Dental health-issue is a frequent and painful conditions that many dogs suffer from in silence. Dogs with dental health-issue can experience pain for months and years in conditions that would require people to visit a dentist in just a few hours. It is estimated that within two years, 80% of dogs will have dental health-issue. As a pet parent, you can protect your dog and help prevent and treat painful dental health-issue in the early (less painful) stages.
Here is my 5-step plan that you can implement right now to make sure your dog has a healthy, pain-free mouth.
Step 1: Identify the signs
It is important to emphasize that most dogs do not complain and do not show signs of painful dental health-issue.
Here are some warning signs:
- Stale breath
- Tartar (brown/white plaque on the teeth)
- Gingivitis (red line along the gums)
- Avoid chewing food/toys/BONES
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- There is no sign that steps 3-5 are crucial!
Step 2: Home Care
Brushing your dog’s teeth can make a big difference in preventing dental health-issue. Check out my styling tips here. The ideal is to brush your dog’s teeth every day. It takes 48 hours for tartar to form. If you can’t brush your teeth every day, brush when you can. If your puppy does not allow you to brush his teeth or you find it difficult to find time, do not be discouraged. However, giving up daily brushing will make steps 3 to 5 mandatory.
Step 3: Oral exams at home
Know your dog’s mouth. Observe redness and swelling along the gum line, bumps and bumps, as well as damaged teeth. Ask your veterinarian to show you which teeth are most often broken. Watch for discolored teeth. It’s also a good time to sniff your dog’s breath. If you find something disturbing or if you have bad breath, make an appointment with your veterinarian or send a photo.
Step 4: Oral exams at your veterinarian
This should be done every 6 months or more often if your puppy already has a dental health-issue. This allows a professional to assess the severity of tartar, gingivitis and damaged teeth of your dog. Your veterinarian can only evaluate part of your dog’s mouth during a surveillance examination. For this reason, step 5 is very important.
Step 5: Tooth brushing and X-ray under anesthesia
When your dog is under very light sedation, your veterinarian can do an X-ray and examine all dental structures that are not visible when examined in a waking state. This is a step that ensures that your dog does not suffer in silence. A tooth can look absolutely healthy, but it has a painful health-issue below the gum line.
Many puppy parents are concerned that anesthesia is not safe for their dog on a regular basis. With good protocols, anesthesia is generally very safe, and regular cleanings can significantly reduce the duration of this procedure from start to finish (limiting the time your dog spends under anesthesia).
Here are some questions you can ask your veterinarian to make sure you follow standard anesthesia protocols:
“Are you going to do any laboratory work before anesthesia?”Your veterinarian should perform a complete blood test (CBC) and a chemical analysis before anesthesia.
“Will a dedicated nurse take care of my dog during anesthesia and during recovery?”The answer must be yes! Bonus points if there are two of them!
“Will the veterinarian use local anesthesia (nerve block) before performing extractions?”This makes it possible to reduce general anesthesia and make the procedure safer.
“Will a complete X-ray of the teeth in the mouth be performed?”The answer must be yes!
Maintaining your dog’s oral health is an important aspect of maintaining his overall health. Do your best and if you go the distance of dental care, it’s never too after to come back!