If you’re like most dog owners, you probably consider your pup to be a part of the family. As such, you’ll want to make sure they live the good life. But while you probably feed them high-quality food, make sure they get enough exercise, and ensure their environment is clean and safe, there might be an aspect of their personal health you’ve gotten about: their dental care. For many owners, doggy dental care may seem like a bit of an afterthought. But if you don’t properly take care of your dog’s teeth and gums, you may actually end up having a veterinary emergency on your hands. Poor oral health (in both dogs and humans!) can result in a host of other serious problems. To show you why pet dental care is so important, we’re answering some FAQs that emergency vets are often asked.
How many teeth should my dog have?
It actually depends on how old they are! Puppies start out with 28 baby teeth. But by the time they reach six months of age, their baby teeth fall out and they’ll end up with 42 adult teeth. Owners may find their pups’ teeth when they fall out (sometimes, their chewing and playing will cause this to happen naturally), but other times, you may never find them. However, sometimes baby teeth don’t fall out on their own. This can lead to issues when permanent teeth erupt underneath them. These issues can include gum irritation and tartar development, among other things. Some animal hospitals will remove any baby teeth that have not fallen out on their own when a pet is spayed or neutered to ensure these issues do not persist and cause the animal more pain.
Do I really need to worry about my dog’s dental care?
In a word, yes. Some owners are inclined to believe that their animals don’t need extra dental care, but this is totally false. Your dog counts on you to provide the care they need. With any luck, your pup won’t need a lot of oral treatments, but that doesn’t mean you’re free to forgo the entire process. When you first get your dog, you should talk to your vet about a home dental care program and follow their recommendations. A misaligned bite, gum irritation, and other issues can severely impact your dog’s comfort and even their ability to eat, so you need to be on the lookout for problems to avoid a veterinary emergency. You should talk to your vet about brushing at home with doggy toothpaste. If your dog is three years old or older, you may want to ask your vet about scheduling a dental cleaning. Be advised that these cleanings do involve anesthesia, so you should weigh your options with your vet and assess whether it’s necessary before proceeding.
What are some signs of dental problems in dogs?
Because our pets can’t speak our language, it can be tough to know when they’re having a problem or are in pain. But by being observant, you may be able to spot the signs of dental problems in your dog. Bad breath may be a red flag for many pups. You can examine further by gently lifting up your dog’s lips to check for gum inflammation, missing or broken teeth, and/or tartar build-up. Although these aren’t inherently signs of a pet emergency, you should still call your vet to deal with them as soon as possible. When a dog is reluctant to eat or play or has bleeding gums, you should treat this as a veterinary emergency and head to your local animal hospital right away to get a diagnosis and begin treatment.
What are the risks associated with poor canine dental care?
With both cats and people, poor oral health can lead to a number of serious issues. For example, a tooth or gum infection can spread to your dog’s kidneys, heart, intestine, or joints. You may be able to prevent these problems by assisting with your dog’s oral health and not ignoring a true veterinary emergency.
If you don’t have an oral health plan for your dog or they’re showing signs of illness, contact your vet right away.