Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

February is Dental Health Month!

by Katie McKay | Feb 06, 2021
Inspired by a recent question that circulated in our email listserv at NRGRR, your dog's dental health is something that many people find a bit perplexing. Here's what they wrote:

Thought I’d reach out and ask what people have done about dental cleaning procedures for their dogs. My vet is recommending it for my 7 yr old. She does have yellow/brown looking molars, but is not experiencing any other issues. It seems like her case is on the milder side of what usually necessitates a procedure. I am mostly concerned about the anesthesia and putting her through all of that. (Although she is a NRGRR adopted dog, she is only 30-35 lbs). I confess I have not tried brushing her teeth regularly, etc. She is a really strong chewer and Greenies aren’t good for her (breaks them down quickly and can eat chunks).

Should I go ahead and have it done now - or wait and possibly cause her teeth to have more severe problems?

Your vet may recommend a dental cleaning even though your dog has just had one, why is that? How do they determine that its necessary and how often it needs to be done? Here was my response:

Did the vet say what grade dental disease your dog has? They are graded 0 to 4. Also, does your pup have red lines along the gum line? Teeth will get dirty and stained in our dog's lifetime, this doesn't necessarily mean that they have dental disease. The grading is helpful to determine if there is dental disease present. I also recommend checking yourself =).

There are quite a few options for at home care and I would start with one of those. A good antler is a perfectly wonderful option for chewing. They don't break apart like greenies and are available in soft, medium or hard so as not to damage the teeth, depending on what kind of chewer you have. I have had success with Nylabone brand foaming tooth cleaner. You just spray it on and it helps to dissolve some of the tarter. 

Anesthesia for dogs is very safe, so if you do have to clean their teeth, its a low risk in that respect. If your dog has broken or infected teeth that are causing pain or infection then its really important to have that addressed because the bacteria can get into the blood stream and cause heart problems. Interesting fact, dog teeth cleaning consists of using an ultrasound cleaner and often times once you start doing dental on your dog you will need to continue to do them more regularly. The ultrasound can leave grooves in the teeth, if not used properly, where bacteria can grow. 

At home care is absolutely an option especially if this is the first time you are hearing about issues from your vet.

Recently I posted this helpful video on how to clean your dog's teeth at home and some options for products that are available. This also offers a look at my dog's teeth to show you what your vet is looking for when grading their level of dental disease.

I hope you found this helpful and can have a good conversation with your vet about dental care. In case you just can't get enough learning about canine canines, below are two links to previous blogs I have written on dental care! 

Brush on, Brush Off
Doggie Dental Q&A

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