Weenie Wednesday: Canine Dental Care

rosegold

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?

31 thoughts on “Weenie Wednesday: Canine Dental Care

  1. You’d think I’d brush my dog’s teeth regularly due to the fact I was a vet tech (who am I kidding
    … once a vet tech always a vet tech). But… I don’t. But he does go to the vet regularly and I keep an eye out for gingivitis. Brantley sees a dentist every 6 months because he was so behind the 8-ball when I got him. Hopefully that will change after his appointment in March.

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  2. Our vet started encouraging us to get the dogs dental exams a couple of years ago. Our old (somewhere between 8-15 years old, who knows) mutt had to have 4 teeth removed in 2014, and had to have 2 teeth removed this year. The dachshund/corgi (6 years old) hasn’t had any teeth removed and always gets a clean bill of health. (You know, after she had to have two blood transfusions last summer. Sigh.)

    I didn’t know dog dental exams were a thing prior to this, and while I’m glad my dogs are presumably living their best lives, my wallet never looks forward to dental day.

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  3. Dogs’ oral health can be genetic – some dogs just have better/worse teeth than others. Some will never need to have their teeth cleaned, some need dentals every year. I don’t have my dog’s teeth cleaned ‘regularly’ per se, but he has had a dental done once because during his annual exam my vet noticed the development of gingivitis, which can cause a lot of issues. I’ll continue to keep an eye on his teeth and get him cleanings as needed, but I agree with you that dental maintenance isn’t always 100% necessary for every dog.

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  4. Dogs, like horses, vary so much in how much dental care they need. Our Westie, Roxy, turns 10 this year and has never needed a cleaning or had bad breath. Juneau the Wheaten is 3 and I’d guess will probably need her first cleaning next year. Our last wheaten Reilly had disgusting teeth and many cleanings throughout his life until he got too old and feeble to handle being put under then we just dealt with it. His teeth never seemed to bother him but man his breath could be horrendous!
    I do try to give them dental chews somewhat regularly and only feed hard food to help keep teeth clean but I can’t say I ever intend to brush their teeth.

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  5. I have never really considered dental work on Thule. She filed her canines down pretty good with an old frisbee (we switched to something softer when we noticed) but it doesn’t seem to keep her from eating so I never worried about it. Both dog get regular check ups and the vet did mention that Thule’s filed teeth may present issues later, and that Reef had excellent, clean teeth (which is surprising because his breath is AWFUL) and was probably younger than we thought.
    As of now, my plan is to continue with regular vet check ups and then go from there if the vet thinks either needs dental work. Hopefully not.

    Although…I have heard an ad on the radio a couple times about an additive to their water that is supposed to help keep teeth clean and breath fresh, but I am not sure how well that would really work.

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  6. Honestly I practically ignore my dog’s feeth. They get good quality bones on occasion, and I had my late Boston Terrier’s teeth done once in her last years but neither Eliot nor Pascale have had any work. I’ll be curious how they age with their teeth, because unlike BT they actually had good care their entire lives.

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    • I do kind of wonder if there’s a difference in the level of dental care needed for smaller dogs v. larger dogs. The dogs I had growing up were all big, like Eliot and Pascale, and never seemed to have issues.

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  7. I agree! I’m a vet tech and used to do a LOT of dentals on dogs and cats and good health care is so important. I’m fortunate to have breeds/breed mixes with great teeth, but agree that for smaller dogs and certain breeds it can become really problematic!

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  8. Tank, my chihuahua, had about $900 of vet care just related to his teeth last fall. My other two dogs have not had any work done and have pretty decent teeth. The vet looks over them at all of their exams and has not suggested a cleaning yet.

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  9. I feel like there is a difference in breeds and styles. The family dogs growing up were a Scottie and a Lab. The lab lived to 14.5 years old with very minimal dental work/cleaning, but the scottie (still alive at 11) seems to be a lot more prone to dental issues.
    I currently have a (almost) 2-year old Llewellin Setter with wonderful teeth. The vet checks her teeth during her annual exam/shots and as long as she’s happy with them I am too. She chews bones and antlers regularly and has crunchy, hard dog food.

    My horses have all gotten at least yearly dental work and I had one get it twice a year.

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  10. I didn’t realize it was a thing that dogs should get done regularly until I worked at a vet clinic. Again I think it depends on breed mainly. Unfortunately, bf’s hound dog doesn’t have the *best* teeth, but he doesn’t see it as a priority to get them cleaned. I’m just throwing greenies at her hoping for the best until I break down and pay for it myself. I’m doing as much preventative care as I can with the pup though. I also had a roomate that did the dental water thing. Idk if it worked but he had clean teeth

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