Dental care is important for a dog's overall health, but most pups don't receive the oral health care they need. Today, our West Chester vets explain the importance of cleaning your dog's teeth and why professional dental care should be a part of your dog's annual preventive healthcare.
Dog Dental Care
Your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall health and wellbeing. Our canine companions often begin showing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach about 3 years of age. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.
Just like in humans, studies have shown a clear link between periodontal disease and heart disease in dogs.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is believed to be due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth and damaging heart function. It can also cause issues with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
A good oral health care routine at home paired with dental treats, and professional dental cleanings can go a long way towards controlling the buildup of plaque and tartar and preventing tooth decay.
Neglecting annual professional cleaning could put your pup 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 cleaning appointment?
It is recommended that you bring your dog in for a professional dental cleaning at least once a year to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Dogs that suffer from severe or reoccurring dental problems should visit more often.
To ensure the safety of both the vet and your pup during a dental exam, your dog will be sedated for the duration of the examination. Your vet will ensure they are in good health before administering anesthesia and monitor your dog throughout.
Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, complete with a tooth cleaning, polishing, and dental X-rays. Our vets will look for symptoms of oral health issues such as:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Broken teeth
- Bad breath
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.
How long does it take for a dog to recover from teeth cleaning?
All dogs are different but you can expect your pooch to begin recovering from the anesthetic within a few hours, although in some cases it can take 24-48 hours to fully recover. During this time, your dog may seem drowsy and have a reduced appetite.
Should I brush my dog's teeth at home?
Pet owners often ask us how to clean their dog's mouth. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's mouth healthy:
- 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. If possible, it is best to do this from the time your dog is a puppy to get them used to it. If your dog resists having their teeth cleaned, there is toothpaste for dogs that comes in flavors like chicken or beef that may make the process easier.
- Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque 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.