Taking care of your dog’s dental care is an important responsibility for a pet owner. As a pet owner myself, I found it extremely informative to learn that dogs need dental care for the same reasons we do – to avoid any kind of periodontal disease. Although you won’t be lifting your dog to the bathroom sink every day, there are some simple methods and useful tips for you to keep in mind, for your friend’s choppers!
Do dog’s need dental care?
Definitely. After the what looks like a harmless meal, there are many processes that can begin to take place in your dog’s mouth. Plaque, which is a mixture of saliva, sloughed mouth cells, food particles, anything else they may have chewed on, can all combine together around their teeth.
If this Plaque is left untreated, it can go prove to be quite harmful for the dog –
- Leading to gum inflammation causing tissue decay
- Gum inflammation could lead to destroy bone
- Ultimately leading to tooth loss, the worst outcome to periodontal disease
As dog’s are extremely active with their mouth, periodontal disease is quite common, in fact 80% of all dogs over 3 years old have some kind of periodontal disease. So, the question you must answer, is what is the current condition of your dog’s teeth.
It is important you answer this question by paying close attention to your pet. You may not be getting much help from them, as dogs instinctually do not show any sign of weakness. They may be in great pain, either through broken or fractured teeth, bleeding gums or abscessed teeth but may still eat just fine.
Teeth cleaning – At the Vet
A teeth cleaning procedure at the vet would require your dog to be under anesthesia. This is to avoid your dog from being too afraid, and shaking while the vet using their surgical tools to carry out the cleaning. Before such a process, your vet will require to run some blood tests in deciding the appropriate cleaning procedure and anesthesia dose that would be administered.
After your dog is comfortably snoozing under the anesthesia, the vet will conduct the dental procedure, which largely resembles that of a human’s –
- Consult dental X-rays to work on the concerned area
- Using dental instruments, remove plaque/tartar
- Polish the teeth clean to look shiny and white
- Kept for post procedure until they are fully awake
You may have seen several viral videos of people singing, being funny after their anesthesia from a dental process, especially when getting their wisdom tooth removed. Dog’s do not really show the same effect, but they can be a little sleepy for a few hours after leaving the hospital. If they don’t return to their normal activity by the end of the day, its best you contact your vet!
Anesthesia concerns and alternate non-anesthetic treatments
I understand that I can be a difficult decision for you to go give the go ahead for a teeth procedure involving anesthesia for the dog. But you really shouldn’t worry - the veterinarian sciences have come a long way in making safer medicines, especially in anesthesia for dogs.
There are other alternative businesses out there that claim to do the same cleaning procedures with anesthesia, but that is something to be wary of. The bulk of an oral exam, requires your dog to be under anesthesia to examine and treat what is under the gumline to address the root of their dental problem.
A non-anesthetic procedure will only be able to remove the calculus above the gum line – which by itself doesn’t really cause any problem to your pet. The places that offer this kind of services usually do not need any trained staff, anesthetic drug and equipment, or any educational certification. They are merely profit based businesses relying on overly concerned dog owners.
Its not that you shouldn’t be concerned about anesthesia, but when it is administered correctly the risk is almost always very low. You can have a conversation with your vet before the procedure, to know more about how they monitor anesthetic patients and what their safety record is – to qualm any of your own concerns.
Teeth cleaning - At Home
The more you take care of your dog’s teeth, the less your vet would have to do in the clinic. The more you slacken with your dog’s teeth, the more the vet would have to involve in the clinic. Here are some simple, at home, ways you can keep friend’s teeth healthy:
Depending on your dog, brushing your dog’s teeth is going to become smooth experience over time. You need to have patience and perseverance, until your dog becomes comfortable enough with the brushing sensation they would feel, and allowing you to handle their mouth and face for a continues stretch of time.
You can start by cleaning their teeth in small circular motions. Picking one are of their mouth, gently lift their lip to clean the outside teeth and gumline. Similar to brushing your own teeth, you can use small circular motions that is quick and smooth. Allow for enough rest time, five to ten seconds, between cleaning each tooth and give your pet a low of positive reinforcement like petting. The more cheerful and playful you are, the less anxious, and more comfortable they will be in cooperating with you.
A few things to keep in mind when purchasing their teeth brushing kit –
- Choose a pet toothbrush or human tooth brush with soft bristles
- Small-headed toothbrush allow for easy movement around the mouth
- Human toothpaste may contain harmful ingredients for a dog, canine toothpastes are available
Dental water additive
There are plenty of dental care products that can be added to their drinking water, available at most pet stores. There products are usually tasteless and odorless, so don’t interfere with the dog’s usual water drinking habit.
Its best to run the product by your vet before using - just to ensure your specific dog doesn’t have any issue with it.
Dental chews and toys
Most chews help in removing the plaque from your dog’s teeth. You can inspect the back of the package of these chews/toys before purchasing them – it would be best avoiding ones with a lot of artificial color or ingredients.
There are many choices that could be a potential choking hazard or lead to fractured teeth. The ideal ones are slightly bendable to prevent any teeth damage. Regardless of what you give them, your pet should be supervised so the smaller swallowable pieces can be taken away.
Here is a small list of available chews you can avoid:
- Cow hooves
- Plastic bones
- Real Bones
You avoid commercial dog foods that are rich in starch, they are not only bad for the dog’s teeth, but also their stomach!
Raw crunchy food can be given, live raw carrots, green beans, and celery. Not all dog’s are excited by such foods, and may require you to coax and play with them, for them to have it. Also, ensure that these treats are provided unseasoned.
If you’re having any concerns with your dog’s teeth, do not hesitate in reaching out to your vet. The earlier we treat them, the safer they will be. I am sure you will build a fun and joyful bond with your dog brushing their teeth everyday – just do your best in making sure it’s an enjoyable experience.
Hope you found this article useful in addressing your dog’s teeth needs. Please feel free to leave a comment below.