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Proper Dental Care for Dogs

From routine checkups to food quality management, we go to great lengths to ensure our dogs live happy and healthy lives. But what many of us neglect is oral hygiene. Dental health, however, plays a significant role in our pet’s overall health. To identify early signs of an issue, the team at TLC for Pets Veterinary Hospital of Reisterstown recommends a check at least once a year, along with a home maintenance program. 

Why Dental Health is Important

Studies indicate that almost 85% of dogs over the age 4 experience pain from some form of periodontal disease. If left untreated, this condition can lead to infection or tooth loss. A routine dental care program is important for a multitude of other reasons including:

  • Periodontal disease leads to heart and other organ problems

  • Improper dental care can lead to gum irritation, tartar buildup, painful tooth loss, and halitosis

  • Dogs frequently hide their pain - regular dental checkups uncover issues before they become serious

  • Teeth wear out, causing significant pain unless properly managed

What Can I do at Home for My Pet’s Oral Health?

As with our own bodies, a preventative plan minimizes medical issues and should be a combination of at-home and veterinary care. In between regular checkups at the veterinarian, there are a number of things you can do at home:

  • Brush their teeth at least several times per week

  • Introduce a special diet that promotes periodontal health 

  • Offer Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved chew treats; avoid treats that can cause damage (e.g. bones, pig’s ears, cow hooves)

Early Signs of Poor Oral Health 

If you observe any of the following problems, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible:

  • Change in behavior; reduced appetite

  • Abnormal chewing or drooling

  • Swelling 

  • Bleeding

  • Discolored teeth

  • Loose or broken teeth

  • Retained baby teeth; extra teeth

  • Bad breath