Our canine pals can suffer from the same dental issues that humans do, although by far the most common is gum disease. Gum disease occurs when plaque that forms onto the teeth spreads onto the gum tissue and causes irritation, infection and a range of unpleasant symptoms. Left untreated, severe dental pain, abscesses and tooth loss are inevitable.
One of the best ways to protect your dog’s long-term dental and oral health and to preserve their teeth is to regularly clean their teeth, both at home and by taking your dog for professional dental cleaning. This is very similar to at-home cleaning, but normally performed under general anesthetic which enables your veterinary dentist to access all areas of your dog’s mouth with professional tools, optimizing the effectiveness of the clean without causing your furbaby any discomfort or distress.
Most veterinary dentists recommend that all dogs have at least one professional dental clean every year. However, every canine companion is different, and it is always best to follow the specific recommendation of your vet, and to bear in mind that the frequency of these recommended visits may vary depending on your dog’s dental health.
When it comes to brushing your dog’s teeth at home, ideally the more often your furbaby can tolerate a cleaning, the better. This is because plaque continually forms on their teeth and gums unless it is brushed away, just like it does in humans. It’s this build-up of plaque that is responsible for your pet developing gum disease. Nevertheless, we understand that brushing your dog’s teeth every day isn’t practical or reasonable, and for this reason, we suggest that you aim for a decent clean of all teeth at least once per week. However, you may need to break this down into shorter sessions that your dog can tolerate more easily.
Start brushing as early as possible. Introducing tooth brushing to a puppy is the easiest way to teach your dog to tolerate the process – something which will be invaluable as they get older and dental problems become more likely.
Always use a toothpaste that has been approved for veterinary use. Human and even baby toothpastes contain ingredients that can be highly toxic to your pet and could make them very sick. There are plenty of veterinary varieties available, usually in flavors like chicken and beef that your furbaby will love!
You can use a normal toothbrush or one designed with canines in mind, it really doesn’t matter. Make sure you replace them when they start to appear chewed or damaged – which is usually every few months if you clean your dog’s teeth regularly.
Only ever brush the outer faces of your dog’s teeth. It’s almost impossible to get to the inside faces, and your dog will struggle to tolerate this too.
Know when to stop. If your dog is getting restless and seems irritable, stop brushing and try another day.
Offer your dog dental chews regularly. These are usually quite abrasive so have a cleaning action when your dog eats them, and this can help to remove plaque build-up from their teeth and gums. They also contain ingredients proven to be good for your dog’s oral health.
To schedule a dental clean for your dog, call Animal Care Experts Veterinary Hospital at (860) 935-0304 to reach our office in Thompson, Connecticut.