Dental Health

By: DogTrekker Staff

Vet Buzz from Bill Barboni, DVM and Chris Pitts, RVT,
Marin Pet Hospital, San Rafael, CA

February is National Dental Health Month in the veterinary world. Many veterinarians use this month to promote dental care and may evenoffer basic dental services at a discount.
Keeping your dog’s teeth clean and tartar free can help the health of your dog’s entire system. Bacteria love to set up shop in the mouth where they can then propagate and cause local infection, such as an abscess in a tooth, or inflammation of the gums. This infection, in turn, can then travel through the bloodstreamleading to compromised organs, such as in the case of kidney failure.

In particular, keeping your dog’s teeth clean is especially important for older pets or pets with heart disease. The bacteria can house themselves in the heart valves and start an infection which compromises your dog’s circulation. This is a potentially lethal situation and needs to be taken care of immediately.

Once you make the decision to have your pet’s teeth cleaned with your veterinarian then the maintenance care falls back to you.  It is wonderful if you, as an owner, can brush the teeth on a daily basis. Brushing the teeth can prevent tartar buildup, and will save you money in the long run as your dog will not require dental cleanings as often. Brushing your dog’s teeth might be easier than you think; ask your veterinarian to show you how.

We are asked all the time how often a dog’s teeth should be cleaned professionally. Unfortunately, it really depends on the dog. For instance, one of our nurses has two dogs; a Lab mix and a Treeing Coon Hound. The Lab mix is thirteen and has only needed one dental in her life. The Treeing Coon Hound, however, requires a dental every eight months. Toy breeds tend to need dental cleanings more often, as do dogs that produce more drool.

If your dog has stinky breath, is dropping food out of his mouth, or looking at his full food bowl and not eating, he might need dental care. February is a great time to get started on a dental routine.