Dental care is important for any dog, but if you own an older dog, then you may be hesitant to take him in for a cleaning or work. Dogs can't sit still for many of the procedures, so usually anesthesia is used. This can be concerning because older dogs often have underlying health issues that could put them at risk for complications. However, there is no need to fear taking your older dog in for dental work. Here is more information on taking care of your older dog's teeth and getting the treatment he or she needs without worry.
Common Dog Dental Problems
Dogs have many of the same dental problems that plague humans. One of the most common dental problems dogs have is periodontal disease. This disease can lead to other health problems in the long run, including infections and tooth loss which could cause more problems for your senior dog. Infections can enter the bloodstream and cause even more severe issues.
Home Care For Your Dog's Teeth
Hopefully, you have been brushing your dog's teeth since he was a puppy, or your dog is used to you handling his mouth. Otherwise, you might want to get him used to regular brushing as soon as possible. This helps to reduce plaque and tarter that could lead to gum disease or tooth loss. Dental chews and toys can also help keep the teeth clean.
Professional Treatment for Dental Work
At least once a year have your dog's overall dental health examined. If you have been keeping up with your home care, then you may not need a cleaning unless it's necessary. If your dog needs a cleaning, the anesthesia is considered very safe and makes the procedures less traumatic for your dog.
Special Considerations for Older Dogs
Because older dogs often have other health complications, your veterinarian may wish to do extra tests to make sure he or she is healthy enough for the anesthesia. Blood and urine tests may be needed to rule out issues such as kidney disease, diabetes or low blood oxygen levels. The veterinarian may also prescribe medication or antibiotics before the procedure is done to reduce the chance of complications.
Taking care of your dog's teeth on regular basis means less potential dental problems down the road. Older dogs frequently have other health issues that may affect their ability to fight off bacteria that enters the bloodstream from dental infections. Make sure you have your dog's oral health checked at least once a year with regular cleanings as recommended by your animal health service.