Does Your Dog Need Dental Cleaning?

3-5 Minutes to Read

December 22, 2023

You've probably heard that dogs don't need dental care because they naturally keep their teeth clean by chewing. However, this isn't entirely true. As much as we love our canine friends, they need our help to maintain their dental health.

Most dog owners have likely heard their vet recommend dental cleaning for their pets. This advice isn’t just a suggestion; it's an essential aspect of a dog's overall health care regimen that is often overlooked.

A good rule of thumb is to have your dog's teeth cleaned by a licensed veterinary dentist at least once a year. At Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital, we want to help you understand dental care for your dog, how often they need cleaning, and why it’s so important.

Understanding these aspects will help make sure that your furry friend enjoys both a happy smile and a healthy life.

What You Should Know About Dental Care for Dogs

When your veterinarian emphasizes the importance of dental cleaning for your beloved canine companion, it extends beyond addressing the issue of bad breath.

Dental hygiene plays a pivotal role in your dog's overall health, and neglecting it can lead to a range of medical problems.

Common dental issues in dogs include gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth loss, infections, and difficulty eating. Just like with humans, plaque accumulates on canine teeth over time. This buildup can lead to gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, characterized by red, inflamed gums that bleed easily and foul breath.

If left unattended, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more severe condition that not only affects the connective tissues around the teeth but can also damage the underlying bone. However, the most concerning aspect of periodontitis is its potential to harm your dog's heart, kidneys, and liver.  

How Often Does My Dog Need Teeth Cleaning

Signs of Dental Health Problems in Dogs

Keeping an eye on your dog's dental health is crucial to ensure their overall well-being. There are several signs and symptoms that can serve as red flags, indicating that your furry friend may be experiencing dental problems that require immediate veterinary attention. 

If you observe any of the following symptoms, it's essential to contact your vet and schedule a dental check-up for your beloved canine companion: 

  • Bad Breath: Unpleasant breath odor can be an early sign of dental issues in dogs.
  • Loose, Broken, or Decayed Teeth: Any visible damage to the teeth should be promptly addressed.
  • Abnormal Tooth Growth: Extra or retained baby teeth can signal dental concerns.
  • Discolored Teeth: Brown or yellow discoloration may indicate problems.
  • Tartar Buildup: Visible tartar accumulation on teeth is a clear indicator of dental care needs.
  • Excessive Drooling: Abnormal drooling can point to oral discomfort.
  • Difficulty Eating: Chewing difficulties or dropping food from the mouth are concerning signs.
  • Reduced Appetite: A sudden loss of interest in food may be related to dental pain.
  • Mouth Pain: Signs of discomfort, like pawing at the mouth or whining, should not be ignored.
  • Bleeding or Swelling: Any bleeding or swelling around the mouth area is a cause for concern.

Additionally, poor dental health in dogs can manifest in other ways, such as a lack of energy, weight loss, changes in temperament, and reluctance to engage in play.

Being vigilant about these symptoms can help you address dental issues promptly, ensuring your canine companion's continued health and happiness.

What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?

Understanding the dental procedure that your dog will undergo is essential for your peace of mind. Since most dental treatments require general anesthesia, your veterinarian will take several precautions to ensure your pet's safety throughout the process.

Before the dental procedure begins, your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination of your dog. Depending on your dog's age and health status, your vet may recommend blood work to assess the functionality of vital organs like the liver and kidneys, ensuring they can effectively process anesthetic agents.

Assuming the blood work and other diagnostic assessments yield positive results, your dog will be prepared for the dental cleaning. The procedure typically involves the following steps: 

  • 1 IV Catheter Placement: An intravenous (IV) catheter is inserted to provide access for administering fluids and medications.
  • 2 Pre-Anesthetic Medication: Your dog will receive a pre-anesthetic dose to induce relaxation and reduce anxiety.
  • 3 Induction: Your dog will be placed under general anesthesia, ensuring they are unconscious and pain-free during the procedure. Monitoring vital signs is a priority, including blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart function, body temperature, and other cardio-respiratory values.
  • 4 Oral Examination: Just like human dentists, your veterinarian will perform a thorough oral examination, checking for dental issues.
  • 5 Mouth Radiographs: In some cases, mouth radiographs (X-rays) may be taken to assess dental health more comprehensively.

After the dental cleaning, your veterinarian will gently wake up your dog and monitor them during the recovery period.

Typically, dental procedures are performed in the morning, and your furry companion can return home later. These measures ensure your dog's dental health is maintained with the utmost care and safety. 

How Often Does a Dog Need a Dental Cleaning?

Ensuring your dog's dental health is vital for their overall well-being. Most veterinary dentists recommend scheduling dental cleanings for your furry friend once a year.

However, the frequency of these cleanings can vary depending on factors like your dog's breed and existing health conditions.

Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Annual Cleaning: Larger dog breeds often require dental cleanings once a year, although in some cases, less frequent cleanings may suffice.
  • Biannual Cleaning: Smaller dog breeds may benefit from dental cleanings twice a year to prevent dental issues like tooth loss.

It's crucial to pay attention to your pet's oral health and act promptly if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Discolored or Broken Teeth: Dental issues may manifest as discolored or broken teeth.
  • Excessive Bad Breath: Persistent bad breath can be a sign of underlying dental problems.
  • Reduced Appetite: If your dog experiences a reduced appetite, it may be linked to dental discomfort.
  • Bloody Drool: The presence of bloody drool is a concerning symptom that warrants immediate attention.

If you're unsure about your pet's specific dental needs, consider scheduling a dog dental check-up with your veterinarian. Many veterinarians are willing to perform a quick assessment of your dog's teeth during a regular visit.

However, a separate appointment may be necessary for a thorough cleaning if recommended by your vet. Prioritizing your dog's dental health can contribute to their happiness and well-being. 

Where Should You Get Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned?

The great news is that arranging a professional dental cleaning for your dog is as simple as scheduling an appointment with Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital. Here, we're committed to making this essential aspect of pet care accessible and stress-free for both you and your furry companion. 

Your dog's journey to better dental health begins with a thorough consultation and examination. Our experienced veterinary team assesses your pet's oral health to identify any underlying issues.

Our veterinary professionals are highly skilled in performing dental cleanings and treatments. We use state-of-the-art equipment and follow best practices to ensure your dog receives the highest quality care.

We believe that a healthy smile leads to a happy dog. Don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with us to give your furry friend the gift of excellent dental health. Your pet's well-being is our top priority, and we're here to support you every step of the way.