There are many things we can do as pet caregivers to ensure that our dog’s teeth and gums are in good health, starting with at-home care:
Conduct Frequent Brushing (with a toothbrush or finger brush and dog toothpaste, dental wipes, dental spray, etc.)
Check Teeth, Gums, and Mouth (for growths, broken teeth, discoloration, decay, bleeding gums, swelling, soreness, bad breath)
Watch for Refusal to Eat (due to dental or mouth pain)
Provide Chew Toys
Give Occasional Dental Chew
Give Healthy Crunchy Treats
Veterinarian-Approved Diet for Dental Health
Have Periodic Veterinarian Dental Check-Ups
Brushing your dog’s teeth is one of the best things to do for dental health. There is a great selection of aids to help with home dental care ranging from a toothbrush or a finger brush along with a toothpaste specifically for dogs (or cats), to pet wipes for teeth and sprays.
So, just how often should you brush your dog’s teeth? “At least three times a week” is the recommendation from the AVMA.
To check if dental aids, treats, or foods are good for your dog or cat, first always check with your own veterinarian. You can also check out the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VPOC) list of accepted products for both dogs and cats.
“Most dental disease occurs below the gum line, where you can't see it. Bacteria that you can't see can damage the tissues connecting the teeth and jaw. That's why it's so important to have your veterinarian regularly examine your pet's teeth….”
~American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Dental disease, if let go, can lead to your dog having other serious and possibly life-threatening issues involving his/her jaw, heart, kidneys, and more. So how do you know if your pets have dental disease if you already clean and check their teeth and they look good on the surface?
Since a problem could be unseen, the AVMA states, “Most dental disease occurs below the gum line, where you can't see it. Bacteria that you can't see can damage the tissues connecting the teeth and jaw. That's why it's so important to have your veterinarian regularly examine your pet's teeth and perform regular professional dental cleanings.”
How is my pet monitored under anesthesia? Is the pet intubated and their airway protected from debris?
Who will be monitoring the anesthesia?
How often do you perform this procedure?
What equipment do you have to perform this procedure?
Does my pet need advanced imaging like intra-oral radiographs or CT? Do you use sterile equipment on each patient?
Who performs your surgical extractions?
Are there alternatives and options to treat my pet’s disease or problem?
Could a root canal be performed to save any fractured teeth?
What are the risks and complications associated with this dental procedure?
Who will be with my pet as it recovers from anesthesia?
Does your facility offer 24-hour care?
Who do you refer to if my pets needs 24 hour care?
Check out the AVMA’s step-by-step video of how to brush your pets’ teeth:
For more important information, including visuals, download the AVMA’s Pet Dental Care brochure HERE.
Remember when it comes to any aspect of a pet’s health, prevention is key. So get out those toothbrushes and chew toys, schedule a vet dental check-up, and let your pet’s healthy smile be your loving thanks!
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books: What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the FiveSibes.com, an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed and Canine Epilepsy information, as well as her international award-winning FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in AmericanPet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of her award-winning "The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.
Dorothy is an 11-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2019, 2017, and 2016 for her fiction, writing, photography & design. She was also awarded The Grey Muzzle Award by The Grey Muzzle Organization for "Excellence in writing/media of the plight of at-risk senior dogs" on her show “The Sibe Vibe” broadcasted on Dog Works Radio and iTunes. Her book EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy received the 2018 Independent Press Award for “Excellence” in the Reference Book category and 2017 NYC Big Book Award for “Excellence” in the Animal/Pet book category. Dorothy was also named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the #FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign and partnered with The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for #Paws4Purple Project, both inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and granddaughter. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Twitter and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom).