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Everything You Need To Know About Having Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned

Halitosis, also known as doggy breath, is a common complaint among puppy parents. While bad breath is certainly a nuisance, it can also indicate that your dog is at risk for more serious problems. At-home dental care is a great way to slow the effects of dental disease, but nothing is as effective as having your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned.

What effect can dental disease have on your dog?

According to the veterinary publication, DVM360Periodontal disease is the most common health problem encountered by small animal practitioners today. Statistics indicate that 80% of dogs have some form of dental disease by the age of three.

Unfortunately for our dogs, periodontal disease means more than just bad breath. It causes inflammation of the gums, roots and ligaments that anchor the teeth in the jaw. Over time, plaque and bacteria spread below the gum line, creating pockets of infection that break down and destroy the teeth. As you can imagine, this process is painful and can lead to poor appetite, weight loss and depression.

In cases of advanced dental disease, bacteria enter the bloodstream, putting dogs at risk for more serious diseases such as heart disease and kidney and/or liver failure.

Why is it important to have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned?

A 2015 survey conducted on behalf of Royal Canin found that only 7% of dog owners brush their pup’s teeth daily. The stats improve slightly if you brush “a few times a week” and use alternative methods such as dental chews and treats. But even regular brushing and high-quality dental products can’t match the restorative power of professional dental cleanings.

“If we are not going to brush our pets’ teeth, we should be comfortable that this procedure will be necessary,” writes veterinarian Andy Rourk. “We humans brush our teeth twice a day and still have our teeth professionally cleaned every six to twelve months. Imagine how important cleaning would be if we never cleaned! Even if we brush regularly, our pets may need periodic professional dental cleanings.”

As previously mentioned, not caring for our dogs’ teeth can have serious consequences on their health and quality of life. Dr. Rourk admits he is not among the 7% of daily dog ​​toothbrush users, but he “never gives up on the dream.” In the meantime, he recommends feeding a high-quality diet and planning to have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned every six to 12 months.

What does a professional dental cleaning entail?

In the days – weeks before the procedure:

  • Your dog’s journey to healthy teeth starts well before the day of the procedure. Veterinarians often notice signs of tartar buildup and periodontal disease during routine physical examinations. In other cases, the owner may bring the dog in specifically to have his teeth checked after noticing bad breath, drooling, or difficulty eating.
  • During this first visit, your veterinarian will discuss the risks and benefits of having your dog’s teeth cleaned. He or she will also recommend diagnostic tests to determine if your dog is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
  • You may also receive an itemized estimate. Please note: this is only an estimate! Costs may change once your vet is able to examine your dog’s mouth further under anesthesia.

The day of the procedure:

  • Do not feed your dog after a certain time the night before and on the day your dog has its teeth cleaned. This reduces your dog’s risk of vomiting under anesthesia.
  • Give your dog all prescribed medications unless your veterinarian prescribes otherwise.
  • When you drop off your dog, be sure to provide phone number(s) where the staff can reach you throughout the day.

During the procedure:

  • Once your dog is anesthetized, your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination of the mouth.
  • Your dog will receive oxygen and anesthetic gas through a tracheal tube. Most vets also insert an IV catheter and administer fluids.
  • Your vet will use an ultrasonic scaler to remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth. This tool works by vibrating at high speed.
  • He or she will use a hand scaler to remove smaller pieces of debris and clean the sides of the teeth and under the gum line.
  • After all plaque and tartar have been removed, the vet will polish the tooth surfaces and apply fluoride.
  • The staff will use blankets and body warmers to prevent your dog’s core temperature from dropping as he recovers from anesthesia.
  • With a few simple instructions, most dogs can go home the same day.

Are professional dental cleanings safe?

As with any procedure involving general anesthesia, there is always some risk. However, when you consider the consequences of advanced dental disease, the benefits usually outweigh this concern.

However, you should still do your homework before having your dog’s teeth cleaned. During the preliminary visit, ask your veterinarian to explain the procedure and discuss your dog’s individual anesthesia risks. For example, older dogs and brachycephalic (short-snouted) breeds tend to have a slightly higher risk of side effects.

Why don’t more owners have their dog’s teeth cleaned?

Many owners don’t even think about having their dog’s teeth cleaned until they notice obvious signs, such as bad breath or difficulty chewing. Because dogs often hide their discomfort, they may not receive treatment until their teeth have already deteriorated.

Additionally, dental cleaning can be relatively expensive compared to home oral care products. Costs depend on several factors, including where you live and the severity of your dog’s dental disease. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand dollars when you factor in expensive items such as anesthesia, x-rays, and complicated extractions.

Dr. Judy Morgan says cheaper clinics may not include important services such as pre-operative blood tests and x-rays in their dental packages. In some cases, saving money can mean sacrificing quality of care.

“It’s difficult to compare prices because someone with lower costs may not provide preoperative screening, IV fluids or certified technicians.”

Finally, some pet parents may be too nervous to have their dog’s teeth cleaned. While it’s completely normal to worry, dental procedures are generally quite safe. As discussed above, feel free to ask questions about exactly what precautions the staff is taking to protect the dogs in their care.

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