I grew up with many, many animals, and for a few years we had four dogs in the house. But we never had their teeth cleaned. All but one had regular veterinary care (The one that didn’t wouldn’t be seen by vets for the most part after even muzzling her didn’t turn out well. She lived to be 17 without any health problems that we knew about.). We just tossed some milkbones out and figured that was okay.
Maybe it still is okay. I am much more aware of dental issues in dogs now because my dog is of a breed that is predisposed to dental issues. After initially not cleaning his teeth for a few years, and unfortunately having to have 7 extractions, I am more in the camp that says a dog’s teeth should be checked and cleaned regularly. Conrad just had his teeth cleaned again, and got to keep all of them this time. Plus his breath smells better. He was mad at me for like two days, but it’s better than more teeth lost.
With horses, regular dental care is so important because neglected teeth can interfere with the bit, with eating, and other health problems might even be lurking in a fractured or damaged tooth (or even a malformed tooth that looks normal on visual inspection #askmehowiknow ). So my horses have always had annual or biannual dental care, which has evolved over time from un-sedated floating to heavily sedated all-out dentistry.
So why would I not do the same for dogs? Dogs and horses have very few similarities outside of being mammals and sharing a common heritage as domesticated animals whose evolution has intertwined with humans for millennia. Their diets are wildly different. Their teeth are wildly different. But both need at least some dental care, largely due to their domesticated status.
People who don’t attend to their horse’s teeth I openly scowl at, and caution against the cornucopia of problems neglected horse teeth can cause. But if you don’t get your dog’s teeth cleaned regularly, this bothers me much, much less. I am not sure why I have different attitudes about the animals, but over time opinions can change and what once seemed like a hair-brained extravagance becomes a necessity, even a welfare issue. I am interested in arguments on both sides of the canine dental care issue.
So, do you get your dog’s teeth cleaned regularly? What other dental care might you do for your dog?