Just like your own teeth, the care of your puppy’s teeth can play a major role in their overall health. Dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your veterinarian at CHV will examine your puppies gums and teeth at their annual exam throughout their life to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Dental cleanings are a common procedure performed at CHV and it’s often necessary to maintain your pet’s health. Often as part of a dental cleaning (dental prophylaxis) it will also be needed to extract teeth that have formed disease and pain with your pet. Some pets require more regular cleanings and some require a greater amount of extractions during their lifetime and this can be dependent both on genetics and their regular maintenance habits, again just like your own teeth. Both pet owners and the pets themselves regularly enjoy great benefits from a dental procedure that can reduce pain your pet has been hiding and also improve their breath, which is nice for everyone! We often hear our clients excited about how much more energetic or happy their pet seems after a dental.
One or multiple dental procedures is something you should anticipate for your puppy at some point, however there are some steps you can take to reduce the regularity as well as the severity. A dental procedure can cost from $375 for a basic cleaning to $775 or more if there are many extractions and complications due to developed periodontal disease. Therefore regular dental care can make a big difference in lowering the long term costs associated with your pet’s health. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Start brushing their teeth as soon as possible. 8 to 12 weeks old is best. If you brush every day or as much as possible, your pet will become familiar with the routine when their permanent teeth erupt. Please note: You may need to stop brushing while your pet is losing its baby teeth. Their mouth will be a bit sore and handling may cause more pain. Continue once all the permanent teeth come.
- Work with your pet’s mouth. Be patient and make it fun. Use love and praise and try to practice at the same time each day to establish a routine. Choose a quite time, such as late in the evening or if your pet is highly motivated by food, try just before dinner so they will be rewarded for cooperation. Be careful that they do not associate brushing with playtime or that your hand is something to be bitten and played with as that can cause some undesirable habits later.
- Handle the muzzle and touch your pet’s lips. Work up to rubbing the teeth and gums with your finger. Put a small amount of flavored toothpaste on your finger before rubbing the teeth and gums and they will begin to look forward to these sessions.
- Use a toothpaste flavored washcloth or a piece of gauze wrapped around the end of your finger to rub the teeth gently.
- Finally, use a finger brush or soft bristle handled brush to brush the teeth with pet flavored toothpaste. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and brush gently back and forth or in a circular pattern from gum to tip. Brushing the tongue side of the teeth is less critical, but still good. Offer reward and treats when your pet allows you to brush to keep it a good experience.
- Consider other dental aids. A large selection of veterinary gels, toothpastes, dental chews and oral rinses are available to you. Our veterinary team can help you select the one right for you and your pet. We do carry some of our favorites here at the clinic. These products all enhance your home care program, but daily brushing is the best (while most difficult). Avoid human toothpaste as fluoride and detergents can be harmful to your pet if swallowed. Hydrogen peroxide also can be harsh on the gums and should not be swallowed either.
- Pick kibble and rubber chew toys that will help keep the teeth clean. Avoid natural bones which are hard enough to fracture teeth. Your veterinarian can recommend a complete and balanced professional diet to use at feeding time and as a treat.