Many people think that having your dog’s teeth cleaned is just about cosmetics, but by keeping your dog’s mouth healthy may help with the doggy breath BUT it can also add two years to your dog’s life as well as improve the quality of his/her life. Poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease and a number of other health concerns. Here are Fraser Valley Animal Hospital’s five steps to keeping your dog’s mouth healthy and disease free!
Every once in a while, take notice of your dog’s breath. We realize it’s not going to smell wonderful, but if your dog’s breath seems to have a truly offensive odor, something could be amiss. When the bad bacteria start to take over in the mouth that dog breath does tend to become rancid! Call your vet if you think your dog’s breath warrants another sniff.
A balanced diet is key to maintaining good dental health. There are now great treats and diets that not only nourish your dog’s body but will also help keep his/her mouth healthy. Our recommendations for a healthy dental diet include, Hills T/D or Royal Canin Dental. Another great source to look for products that actually help the mouth is to look at the VOHC web page. http://www.vohc.org/history.htm This is a group of veterinary dentist who have reviewed studies and will inform which products actually helps the teeth.
Good chew toys can help scrape loose tartar off of teeth and strengthen your dog’s teeth and gums by giving them something to work on. We do not recommend bones to chew on as we have seen many fractured teeth after a dog was given a bone. In fact veterinary dentist recommend that all chew toys have a little give to them to prevent fracturing teeth.
The number one way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy is to brush those pearly whites every day. Never use toothpaste made for human rather use a dog-formulated toothpaste. Get your dog used to the idea of having his teeth cleaned by starting slowly. Take your toothbrush and gently touch one tooth, reward your dog and then you are done for the day. Do this everyday until your dog is comfortable and only then move on to brushing 2 teeth. Some dogs can go from tooth number one to the entire mouth in a week where as other dogs will take 6 weeks to be comfortable. Couple of other tricks – Do NOT open the mouth rather just lift the lips and just worry about the “lip side” of the teeth. Check out our video on how to train your dog to have his teeth brushed.
Ah but your groomer does a dental cleaning every time you take Fido in for her hair cut, or perhaps you take your dog to have anesthetic free cleaning and WHY go to your vet when they charge $300 and the groomer charges $30?
Well the heart of the answer to that question is what each profession means by dental cleaning. At the Fraser Valley Animal Hospital all dental cleanings require anesthetic as we believe it is important to asses each and every tooth visually by probing around the tooth to check for gingival pockets, using a hand scaler to check for areas of rough tartar under the gum line and to take radiographs to look for hidden disease and sources of pain which is not visible to the naked eye. Making the teeth pretty is not our objective but rather making the mouth healthy is. Since no dog would ever allow a person scale below the gum line, to probe the gingiva to look for pockets or sit still while a dental film is placed inside the mouth anesthetic is requires and this critical step is a big part of the difference in cost. I have had many mouths that look healthy actually have a lot of disease below the gum line – abscesses – fractured roots – resorptive lesions; the owners were not aware, the groomer did not know but through radiographs and a detailed exam painful problems were discovered and treated.
Proper oral hygiene is an investment in your dog’s health, comfort, quality of life and longevity. There is no quick fix and no substitute for high quality care provided by a loving and well educated veterinary staff team. This does not mean that your groomer cannot brush Fido’s teeth as well, just know the difference between a brushing and a profession dental exam and cleaning.
Still not sure what your veterinarian does? I encourage you to call your veterinarian and ask to see what is involved with cleaning you pet’s teeth. We are happy to show any clients step-by-step process of what is involved in our professional exam and cleanings.