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Dog Dental Care

Dental care is very important to the health and wellbeing of your pet. It is not about having a pretty smile although that is an added bonus. It is about prevention of disease in the mouth. Dogs are hard on their teeth, they investigate the entire world with their mouth. They chew on toys, chase balls and chew on favorite toys for hours and hours. They may play tug of war with another dog using their favorite rope toy. Left untreated gingivitis, tartar and gum recession occurs. Eventually, the support systems of the teeth give away as periodontal disease occurs. A diseased mouth is a painful mouth and dogs will do their very best to hide signs of pain. Broken teeth can lead to tooth root abscesses and sensitivity to hot and cold. Prevention is key.

Do I need to brush my dog’s teeth?

Home dental care is important to keeping your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. Approaches to how this takes place will vary based on your comfort level, the dog’s acceptance of the home dental care and your lifestyle. Ideally, dogs should have their teeth brushed once a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and toothpaste designed for pets. Human toothpaste contains fluoride which can’t be swallowed, so you should purchase pet toothpaste unless you can teach your dog how to spit! It is important to be careful when brushing so that you do not cause pain or jab the back of the mouth. Start gradually and make it a fun time to bond with your dog. Many dogs absolutely love getting their teeth brushed. The poultry flavoured toothpaste certainly helps. Other home dental care products include mouth rinses, dental diets, safe dental chew toys and dental treats. Our healthcare team will be more than happy to explain what options are available and will be a good fit for you and your dog.

I was told my dog needs a dental cleaning, what does that involve?

There are 4 stages of dental disease. Once tartar and gingivitis are well established in your dog’s mouth, home dental care will not be enough. It is important to have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned to prevent dental disease from progressing. Untreated, it will progress. The goal is to intervene before pain and infection occur. Professional dentistry is performed under general anesthesia. The same professional scaling and polishing of the teeth that happens at your dentist will happen with your dog. Our Veterinary Technicians will remove tartar above the gum line and just below the gum line to help restore health to your pet’s mouth. We will probe the gum line to identify if there are any pockets forming which can indicate more advanced dental disease. Once your pet’s teeth have been polished and rinsed, the Veterinarian will perform an oral examination and review dental radiographs to assess if there is any disease hidden below the gum line. If there are any teeth that require extraction, an estimate will be provided for the procedure. A nerve block will be given to prevent pain and home pain medication will be dispensed as well. Antibiotics may be sent home as well. This is a day procedure and your dog will be home with you that evening after spending the day with us. Many pet owners are overjoyed when they see their dog playing with their toys again. They had not realized their dog was in pain. Once the dental disease was addressed and the pain is gone, their dog is chewing on toys again and happy as can be.

I am concerned about my dog having anesthesia for their dental cleaning. Can you do it with them awake?

In order for the teeth to properly be cleaned and assessed, the dog needs to be perfectly still. It is not just the tartar on the part of the tooth that you see we are concerned with. Bacteria, food, and saliva collect at the gum line and as the gum begins to detach from the tooth creating a pocket, tartar begins to form below the gum line. This continues to happen as the pocket gets deeper and deeper. This subgingival (below the gum line) tartar cannot be sufficiently scaled, polished and rinsed with the dog awake. Left untreated, oral disease progresses. Pets undergoing anesthesia for dental care have pre-anesthetic blood work performed to identify if there are other health concerns present. There is a skilled technician monitoring anesthesia the entire procedure. Your dog’s blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate and respiratory rate are all closely monitored. In addition, an intravenous catheter is placed, and your pet receives intravenous fluids as well. We take great pride in doing all we can to ensure your dog is well cared for during their stay.

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