Need a Dog Dental Cleaning? Top Questions from Castle Rock Families
July 14th, 2014 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic
If you’re like many Castle Rock pet families, you may have questions about getting a dog dental cleaning. What’s the best age to start? How often is cleaning needed? Why do so many veterinarians recommend anesthesia?
Rest easy! We turned to Dr. Melanie, one of our Castle Rock veterinarians, for answers. She answered the top dental questions she’s asked from local pet families, so you can make great decisions for your dog.
Call our Castle Rock veterinarians to schedule a dog dental cleaning. You can reach us at: (303) 688-3757. Or:
#1: How often is a dog dental cleaning needed?
Typically, once a year is plenty for a dog dental cleaning, but the timing depends on your pup.
Some dogs need to come in more often for a dental cleaning. It depends on their breed and genetics. For example, smaller dog breeds often need more timely visits. Also, if your dog has periodontal disease, he or she will require more frequent teeth cleanings.
#2: What’s the best age to get the first dog dental cleaning?
Again, it depends on your dog. Some don’t need a dog dental cleaning until they’re six or seven years old. Others — such as those smaller dog breeds — need a dental cleaning by the time they’re two years old.
If you’re bringing your dog in for an annual veterinary checkup, we’ll check your pet’s teeth. We’re happy to let you know the right timing.
#3: Do I really need to bring my dog in once a year for teeth cleaning?
Believe it or not, dental disease (known as pet periodontal disease) is the most widespread disease in adult dogs and cats1. As many as 85% of dogs have the disease by the time they’re three or four years old2.
If pet periodontal disease isn’t treated, it can really harm your dog’s body:
- Causing chronic pain
- Destroying your dog’s teeth, gums and bones
- Contributing to even more serious issues, such as damage to your dog’s major organs
The good news is you can easily prevent periodontal disease in your dog, particularly if you start early. It simply takes a combination of routine home care and regular dental cleanings. You can save your dog from a lot of discomfort and pain. Not to mention, you can save yourself a lot of money.
As other Castle Rock pet families will tell you, prevention is much less expensive than removing teeth!
#4: What causes dog periodontal disease?
Dog periodontal disease is an inflammation and infection in the gums around your pet’s teeth. It’s caused by bacteria. They build up in your dog’s mouth, forming soft plaque that can get underneath the gum line and harden into tartar.
#5: What are some signs of dog periodontal disease that I should be looking for at home?
Keep in mind, dog periodontal disease can be difficult to identify. Plus, dogs are good at hiding pain.
For example, dogs with severe cases of periodontal disease may still be eating regularly. Ultimately, though, they’ll reach a point in which they start swallowing their food without chewing it.
Nonetheless, you may notice your dog has:
- Bad breath
- Irritated gums
- Heavy salivation
- Problems picking up food
- Reluctance to eat (particularly in cats)
- A tendency to chew on one side of the mouth, and/or
- Bumps and lumps in the mouth
If you begin to notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to bring your dog in for a veterinary visit.
#6: What can I do for my dog between dental cleanings?
There are a variety of daily activities you can do at home to help prevent dog periodontal disease. For example, you can:
- Give your dog a dental chew
- Add a drinking water additive to your dog’s water bowl to fight plaque and freshen breath
- Squirt a dental oral rinse into your dog’s mouth (If your dog is sensitive to drinking water additives, many families find this option to be a good alternative.)
- Brush your dog’s teeth with a special toothbrush and toothpaste
We know you may be thinking, “Seriously! Brush my dog’s teeth?!?”
If you’re skeptical or nervous, don’t worry. We’re here to help you understand your options. We can help you figure out what works best for your dog and show you the right brushing techniques.
#7: What’s the best age to start routine dental care at home?
While you can start at any age, dogs get their adult teeth when they’re six months old. So, it’s best to start home dental care by six months of age (or earlier).
Not to mention, it’s much easier to start with a puppy. Your pup will get used to it faster.
#8: What about chew toys and bones for dogs?
If you’re giving your dog chew toys, the more chewing you can get him or her to do, the better. Keep in mind, though, once the plaque has built up, the toy may not help break the plaque down.
The most important thing is to make sure the chew toy or bone won’t fracture your dog’s teeth. A good rule of thumb is, if you knock your dog’s chew toy or bone on your own knee and it hurts, it’s too hard for the dog and runs the risk of fracturing teeth.
#9: Why do you use anesthesia during a dog dental cleaning?
Anesthesia allows us to be more thorough in a dog dental cleaning. It’s also more comfortable for your dog.
With your dog sedated, we can clean teeth beneath the gum line and on the inside of the mouth (areas susceptible to periodontal disease).
It also allows us to take x-rays to see if there is any root damage.
#10: Why don’t you recommend anesthesia-free teeth cleanings for dogs?
An anesthesia-free teeth cleaning is a cosmetic procedure. It isn’t a thorough, oral health procedure. Because your dog is awake, the technician can’t clean beneath your pet’s gum line or along the interior side of the teeth. (And remember, these are areas that are vulnerable to periodontal disease.)
Your dog’s teeth may look good following anesthesia-free teeth cleanings. With x-rays, though, our veterinarians often find that the teeth have rotted underneath.
There are other risks too, such as:
- Stress and anxiety for your dog
- Injuries to your dog if he or she makes a sudden movement
#11: Is dog anesthesia safe?
Yes, modern anesthesia is very safe if you’re visiting a reputable Castle Rock veterinary clinic, such as Cherished Companions.
At our veterinary clinic, we monitor your dog’s oxygen level, heart rate and blood pressure with each dog dental cleaning. We also place an IV catheter and connect IV fluids, so we can stabilize your dog’s blood pressure and quickly administer medication, if needed.
#12: What should I expect in the 24 hours after a dog dental cleaning?
In the 24 hours after a dog dental cleaning, the main thing is your pet may still be a little sleepy. (With that said, there is typically very little after-effect because we run IV fluids during the dental cleaning.) Make sure your dog is comfortable and has a nice place to rest. Offer food if your dog is ready, but don’t be concerned if he or she needs a little time.
The big thing is, don’t plan on taking your dog for a five-mile hike right after a dog dental cleaning!
If we have to remove teeth, we’ll give you more detailed guidance at the time of your pet’s visit.
Parting thoughts on getting a dog dental cleaning
To support you in raising a happy and healthy pet, we always include a routine dental exam in your dog’s annual checkup.
You’re also welcome to schedule a complimentary dental exam at any time during the year, so our veterinarians can check your dog’s dental health. Here’s to happy and comfortable pups!
To schedule a dental evaluation or a teeth cleaning for your dog, call us at (303) 688-3757 or:
Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.
This article is intended to provide general guidance about getting a dog dental cleaning. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, CO, we welcome your call!)
© 2014, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic
1 American Veterinary Dental College
2 Virbac Animal Health