Pet dental care is easy to overlook, but regular teeth cleanings are vital for your dog’s health. Without dental care, plaque builds up on your dog’s teeth, causing gum inflammation that can lead to tissue decay. Prolonged neglect can even result in tooth loss, which can make eating difficult. This ultimate end of periodontal disease may sound extreme and rare, but four out of five dogs over three years old are in the early to advanced stages of gum disease.
As a responsible pet owner, it’s time to take your dog’s teeth seriously to promote health and wellness into old age. Here’s more information about when to get your dog’s teeth cleaned and what you can do at home to encourage healthy teeth and gums.
How Often to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth
Vets recommend you take your dog in for professional teeth cleanings once a year starting at six months old. Greyhounds and small- to medium-size breeds may need more frequent cleanings than this. You can combine dental checkups with other services, such a grooming, nail trimming and vaccinations so it isn’t a separate, inconvenient trip.
Here’s what you can expect during your pet’s dental appointment:
- The vet looks inside your dog’s mouth to inspect the gums and check for any bad odors, a sign of gum disease.
- Your dog is put under general anesthesia.
- The vet performs a full exam, which includes checking the teeth, gums, tonsils, tongue, lips, cheeks, jaw and lymph nodes.
- The vet takes x-rays to get a full picture of what’s going on below the gums. This is vital for diagnosing periodontal disease.
- The vet cleans your dog’s teeth, removing odor-causing plaque and tartar buildup and leaving your pooch with a bright, happy smile.
How to Care for Your Dog’s Teeth at Home
The more you do at home, the fewer problems you can expect your vet to find at your dog’s next dental appointment. The best things you can do to promote healthy teeth and gums include:
- Brush your dog’s teeth daily: Less than 1 percent of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth regularly, but it’s the best thing you can do to loosen plaque and keep gum disease at bay. Four out of five pets – including cats – can be coaxed into daily brushing if you arm yourself with beef-, chicken- or salmon-flavored toothpaste and a pet toothbrush.
- Feed your dog high-quality dry pet food: Dry food is much better for your dog’s teeth than wet food, and some are specifically labeled as “dental diet” approved. Top options include food and treats with tooth-scrubbing shapes and additives that help keep plaque soft.
- Encourage chew time: Pet-safe chew toys – including rawhide, rubber balls and bendable bones – can help clean your dog’s teeth while they play. Toys and treats to avoid include cow or pig hooves, nylon bones, unbendable rawhide, and sheep or cow bones. These hard toys can crack your pet’s teeth.
- Offer oral rinses: These help decrease plaque, which is very important in pets prone to buildup between cleanings. Talk to your vet for recommendations.
Have Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned at Germantown Vet Clinic
We boast a state-of-the-art veterinary dental suite for our furry patients in Montgomery County. Thanks to our staff’s extensive training, we can provide a higher level of pet dental care than the average veterinary hospital. We also offer dental wellness plans to make teeth cleaning, oral exams, x-rays, anesthesia and other dental services more affordable.
To learn more about our dental wellness plans, or to schedule teeth cleaning for your dog, please contact Germantown Vet Clinic.