Dental health is a major concern for our pets, especially as they grow older. Gum disease and tartar build-up can lead to a host of serious health problems from bone loss to heart disease. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help.
Looking for advice on how to keep your pet’s chompers clean and healthy? Our vethelpline® experts are here to answer the tough questions.*
Member concern: Growing pains
Our mixed-breed pup Ginny started losing her baby teeth recently. She normally eats dry kibble, but lately she’s taking longer to chew (and isn't finishing most of the time). Ginny is otherwise acting normal and has good energy. Should we offer her some wet food for now?
Ginny's mouth may be sore from losing her puppy teeth, and the changes from her adult teeth coming in. For the time being, you likely don’t need to change her diet at all—try soaking her kibble in warm water or warm low-sodium chicken broth to see if that helps. If not, try feeding a canned or wet food from the same brand as her kibble to minimize the disruption in her diet.
Member concern: Teething troubles
Beatrice, our little Aussie pup, is scheduled for her spay procedure this weekend. We noticed that her adult upper canine teeth are erupting, but the supernumerary teeth are not loose or falling out. Is that normal?
Retained baby teeth is a common occurrence—especially with miniature and toy breeds—and they often require extraction if the adult tooth is erupting.
Please make your veterinary surgeon aware prior to Beatrice's spay procedure so they can assess whether these baby teeth require extraction while she is under anesthesia. If so, you may want to have canned food available for the day she comes home from surgery, just in case she is experiencing any soreness or discomfort.
Member concern: Excessive extractions?
Wallace's veterinarian recommended a dental cleaning with up to 10 estimated tooth extractions—I’m worried that this might be excessive? I’m also concerned that anesthesia is a potential risk factor at his age (Wallace is turning ten next month).
Wallace has dental cleanings annually, the last being in October. Should we seek a second opinion from another vet?
Small dogs are prone to developing dental disease that requires tooth extraction as they get older. The concern with leaving teeth in place that are infected or damaged is the risk for systemic bloodstream infection or pathologic jaw fractures from bone lysis due to infection.
That said, estimated dental extractions are just that—estimations. Until Wallace's teeth are clean and X-rayed, your vet will not have a definite inventory of the teeth that need removal. You should confirm with them that X-rays will be performed prior to extracting any teeth that are not otherwise loose or falling out on their own. You may also request that they call you once x-rays are obtained to discuss the extraction plan, so you may authorize and be aware of the plan.
*Pets’ names have been changed
vethelpline® experts are not a substitute for your veterinarian. They cannot prescribe or authorize refills of medications, treat, or diagnose your pet’s condition.
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