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Caring For Senior Dogs: Dental Care

Dental care is important for all pets, but especially for senior pets. Dental disease can cause unnecessary pain for your dog and can also have adverse effects on the heart, liver, and kidneys.

The good news is that with regular care, you can keep your dog’s teeth, gums and mouth healthy. Here’s how:

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth at Home

Brushing your dog’s teeth is the “gold standard” of dental home care. There are a number of different options that you can use to brush your dog’s teeth. Long handled toothbrushes made specifically for dogs are available as are finger brushes. Use a toothpaste made specifically for pets. Do not use your own toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth.

Schedule Annual Teeth Cleanings With Your Vet

As a pet parent to a senior dog, you should visit your vet at least twice a year, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). When you do, your veterinarian will typically inspect your dog’s teeth, mouth and gums. A thorough veterinary dental examination is best completed under an anesthetic. This will allow your veterinarian to properly clean your dog’s teeth both below and above the gum line. Your veterinarian will also check each individual tooth for signs of disease and, in many cases, even take dental radiographs (x-rays). Your dog’s teeth will also be polished to restore a smooth surface to the teeth.

Give Your Dog Chew Toys

The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that pet owners give their dogs chew toys to help with dental care. “Provide chew toys that help massage your pet’s gums and keep their teeth clean,” AAHA’s dental care guidelines suggest.

Be Aware of the Signs of Dental Disease

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pet owners should be on the lookout for signs that dental disease might already be present. If you notice any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with your vet immediately.

  • Bad breath – Most pets have breath that is less than fresh, but if it becomes truly repugnant, that’s a sign that periodontal disease has already started.
  • Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth.
  • Reluctance to eat hard foods.
  • Red swollen gums and brownish teeth.

Good dental care can make a big difference in your senior dog’s health and comfort so don’t hesitate…start your dog’s healthy mouth regimen today!


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