Don’t Let Dental Care Be a Pain in the Mouth!

“Five teeth? Are you kidding me?!”

My husband confirmed the bad news. Sadie-Bad-Baby, the world’s most unusual looking dog (well, we think so) had gone to the vet for what I thought was a routine dental cleaning and a single extraction. After my husband picked her up, he called to report that Sadie was going to be in pain for a couple of days after five teeth were removed. To top it off, her gums were “not in good shape,” according to our vet.

I felt ashamed. Here I am, working at a company that promotes animal health and well-being, and makes a top line of dental care products, and my 35 lb. terrier mix had come out the worse for wear. I obviously “fail” at pet parenting.

So, what to do?

First, I need to re-examine the dental care of all three of my dogs. All are seniors, and all need at least a yearly dental exam when they go in for routine vaccinations. (In hindsight, I should have been more diligent from the beginning: 80 percent of pets show symptoms of oral disease by the age of 3.)

Pepper and Sammie were examined at the same time as Sadie-Bad-Baby. Pepper, who we adopted at age 10 from the local humane society, had her teeth cleaned prior to adoption, so her teeth and gums passed with flying colors. However, Sammie, our oldest boy, will need his teeth cleaned. That means undergoing anesthesia, which is riskier as dogs get older.

There may be an easier solution. If I adopt a dental “regimen” for my dogs, I could help prevent a painful visit for any of the three next time. That includes avoiding soft foods where possible; providing dental treats that help scrape off plaque and prevent the build-up of tartar; and teaching my dogs to accept a daily brushing.

Fortunately, the tools are easily at hand. SENTRY Petrodex makes a full line of dental toothbrushes, finger toothbrushes, and dog (and cat) toothpastes. There’s even the SENTRY Petrodex Filled Dental Bones for Dogs, which are an easy way to keep teeth clean, breath fresh and make dental care a treat for your dog! You can teach an old dog new tricks (and an old dog owner), so it will just take some time and patience to accustom my dogs to the unfamiliar sensation and taste.

If you have a puppy or a younger dog, get them used to the process early. Many of my fellow bloggers report that the routine, once established, requires just a few minutes each day.

Taking better care of my dogs’ teeth and gums doesn’t only mean that their breath will smell better and the next vet visit will be more pleasant, it also means that the time spent on daily dental care could lead to a longer, healthier life. Some studies show that a healthy mouth could increase their life expectancy by up to two more years. Those extra few minutes each day could add up to 730 extra days of wags, wiggles and dog-kisses. That’s a small price to pay in my book!

-Photo Credit: From flickr by Suzi McGregor

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