Happy National Pet Dental Health Month! Did you know that February is the month we celebrate the source of all those slobbery kisses we receive from our canine companions? And did you know that our dog’s dental health is just as important as our own? Just like you and I, our dog’s need routine dental care, exams and cleanings in order to maintain a clean bill of health! So what exactly does all of this mean?
Routine Dental Care
If you are one of the lucky few that are able to brush your dog’s teeth twice daily (let’s be honest, most of us are lucky to brush our dog’s teeth once a month), then pat yourselves on the back. Job well done. For the rest of us, don’t worry! It’s okay if you aren’t able to brush your dog’s teeth routinely. Just do the best you can and follow your vet’s at home instructions!
The most important thing you can do is make sure that your dog’s teeth are checked by your veterinarian at least once if not twice a year. This will ensure that any abnormalities/problems are caught sooner rather than later, and you can discuss with your vet the proper course of treatment depending on what they find.
As much as we love our dog’s and as wonderful as they are, I have yet to meet a dog that will lie still (without any sedation) and let me do a full oral exam, cleaning, polishing, take radiographs (x-rays), etc. Many humans don’t sit still in the dental chair, so how can we expect our dog’s to just sit there? Well, they don’t. The majority of dental treatments require deep sedation or general anesthesia. Therefore, it is imperative that you work with your vet to determine whether or not your dog is a candidate for sedation/anesthesia prior to pursuing any dental treatment.
Of course, not everything will fall under the category of routine. Sometimes we will be dealing with dental disease (a very broad term that encompasses many of the issues our dog’s mouths can be afflicted with), growths or masses, and/or the need for extractions. My best recommendation? Make sure that you ask questions and understand what the vet is recommending. Remember: it is okay to get a second opinion, or (if available to you) pursue the services of a board certified dentist/surgeon (depending on the situation).
When it is all said and done, you will be happy to know that the slobbery kisses you are receiving are from a very well cared for and healthy mouth!
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Dr. Rebecca Jackson is a staff veterinarian for Petplan pet insurance.