Dental Care for Dogs: How to Take Care of Your Dog's Teeth

Similar to people, our dogs can suffer the effects of tooth decay and gum disease. That’s why caring for your dog’s teeth is a critical element of your pooch’s overall health. In this post, our Tracy vets share some tips for keeping your pup’s teeth clean and their mouth healthy. 

Is dog dental care necessary?

Similar to our own oral health, our dogs’ oral health is vital to their overall health. Did you know that most dogs start showing signs of gum disease (periodontal disease) by the time they are about three years old? Early onset of dental disease can have some serious negative consequences for their general physical health and well-being.

In studies of people, a link between periodontal disease and heart disease has been discovered and this seems to hold true for our four-legged canine friends as well.

In dogs, periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease due to bacteria getting into the bloodstream from the mouth. This can not only damage the heart but also cause issues with other organs. These issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by damaged or missing teeth and eroded gums.

You and your vet can take a team approach to maintaining your dog’s oral health. A consistent and effective at-home oral health care routine that includes dental treats can help keep your pooch’s teeth clean, and control plaque and tartar buildup. That said, the best way to make sure your dog’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to schedule annual dental exams and cleanings at your vet’s office.

Skipping this professional cleaning may put your dog at risk for bad breath, gingivitis, periodontal disease and in more severe cases tooth decay, pain and even tooth loss.

What will happen during my dog’s dental care appointment?

Our vets in Tracy can help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. We recommend scheduling an annual dental appointment for your dog. They may need to see your pet more frequently if they are experiencing recurring or more severe dental issues.

When you bring your dog to Paws and Claws, for a dental checkup, our vets will perform a complete oral examination for your pooch and look for signs of dental problems such as:

  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Extra or retained baby teeth
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
  • Bleeding around the mouth

If you detect symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (which could indicate 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 ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while sedated is safe for your pet. Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).

While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, our team 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 pup 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 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 to brush your pet’s teeth daily 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. 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.

Paws & Claws Veterinary Hospital's veterinary professionals are dedicated to offering you and your pet the finest care in veterinary medicine. Contact us today to learn more about the qualifications of our vets, and the specialists we work with.