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Getting A New Puppy? Understanding Your Dog's Dental Care

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If you are getting a new puppy, you will likely need to take them in for their first wellness exam to get vaccinations and ask your vet about any questions such as diet and exercise needs. One aspect of overall wellness that some owners may overlook is their dog's dental care. Read on to learn more about dental procedures and at-home dental care for your pup.

Which Dogs Need Dental Care?

The good news is that canine cavities are relatively rare. The Canine Veterinary Journal states that dogs tend to have fewer cavities than humans because they have wider inter-dental spacing, have diets with few fermentable carbohydrates, and have higher pH levels in their saliva. However, like humans, cavities can occur, and if they aren't treated, your dog could experience symptoms like:

  • Bad breath
  • Pain while eating
  • Inflamed gums
  • Bloody gums or saliva
  • Loose teeth

To mitigate dental issues, your veterinarian may recommend that your dog comes in for annual dental cleanings once they are about two or three years old. Larger breeds may not have to come in as often as smaller ones. Smaller breeds like Shih Tzus, pugs, chihuahuas, dachshunds, etc. are more prone to cavities.

What Are Dental Cleanings Like for Dogs?

Dental cleanings for dogs do require anesthesia, as the veterinarian will not want your dog to stress or be in pain during this procedure. But overall, dental cleanings for dogs are much like cleanings for humans. The vet will take x-rays and examine your dog's mouth to look for signs of gingivitis or oral cancer. The vet will also use manual scalers and ultrasonic scalers to remove plaque on teeth and below the gum line. After the dental cleaning, your vet will monitor your dog until they safely wake from anesthesia. When you take your dog home, they will be a bit groggy, and your vet might prescribe wet food or a soft kibble for a week or so to prevent soreness.

How Can You Take Care of Your Dog's Teeth at Home?

Ask your vet about recommendations for toothbrushes and kinds of toothpaste for dogs. You should never use your own toothpaste with your dog as some of the ingredients could be toxic. Your dentist can show you how to properly brush your dog's teeth at home; it's easier to start this habit when your dog is young. You can reward your dog after brushing with a treat or a favorite toy.

If brushing is too difficult, your dentist may recommend dental treats that your dog can chew on. These treats have ingredients that help to scrape away tartar and promote saliva flow. Dental wipes for pets are also a good option, as your dog may tolerate these products better than a brush.

Reach out to a local hospital like Indian Creek Veterinary Hospital for more information on pet dental care.