Dear Labby on Doggie Breath
Everyone says their dog has smelly breath, but what’s your opinion on dog teeth cleaning? When should the procedure be considered? Do some dogs have weak teeth/gums? I’m sure diet and lack of natural teeth cleaning options affect tooth/gum health. Does it cause bad breath in dogs? Besides having the Vet assess the health of the teeth, are there things we should monitor to determine whether the procedure is required? What are the typical signs of poor tooth health?
Thanks, Dear Labby – I LOVE reading your column, SharpTeeth
NOTE: Dear Labby is on vacation this week, stepping in for her as a guest adviser is Christy Newland, VP of Marketing from PDx BioTech.
Dear Sharp Teeth,
When it comes to a professional teeth cleaning at your veterinarian’s office, remember: Painful periodontal infection can’t be seen by looking in your dog’s mouth. 60% of the tooth structures are under the gums – making periodontal disease impossible to detect in an awake exam by your vet. In addition, new unpublished research shows that 22% of puppies under the age of one already experience bone loss; and that number goes up to 53% at age two, and then 85% by age three. (*Upcoming Proceedings of the 27th Annual Veterinary Dental Forum, New Orleans, LA, October, 2013.)
That means that healthy-looking, sparkling teeth often disguise painful periodontal disease lurking under the gums. And unfortunately, by the time you see the signs of periodontal disease (inflamed, bleeding gums) or worse, smell that “doggie breath,” the disease has already progressed to the point that it can be irreversible. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to bone and tooth loss, heart, liver and kidney disease, shortening your pet’s life expectancy.
What’s a loving pet parent to do? First, talk to your veterinarian, and find out how often she thinks you should have that anesthetized dental cleaning. Many dog owners are afraid of that anesthetized cleaning – but the dangers of not having the procedure far outweigh the incidence of harm caused by anesthesia. Ask your vet to explain her anesthesia procedure to you. Knowledge is power.
Second, there is now a diagnostic test called OraStrip® QuickCheck Canine that actually detects periodontal disease in the exam room with objective results, so that you can find out if your dog has this serious and widely-prevalent disease. You can visit www.yourpetsoralhealth.com for more information about OraStrip®.
How about you – what shape our your dogs teeth in? Do you have any additional advice for Sharp Teeth?
Next week Labby is back and answers a readers question about living with and working with a fearful dog.