Dogs can develop many of the same health problems as people can, including dental problems, such as gum disease, infections, and cracked or broken teeth. Toothaches are just as painful for our canine companions as they are for us! Taking care of your pet’s teeth is crucial to his health and well-being. As your Marion, IA vet, I discuss doggy dental care below.
Your pet can’t tell you what is wrong, or call to make himself an appointment. It’s up to you to watch for warning signs. Bad breath is one of the most common ones. Other red flags include stringy, bloody, or excessive drool; tartar buildup; swelling; bloody smears on bowls and toys. Your dog may change his eating habits if his teeth hurt: he may dribble food, chew on one side of his mouth, or start preferring softer foods. He may also seem grumpy and/or withdrawn, and may not be very interested in playing.
Dogs should have their teeth checked at least once a year. In between appointments, if you notice any of the symptoms I’ve listed above, contact your vet right away. Once your vet has diagnosed the issue, you’ll be able to discuss treatment options. These may range from simple cleanings to extractions and other procedures. It’s worth noting that the point of doggy dental treatments is not to give Fido a perfect smile. Your pet will probably never have minty-fresh breath, and he’ll still be adorable with a crooked grin. The goal is to address issues that cause pain and/or lead to infections or other health issues.
There are some things you can do at home to keep your dog’s mouth healthy. Brushing your pup’s teeth will be very beneficial. Start by just gently rubbing Fido’s teeth and gums with your finger, to get him used to the idea. Later, you’ll want to start incorporating a pet toothbrush and some dog toothpaste. No luck? You can still keep your furry friend’s choppers healthy by using dental-formula treats, kibble, and chews. (Tip: try putting some pet toothpaste on a chew stick.) Dental flakes may also help, as will oral rinses. Last but not least, make sure your dog always has clean water and suitable chew toys.
Please contact me, your local Marion, IA vet, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. I’m here to help!