Brushing your dog’s teeth

Yes! Home dental care is one of the best ways to help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. Start as early as possible in your canine friend’s life so he or she will become accustomed to the brushing process.

What should I use to brush my dog’s teeth?

Use a moistened dog toothbrush with soft bristles. If you do not have a specially designed pet toothbrush, you can also use a child’s toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, gauze around a finger or a cotton swab.


Do I need to use a special toothpaste to brush my dog’s teeth?

Pet toothpaste, often flavoured like poultry, malt and other dog-friendly varieties, is your best option. Never use human toothpaste, baking soda or salt. While safe for you, these cleaning agents can be harmful to your dog if swallowed.

At-home teeth cleaning tips

Keep the following tips in mind to make the process easier for you and more comfortable for your dog.

  • Use a specially designed dog toothbrush or a recommended alternative.
  • Never use human toothpaste. Instead, use pet-safe toothpaste with a flavor favourable to your dog’s taste buds.
  • Give your dog a small sample of the toothpaste to introduce the taste.
  • Lift the lip to expose the outside surfaces of your dog’s gums and teeth.
  • Brush with gentle motions to clean the teeth and gums, as you would your own.
  • Clean the outside (cheek-facing) surfaces, as most pets will not allow you to brush the inside surface of the teeth.
  • Be sure to reach the back upper molars and canines, as these teeth tend to quickly build up tartar.
  • Reward your dog with play, petting or a favorite activity to positively reinforce the brushing process.

How often should I brush my dog’s teeth at home?

Your dog’s teeth should be brushed as often as possible, ideally every day. There are numerous dental care products, pastes, solutions, brushes, chew toys and dental diets that help you provide your dog with the home dental care he deserves

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What to do when your dog gets stung by a wasp or bee

As dog owners, we all know that our pets are curious creatures, who love to run around and chase everything that moves. This usually includes insects, which in most cases will put up their own defence to protect themselves and react by giving the dog a sting. Dogs will investigate everything with their paws and noses, the two principal locations of insect stings.

Multiple bees and wasp stings can be dangerous
Most of the time, an insect sting for a dog will be just an irritating and painful sensation, but should he be stung several times, especially in the throat or mouth area can be very dangerous, and this needs an urgent trip to the Vet’s surgery.


Wasp and bee stings are poisons
Two of the most common stinging insects are wasps and bees. It isn’t the small puncture laceration that causes the pain from the sting, but the tiny amount of poison that has been injected into the wound.

BEES – This sting is barbed and will hook into the dog’s skin, however, the bee will die when it detaches the sting from its body

TREATMENT – There will usually be tenderness and mild swelling around the sting site, but you need to act fast to remove the venom sting. It’s best not to squeeze with your fingers or tweezers as this may rupture the venom sac, so instead scrape it out with the edge of a credit card. Monitor your dog and if the swelling remains, contact your Vet. He will most likely prescribe an over the counter antihistamine such as Benadryl or Piriton. You could also apply a cold compress with some bicarbonate of soda added, onto the sting location, to give some instant relief to your pet.

WASPS – With no barb, yet this sting can be even more painful. These wasps can sting several times if provoked.

TREATMENT -A wasp sting is alkaline and the best treatment you can give is to neutralise it with a diluted vinegar solution. Place an ice pack onto the affected area to soothe the skin. Try to prevent the dog from scratching or licking the sting; a good idea is to use a head cone.

More serious symptoms
Some pets may be allergic to insect stings, and if they don’t receive urgent Veterinary attention, your dog could go into anaphylactic shock. Check for vomiting within the first few minutes after being stung, and look to see if the gums have become pale. Your Vet will administer IV fluids and antihistamine injections, and with clinic, monitoring should soon be healthy enough to go home.

Maintain water and food intake
Give freshwater and maintain hydration. If your dog’s mouth has been stung, he may find it too sore to chew so offer moistened food.

Try not to curtail your pet’s curious nature, but of course, be prepared to act in the event of an insect sting.

Finchely Dog Walker

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Canine Massage – could your dog be trying to tell you they need it?

You might be surprised to know that Canine Massage is not a pampering session for your dog. The best person in the world to give your dog fuss and strokes is you! Canine Massage is a drug-free, natural and results driven therapy that can significantly improve a dog’s quality of life when performed by a skilled practitioner. This blog post aims to give you the low-down on Canine Massage and how you can spot muscular issues in your dog and seek help if you need it.


So what is massage exactly? Massage helps the body to perform at its best, by influencing every single system from nervous to digestive, as well as aiding healing and encouraging relaxation. In Greek the word ‘massō’ means ‘to handle, touch, work with the hands, to knead dough.’ With the same care and skill that a baker kneads dough to create bread, a masseuse will use their hands, fingers, elbows and forearms to work on a body, using varying amounts of pressure to feel for temperature, tension, tenderness and texture in the soft tissues. When you bash your elbow, what’s the first thing you do? Rub it hard to make you feel better of course. It is a natural instinct to rub or touch an area of pain.


The dog has around 320 bones and approximately 700 muscles which account for 45% to 50% of their bodyweight. It makes sense then that many mobility problems relate directly back to the muscles, however muscular issues and injures are often overlooked. Think about how much your dog does in a day – running, jumping, playing, sleeping, eating, perhaps some obedience, agility or canicross – everything your dog does is made possible by the muscles pulling on the bones to move and so it’s inevitable that injury or two will happen occasionally. Muscles work together with the skeleton and the joints, so muscular issues are often closely related to orthopaedic conditions like Hip Dysplasia and Arthritis, but in many circumstances medication will be suggested rather than muscular therapy. Granted, muscular issues such as strains and trigger points are mysterious little things as they can’t be found on MRI scans or X-Rays, but this makes it all the more important to seek out a professional who can not only find these issues but treat them too.


So what can you do as a responsible and loving dog owner? First and foremost you can easily become familiar with the warning signs to look out for. Your dog could be tying to tell you there is a problem without you realising it! Why not spend 5 minutes this evening with your dog to run through the following and see how many you get;


  1. Gait: is your dog often lame or moving differently to usual?
  2. Stiffness: struggling to get up and down or to move around easily? Visibly in pain?
  3. Posture: standing differently, perhaps the tail carriage is different or you’re noticing an arched or dipped back?
  4. Coat flicks: is your dog’s coat flicking up in a place it doesn’t usually?
  5. Twitching: when you stroke, groom or touch your dog, does their skin appear to twitch, particularly down their back? You might have always thought they have a tickly spot?
  6. Change in Activities of Daily Living: maybe your dog used to be able to go up and down stairs, jump on/off the sofa or in/out of the car and they can’t anymore. It may be that they have really slowed down on walks or seem old before their time?
  7. Reluctant to be stroked or groomed: is your dog running away from you or whipping their head round when you touch them in a certain place?
  8. Grumpy with other dogs: snapping or general irritability can result in a dog ‘guarding themselves’ from further muscular injury and pain but it is good to speak to a behaviorist first to rule out other issues.
  9. Performance change: agility/obedience/working dogs who are not performing as they once did, for example knocking poles?


If you recognise some of the signs in your dog, then visit the Canine Massage Guild website to find out more and visit the therapist register to find your local practitioner. All Guild members have completed two years of training as well as taking part in continuous development every year so your dog will be in the very best hands.


I see dogs of all different shapes and sizes every week and can honestly say that Canine Massage has transformed lives – not only for dogs but for their owners too! My passion in life is dogs and their wellbeing and it’s so rewarding to see happy owners who know their dogs don’t have to live in pain.


Carly Vincent is a Canine Massage Therapist and owner of Wholesome Hound Canine Massage Therapy, covering London, Surrey and Berkshire. Carly credits her much loved career to Sue and Barbara, as she discovered canine massage whilst volunteering for them many moons ago. For more information see or to contact Carly call 07919 387319 or email

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Dog bites

In the UK approximately a staggering 250,000 people each year go to an emergency department because they have been bitten by a dog.There are very likely even more unreported bites as not everyone will present at a hospital so statistics are vague in this area.Most bites are caused by the owners own dog. Boys get bitten more than girls. Children under the age of 5 are most commonly affected.

Bites are measured on a bite scale from 1 to 6.( see table below – resources Dr Ian Dunbar &  Dr Sophia Yin)
Level 1. Obnoxious or aggressive behaviour but no skin-contact by teeth.Snapping,air-biting etc
This bite does not touch the skin. It’s air biting or snapping. This bite shows that your dog has Superior bite inhibition.Often owners will say “he tried to bite me but he missed” – no he didn’t miss! This is a warning ( very likely preceded by growling and other warning signs that have been ignored by the owner.Punishing a dog for this behaviour may progress to the dog biting without any warning,

Level 2. Skin-contact by teeth but no skin-puncture.
This bite makes contact with the skin, but doesn’t break the skin. This can still really hurt and leave bruising, but no abrasions. This bite shows that your dog has fabulous bite inhibition.

Level 3 A. One to four punctures from a single bite with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth
Level 3 B. Skin punctures multiple bites with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.Multiple bites mean that the dog is reacting and not thinking ( loss of inhibition)

Level 4. VERY SERIOUS One to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.
The dog is putting great pressure into the bite. 1 to 4 puncture wounds with or without tearing, more than ½ the depth of the eye tooth. This is usually accompanied with bruising and likely to require medical attention. At this point, although the dog certainly has intent to cause harm, he/she may still be showing some bite inhibition depending on the size and strength of the dog.

Level 5.VERY SERIOUS Multiple-bite incident with at least two Level 4 bites or multiple-attack incident with at least one Level 4 bite in each.

Level 6. Victim dead.

Dog bite levels

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How to bath your dog

Before you begin bathing your dog, there are a few things you must do to prepare. Proper preparation can make the process easier for you and your dog.


Choose a Location

A bath tub is usually the easiest place to bathe your dog, though very small dogs may be bathed in a sink. If you will be using your bath at home, it might take a toll on your back and knees so consider kneeling on a cushion.

If you choose to bathe your dog outside, remember that cold water is no fun for most dogs. You may want to hook up the hot water so your dog can get a nice warm bath.

Gather Supplies

  • Soft, absorbent towels. Beach towels work well for larger dogs.
  • Shampoo — should be intended for dogs and soap-free. Products containing natural ingredients are often best
  • Have the collar on so you have something to hold on to
  • TOP TIP! Put a towel in the bottom of the bath to help stop your dog slipping and getting frightened and use LOTS of treats to  make it a really pleasurable experience.
  • Brushes and combs — choose the appropriate tool for your dog’s hair type
  • Apron and / or old clothes — you are going to get wet!
  • Some treats to give your dog as you bath him to make it a pleasanter experience.

Tip: Brush your dog out before the bath begins. Be sure to remove any tangles or matts as these are harder to deal with once your dog is wet.

1.Soak your dog from head to toe with warm water using a hand- held sprayer.

Always test the temperature on your arm before spraying your dog.Be sure to avoid the eyes and the inside of the ears.Many dogs have water resistant coats,so a thorough soaking is usually necessary to penetrate the coat.

Tip: Your dog will instinctively want to shake the water off. Keeping a hand on your dog’s head may help prevent this. Don’t wet your dog’s head till you have shampooed the rest of his body – they don’t like getting their faces wet. Avoid getting water and shampoo in his eye and ears.

  1. Apply shampoo to your dog’s coat. Avoid the eyes, face, and genital area. Use enough shampoo to create a lather. Apply small amounts of shampoo at a time to avoid using too much.

You can use a small bucket and sponge – fill the bucket up with water and add the shampoo and use a sponge to apply the diluted shampoo – it us quicker to get the shampoo distributed through the dog’s coat this way.

Tip: Mix two parts shampoo with one part water so a more liberal amount can be applied. Add the mixture to a spray bottle or large plastic cup for easier application. Remember to use caution around the face and eyes.

  1. Rub, scrub and massage your dog for several minutes. You can use your fingers, just like shampooing your own hair. Your dog will probably actually enjoy this part. Remember to clean the feet, too. Ideally, you should allow the shampoo to remain on your dog’s coat for a few minutes before rinsing. If it is a big dog by the time you get to the end you can start rinsing where you started!

Tip: You can also use a rubber tool with small nubs made especially for bathing a dog. It provides an extra massage for your dog.e.g. a Zoom groom 

  1. Apply a stream of warm water to your dog’s coat, avoiding the eyes and ears. Thoroughly rinse all shampoo out of your dog’s coat. It is very important to remove all shampoo residue from your dog.

Tip: Do not forget to rinse the feet and any skin folds or crevices on your dog.

  1. If you can get your dog out doors for a good shake – stand back and let your dog have a few good shakes.

Then, towel-dry any excess water from your dog’s coat. Lay a towel on the ground and let your dog go for it. Many dogs will instinctively rub on the towel and continue to shake off the water.

If your dog tolerates it, your may want to try blow-drying. Be sure to use a dryer with very low or no heat. Only turn it up as high as your dog tolerates, and stay away from the face, eyes and ears. Once completely dry, thoroughly brush your dog out.

Congratulations — you’re done! Give your dog a treat, and you’ll probably get a nice wet kiss in return. Your dog might be a bit tuckered out, so a nap may be warranted. Put your feet up and relax, too.

How Often to Bath a Dog
If your dog’s hair is dirty with the faeces of other animals, you should clean him immediately. But it is not necessary a complete cleansing. You can leave the mud in his hair till it dries, and then brush it out. It’s not recommendable to wash the hair frequently, because it eliminates the waterproof natural agents, and tends to tarnish the skin.

If your dog is muddy you can rinse it off with plain water and towel dry.

Over shampooing will dry out your dog’s natural oils in his coat and could cause skin irritation. Regular grooming is important – every day preferably to stop matting occurring and to check that all is well with your dog’s body – even short haired dogs.

Copyright Tip Top Dog School 2009 at


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