Tooth decay and gum disease are just as much issues for dogs as they are for people. Because of this, caring for your dog's teeth is an important element of caring for your dog's overall health. Here, our Apple Valley vets share some advice on how to maintain your dog's oral health, both professionally and at home.
Is dog dental care really necessary?
Just like your own oral health, your pup's dental health is key to their overall wellbeing. Our canine companions will often start showing signs of periodontal disease by the time reach age 3. The early start to their oral health issues can have serious consequences for their long-term health.
Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease in humans and this appears to hold true for our canine companions as well.
The link between gum and heart disease in dogs is attributed to bacteria entering the bloodstream from your pup's mouth, damaging their heart's function and causing issues in other organs. These health problems are also on top of the already-exitsing discomfort and pain caused by missing and damaged teeth or eroded gums.
At-home oral health care routines paired with dental treats can go a long way to helping your pooch keep their teeth clean and control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to ensure that your pup’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to take your dog to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning.
Neglecting annual professional cleaning could put your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay and tooth loss.
What will happen during my dog's dental care appointment?
In order to help prevent your pup from developing gum disease and tooth decay, our Apple Valley veterinarians advise that our clients bring their dogs in for dental appointments at least once every year, and more often if their canine companion is susceptible to recurring dental issues.
When you bring your dog to Apple Valley Animal Hospital for a dental checkup our vets will perform a full oral examination for your pooch and check for signs of dental issues, such as:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Loose or
- Discolored teeth
- Broken teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Bad breath
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
If you detect symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (which can be an indication of tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath or other symptoms be sure to contact your vet right away to schedule a dental appointment for your pet. Oral health issues can become severe if left untreated and cause your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Our vets assess all pets to make sure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and will conduct any additional diagnostics if they are required to ensure that your pet's dental exam is safe. After your pet is safely sedated, we'll perform a complete tooth-by-tooth exam as well as charting—just like at your own dental exam.
While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, we will thoroughly clean and polish your pup's teeth, both above and below the gum line. We probe and x-ray the teeth, then to help protect against future decay and damage we use a fluoride treatment before applying a dental sealant to prevent plaque buildup.
If your pooch is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help restore your dog's mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.
Should I brush my dog's teeth?
As a pet parent, you play a key role in helping your dog to fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that your can help to keep your dog's mouth healthy and clean.
- Use a finger brush from your vet, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris. It's a simple as brushing your own teeth. If your dog resists having their teeth cleaned try some doggie toothpaste in flavors your pooch will find irresistible. These special toothpastes can turn a chore into a treat.
- Use a plaque prevention product, which your vet will be able to recommend to you, that you can apply to your pup's gums and teeth. These products act as a barrier to stop buildup.
- Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.
Dental care is an important part of your pet's overall health. Be sure to book your pet's annual dental appointment today, your dog will thank you.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.