How to Clean Your Sheltie's Teeth

Dog owners often overlook the importance of dental hygiene. It's sadly all too common for dogs to suffer from rotten teeth and infections before owners even realize they were supposed to provide proper dental care.

Don't wait until it gets this bad—clean your Sheltie's teeth from a young age and protect her from a lifetime of dental pain and disease. Even if your Sheltie is an adult, it's extremely valuable to have a dental hygiene routine as she ages.

The 4 Stages of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Failing to clean your Sheltie's teeth will send her down the predictable road of tooth decay and periodontal disease. This involves progressive damage to your dog's teeth and gums, chronic pain leading to suffering and behavioral problems, and tooth loss. Here's how periodontal disease develops in dogs:

Clean your Sheltie's teeth to prevent periodontal disease
  • Stage 0: Plaque. Glycoproteins in your Sheltie's saliva stick to the teeth, creating the soft plaque that collects on a daily basis. Bacteria colonize these glycoproteins and release acidic by-products, which then attack the protective mucosal lining of your dog's gums.
  • Stage 1: Gingivitis. The soft plaque hardens into yellow-brown tartar, while bacteria leak into the gums, infecting the tissue and creating inflammation. Acids and toxins from the bacteria, plus enzymes from dead white blood cells, further damage the delicate gum tissue, creating pain and redness.
  • Stage 2: Early Periodontitis. Both the gums and ligaments that hold your dog's teeth in place are now affected. Her teeth are no longer secure in the socket, with up to 25% of tooth attachment lost. Demineralization of the bone reduces bone density and further reduces support for the teeth.
  • Stage 3: Moderate Periodontitis. All of the soft and hard structures around the teeth are now infected and damaged. The dog has lost between 25% and 50% of tooth attachment, while showing extensive tartar. Treatment involves tooth extraction and root planing under general anesthesia.
  • Stage 4: Advanced Periodontitis. Severe bone loss leads to significant pain, bleeding gums, tooth loss, and potentially severe infections. In the final stage, there is more than 50% loss of tooth attachment. Now deep in the tissues and bone, bacteria can spread to other parts of the body and create chronic inflammation.

4 Steps to Cleaning Your Sheltie's Teeth

As you can see, neglecting your dog's teeth is serious business, leading to chronic pain, loss of teeth, potential complications, and expensive vet bills. That's why we strongly recommend taking care of your Sheltie's teeth with these simple preventative steps.

Step 1: Brush Your Sheltie's Teeth

Dog owners are slowly catching on to the fact that, just like human teeth, dog's teeth also need brushing. Get to work daily with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste like Vet's Best Dog Toothbrush and Enzymatic Toothpaste Set.

Brush your Sheltie's teeth with an enzymatic toothpaste

Brush your Sheltie's teeth with an enzymatic toothpaste.

Notice how the brush head is smaller than a human toothbrush, so you can more easily work your little Sheltie's teeth and gums. And the toothpaste comes in dog-friendly flavors rather than the traditional human-friendly freshmint.

Brush your Sheltie's teeth for brief periods initially. She will likely resist at first because she's not used to being poked and probed with a toothbrush. However, just like leashwalking, nail clipping, and other essential habits, she'll eventually adapt to having her teeth brushed.

Aim to do this once per day, waiting at least 30 minutes after her evening meal. Brushing your Sheltie's teeth is, at least initially, the hardest step in this whole article and requires your perseverance. If you need a reminder of why you're doing this, go back and read about those stages of periodontal disease in dogs.

Step 2: Give Your Sheltie a Water Additive

Between brushing, boost your dog's oral hygiene with a natural water additive like TropiClean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover.

This odorless and tasteless liquid breaks down the biofilm in your Sheltie's mouth to reduce plaque, tartar, and bad breath. By adding it to your dog's water bowl, she'll get regular doses daily, which remain in the saliva for hours.

Add a plaque remover to your Sheltie's drinking water

Add a plaque remover to your Sheltie's drinking water.

Step 3: Offer Your Sheltie Dental Chews

Dental chews mechanically loosen the plaque and tartar that coat your Sheltie's teeth. The shape is designed to rub against the angular surfaces of your dog's teeth to dislodge debris. Dental chews also contain ingredients to freshen the breath, while the act of chewing stimulates saliva which boosts oral health.

Offer your Sheltie chicken-flavored Pedigree Dentastix daily. The linked option is specifically designed for small to medium dogs weighing between 15 and 40 lbs.

Dog dental chews help to clean your Sheltie's teeth

Dog dental chews help to clean your Sheltie's teeth with mechanical action.

Step 4: Consider Professional Teeth Cleaning

At your dog's annual vet check, your vet will advise if your Sheltie needs her teeth cleaned under a general anesthetic. Don't be alarmed if this is the case; having your vet deep clean your dog's teeth is a valuable measure to prevent the development of periodontal disease.

While your Sheltie is asleep, your vet will use professional dentistry tools to remove hardened tartar, treat any cavities or tooth decay, and if necessary, extract any teeth that are damaged beyond repair. They can also take x-rays to check for bone density loss associated with advancing periodontal disease.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your Sheltie's teeth is an essential element of their overall health and wellbeing. Burying the issue can lead to serious problems, not only with your dog's teeth, but with wider systemic illness and infection.

Fortunately, with the four steps outlined above, you can keep your Sheltie's teeth clean and healthy at minimal cost and with no pain to your dog. Daily teeth brushing, water additives, dental chews, and professional cleaning when necessary will make a huge difference to her oral hygiene and, as a result, her overall quality of life.

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Rebecca Casale, Creator of Sheltie Planet

Rebecca Casale is the founder of Sheltie Planet and Science Me. Meet her famous Shetland Sheepdogs Howard and Piper and download Shelties: The Complete Pet Owner's Guide.