used to having something touching its teeth and gums
· Once your dog is used to the finger brush, move on to using toothpaste and a doggy toothbrush. Only dog-friendly toothpaste should be used as it does not contain fluoride which is dangerous to dogs
· Always use positive reinforcement with treats and praise so your dog ends up enjoying having its teeth cleaned

Direct Line Pet Insurance’s Advanced policy now includes up to £1,000 towards dental disease and illness treatment costs as standard – find out more here:

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