Good oral health is essential to your dog's long-term wellbeing. Today, our Tracy vets discuss the importance of dental care for dogs and share some of the signs that indicate your dog is due for a dental exam.
Do dogs need their teeth cleaned?
Yes! Just like people, dogs need dental cleanings. A dog's oral health is an important element of their overall health. Unfortunately, most dogs don't receive the care they need and our Tracy vets often see dogs developing periodontal disease (gum disease) by the age of three. Developing gum disease at an early age can have a negative impact on their long-term health and wellbeing.
Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases such as heart disease. There is evidence that bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the mouth and cause damage to the heart and other organs.
On top of the larger physical impacts caused by poor oral health, periodontal disease also causes pain and can result in damaged or missing teeth.
The best way to take care of your dog's teeth is to bring them to the vet annually for a professional cleaning and dental exam.
In between professional cleanings, you should provide your dog with at-home oral care and bring them to the vet if you notice any developing issues.
What are the signs of dental problems in dogs?
Our Tracy vets recommend bringing your dog in if you notice any of the following symptoms, as they could indicate periodontal disease:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding in or around the mouth
- Inflamed gums
- Pain associated with chewing
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
When should I get my dog's teeth cleaned?
Generally speaking, you should bring your dog in once a year for a dental cleaning and exam.
When you bring your dog in for a dental exam, our vets will assess your pet to ensure they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia. Dental exams can be stressful for dogs and they will often react by struggling or biting. Anesthesia allows us to take the time we need to complete a thorough exam and cleaning without causing distress to your pet.
Once your pet is safely sedated, our vets will perform a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth), clean and polish each tooth, and take X-rays of their teeth.
After your dog's dental exam is complete, we will share our results with you and let you know if there are any problems or additional measures we recommend you take to help improve your pup's oral health.
Should I brush my dog's teeth?
Yes, in between professional cleanings you should regularly brush your dog's teeth. As a pet owner, you play a pivotal role in helping your pup fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy:
- Use a finger brush from your vet or a child’s toothbrush along with specially designed pet toothpaste to brush your pet’s teeth regularly to remove any plaque or debris.
- Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums or add to their drinking water. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
- Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or special foods designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.
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.