Just like people, dogs require regular, proper dental care to ensure good oral hygiene and health. While many pet owners think chewing rawhides and other toys removes plaque and tartar buildup, dogs require daily tooth care as well as annual checkups. Ignoring dental health can lead to a variety of medical problems that can become painful if left untreated.
Canine Dental Care
Dogs should have their teeth brushed daily with a dog toothbrush or finger brush and specially formulated canine toothpaste. Starting when a puppy is young will get him used to the process. Failure to properly clean your dog’s teeth can lead to plaque, gingivitis and gum disease. Dogs who develop dental problems may require extensive dental work, such as extractions, which can be both costly and uncomfortable.
Yearly Dentist Visit
Your vet may be able to perform a routine annual dental exam and deep cleaning on your dog’s teeth. If not, he should be able to refer you to a qualified professional who performs these services. Some grooming facilities also offer regular brushing to help keep your pup’s teeth and gums in good shape. Regular monitoring not only protects against dental problems, it can also help you identify abscesses, impacted teeth or other mouth-related ailments before they become serious.
Signs of Dental Problems
In addition to preventative dental treatment, there may be times when your dog needs an emergency trip to the dentist. Fractured or loose teeth can be painful conditions that require immediate attention. Signs your pup is experiencing dental pain include chewing only on one side of his mouth, dribbling food or wincing when he eats. He may also have bleeding gums, bad breath or whine when you touch his face. If a tooth problem leads to an infection, it can enter the bloodstream and become a serious health concern, so treat dental emergencies immediately.
Dental Visit Prep
If your dog gets anxious when he goes for routine checkups, he may also become upset with the prospect of a canine dentist visit. Talk to your vet about the best way to prepare your pup for this type of exam. He may be able to prescribe an appropriate sedative that will relax your pup and allow him to be examined. Depending on the circumstances, your dog may have to be anesthetized for the procedure, both to protect the dentists against being bitten and to ensure your dog gets adequate treatment.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.