Periodontal disease and tooth decay are as problematic for dogs as they are for people, and just as painful. That's why caring for your dog's teeth is an important element of caring for your dog's overall health. Today, our Windsor vets share some tips on how to prepare your dog for a dental cleaning.
Why Teeth Cleaning is Important For Dogs
Your dog's oral health, like yours, is an important component of their overall well-being. By the age of three years, dogs frequently show signs of periodontal disease (gum disease). This early onset of dental disease can have serious long-term consequences for their health.
Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease in humans, and this appears to be true for our canine companions as well.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, causing heart function to suffer and other organs to malfunction. These health concerns are in addition to the more visible issue of pain caused by eroded gums and missing or damaged teeth.
At-home oral health care routines combined with dental treats can help your dog keep their teeth clean and control plaque and tartar buildup. However, the best way to keep your dog's mouth clean and healthy is to take him to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning.
Gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and, in severe cases, pain, tooth decay, and tooth loss may occur if your dog does not receive an annual professional cleaning.
What Happens During a Dog Dental Appointment
Our Windsor vets at New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care recommend bringing your dog in for a dental appointment at least once a year, or more frequently if they are suffering from more severe or recurring dental problems, to help prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease.
When you bring your dog to New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care for a dental checkup, our veterinarians will perform a full oral examination and look for signs of dental problems, such as:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
Our veterinarians examine all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and, if necessary, perform additional diagnostics to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet. We will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, complete with charting after your pet has been safely sedated (just like your dentist does during your examinations).
We will thoroughly clean and polish your dog's teeth, both above and below the gum line, while he is safely and comfortably sedated. We probe and x-ray the teeth, then use a fluoride treatment to help protect against future decay and damage before applying a dental sealant to prevent plaque buildup.
If your dog has advanced periodontal disease, we will collaborate with you to create a treatment plan that will help restore your dog's mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.
How To Prepare Your Dog For Teeth Cleaning
1. Visit Your Vet for a Physical
Your dog will be examined by a veterinarian to ensure that she is healthy enough for the procedure. The doctor will examine her heart for murmurs or other abnormalities. If your dog has any cardiac concerns, the veterinarian may recommend chest radiographs or a cardiology consult. The veterinarian will also look for signs of anemia on the mucous membranes.
2. Get Bloodwork Done
Drawing blood from your dog to check her liver and kidney functions is the safest way to determine if she is fit to be sedated. Blood tests are especially important in older dogs because they can detect early kidney or liver disease. A dog who is experiencing these symptoms should not be put under anesthesia.
3. Start Antibiotics
Dogs with severe dental infections or gingivitis are frequently given antibiotics a few days before the procedure to prevent complications and to try to clear the infection.
4. Fast The Night Before
If your dog is having a dental cleaning, you should keep food and water away from them for about 12 hours before the procedure. The fast is necessary to prevent your dog from vomiting while under sedation, which can lead to serious complications. Fast your dog the night before the dental procedure, or get specific instructions from your veterinarian.