Border Collies, unfortunately, aren’t known for having the best set of teeth in the dog breed world. In this article, we delve into everything an owner needs to know about Border Collie oral health, from how to clean your Border Collies Teeth, to how to cure Border Collie bad breath.
From our own experience of getting our rescue Collie, Izzy, we know just how important regular teeth hygiene is when caring for your Border Collie. Izzy, unfortunately, wasn’t cared for in the best way, which meant that as well as being slightly underweight for her size, we also needed to have the vets do some pretty thorough teeth cleaning!
Luckily, now, we’re on top of that with her and she’s doing really well (and no more expensive extra trips to the vets!). But it just goes to show how important regular teeth cleaning and general oral health measures are!
Why oral health is important for your Border Collie
Leaving your Border Collies’ teeth and gums go uncared for can cause a whole host of issues, including gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is where there’s a buildup of plaque on the teeth. This contains lots of bacteria which can then cause a painful inflammation of the gums. Often, dogs who have this will spend excessive amounts of time rubbing their mouth against the carpet or household objects to relieve the pain. Gingivitis in dogs is quite common, and can often be seen in the following signs:
- Swollen and red gums
- Bad breath (or worse than normal doggy breath!)
- Stained and discoloured teeth
- Gums bleeding when brushed
The proper way to treat gingivitis is with a visit to the vets for a professional teeth clean. Don’t skip this part as if left unchecked gingivitis can turn into periodontitis. This is much more serious and can lead to bone infection, teeth loss and even jaw surgery.
Now, this isn’t all doom and gloom – so please don’t be scared by all of this. If you keep on top of your Border Collies’ oral health, then you are much less likely to face any of these issues.
How to clean your Border Collies’ Teeth
Cleaning your Border Collies’ teeth is as simple as, well, brushing teeth! That said, there are a few things to be aware of before you get started.
First, you need to make sure that your Border Collie is happy to have their mouth touched and fiddled with. This is most easily done by regular prodding and poking as a puppy. If you get them used to you touching and holding their paws, mouth and other sensitive areas, then you are much more likely to have a chilled pooch on your hands.
If you haven’t managed to do this, don’t worry! All you’ll need to do is build a positive association for when you start touching your Collies’ mouth. Start small at first, and put a little peanut butter or something else on your hand and let them lick it off. Do this a few times and then move to stroking their muzzle with your other hand.
After a while, your hands prodding around their face will be a very positive thing for your Collie! You can also use this technique to get your Border Collie used to having their nails cut.
Once your Collie is comfortable with that, you just need two things at your disposal:
- A doggy toothbrush
- Doggy toothpaste
When it comes to toothbrushes, we cannot recommend enough these finger brushes. They slip onto the end of a finger and make tooth brushing so much easier!
For doggy toothpaste, try to get one which is “enzymatic” (enzymes that help fight bacteria), like the one we use on our Collies. This is an ingredient that continues to clean even without brushing, which is great if your Collie gets a little bored and doesn’t want to “enjoy” a full tooth brushing experience.
When you have these two things, then all you need to do is put a small amount on your brush and go to town just as you would a human! Make sure to massage the gums as well to remove any bacteria hiding there!
Once the teeth brushing has finished, make sure that there is plenty of drinking water for them on hand (although not right away – you’ll want the toothpaste to do its magic first).
If you find that your Collie isn’t really willing to spend the time having their teeth brushed, then it may well be that they haven’t quite gotten all of their energy out. If this is the case, it may be worth doing the tooth brushing straight after a walk.
Alternatively, if you think it’s because they’re just not quite used to brushing yet, you can also apply a little toothpaste to their paws to get them to lick it off!
How often should you brush a Border Collies’ teeth?
You should aim to brush your Border Collies’ teeth as often as possible but aim to do it at least once or twice a week as a minimum. Daily brushing is obviously the best, but we appreciate that sometimes family life can get in the way of that.
To keep on top of our Collie teeth brushing routines, we use another essential routine to help remind us: feeding time. We have the teeth cleaning stuff in a little tupperware box next to the dog food, and it really does help to act as a reminder! Now, I should say that we’re not exactly perfect when it comes to daily brushing, but most weeks we manage to do at least two teeth cleans.
When do Border Collies’ lose their baby teeth?
Most Border Collies will lose their baby teeth between the ages of three months and six months. By the age of six months, all permanent teeth will have started to grow. This is also often the period when owners experience issues with puppy biting and chewing.
Most of the time, you won’t even notice that your Border Collie has lost a tooth as they will swallow it, or it will be lost during a walk as they run and fetch a ball. That said, if you do find them on the carpet, it’s worth taking a little look to check for any signs of discolouration to see whether your oral health routines are working.
Other things you can do to help your Border Collies’ oral health
In addition to brushing your Border Collies’ teeth, there are lots of other things that you can do to help their oral health and keep their gums nice and healthy.
Our personal go-to thing that we find enormously helpful are natural chew toys made from deer antlers.
These are fantastic because they last an absolute age, don’t smell as much as other animal horns, and seem to provide our Collies with hours of entertainment while helping to remove plaque and other nasties from their teeth.
Another thing that we often do with our Collies is feed them the occasional chew stick. Be careful with these, as the cheaper brands often have really unpleasant ingredients in them. If your Collie has a sensitive stomach (Mila’s is pretty sensitive) then these cheaper ones can give them the runs… trust us, it’s not pleasant! Ever since learning our lesson, we now opt for the slightly more expensive ones! Personally, our go-to brand for dental sticks right now is Lilly’s Kitchen and we just think they’re fab!
We did a bit of checking, and it looks like the Get Naked Brand in the USA is of a similar quality to Lily’s Kitchen, so may well be worth checking them out if you don’t already!
You may want to also check out our article about the advantages and disadvantages of a raw dog food diet. Feeding raw food can help to improve your Border Collie’s teeth and gums.
Obviously, when it comes to feeding extra things like chew toys, your Border Collies’ weight should be carefully monitored – we’ve got an article about that if you’re interested in calculating your Border Collies’ weight. Alternatively, you may be interested in understanding a little more about how to bath your Border Collie – we’ve got that too!