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Dental Care for Senior Dogs

Dental care is vital for your pup at any stage in their life. Ongoing care from the time they are young can prevent serious complications when they get older. Here, our Woburn vets discuss dental care for senior dogs, why it is important and offer tips for keeping your old dog's teeth clean and healthy. 

The Importance of Dental Care for Aging Pets

Older dogs need dental care as much as dogs at any other stage of life. Regular brushing, check-ups, and a balanced diet are essential for maintaining your dog's dental health in the long term.

Without proper dental care, dogs can develop plaque, which can build up into tartar and eventually lead to periodontal disease (gum disease). In this inflammatory infection, bacteria attack the gums, ligaments, and bone tissue that support the teeth. This can be painful, lead to tooth loss, and inhibit your dog’s ability to eat.

Left untreated, bacteria from the infection can enter your dog’s bloodstream and cause life-threatening complications in their vital organs.

Tips for Senior Dog Dental Care

The good news is that gum disease in dogs is entirely preventable. Here are tips for senior dog dental care:

  • Feed your dog a well-balanced, meat-based diet to ensure a healthy mouth environment and prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria.
  • Offer your dog chew toys that can clean away debris and plaque as they chew.
  • Don't allow your dog to chew on real bones, as they are hard and can break teeth.
  • Brush your dog's teeth on a daily basis.
  • Check their mouth as you brush for any signs of redness or inflammation.
  • Begin dental care early and continue with consistent veterinary dental visits as they enter old age.
  • Schedule them for routine professional dental cleanings.
  • Contact your vet for any signs of issues, such as redness, excessive drooling or smelly breath.

Home Care Practices

There are a number of things that you can do to help keep your senior dog's teeth clean while at home. One of the easiest is daily teeth brushing.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Establishing a daily routine of teeth brushing is an important part of caring for your dog's teeth, especially as they become older. Decide on a time each day that your dog seems the most relaxed, then follow these guidelines:

  • Only use toothpaste designed for dogs. Human toothpaste may contain ingredients, such as xylitol, that can harm your pooch.
  • Use a dog toothbrush. There are regular ones with a handle and bristles that are soft and angled properly for their teeth. They are also ones that go over your finger, which can be a good option for smaller dogs.
  • Sit slightly to one side facing your dog, and gently lift his lips to expose his teeth and gums.
  • Place the toothbrush on his teeth at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line.
  • Brush firmly but gently in a circular motion.
  • Brush from the front to the back on the outside of the teeth.
  • Try to get the insides of their teeth as best as possible but don't worry if you aren't able to be as thorough in this area. Your dog's tongue is designed to help clean these areas.
  • Stay calm throughout the teeth-cleaning process.
  • Offer your dog a treat or toy after you finish.

Training Your Dog to Have His Teeth Brushed

Whether you have a new puppy or a senior dog that is not used to having their teeth brushed, it's important to approach the process like any dog training – slowly, patiently, and consistently. Here are some steps to help your dog get used to this new experience:

  • Sit with your dog and lift his lips to expose his teeth and gums.
  • Gently touch your dog’s teeth and gums.
  • Dip your finger in chicken soup and rub it on your dog’s gums.
  • Wrap your finger in wet gauze and gently rub his teeth and gum line in a circular motion.
  • Introduce a dog toothbrush with dog toothpaste on it and let him taste it.
  • If your dog doesn't like the taste of the toothpaste, you can always try a different flavor!
  • When you find a toothpaste he likes, start brushing a few teeth and stop.
  • Slowly increase the number of teeth you brush in each sitting until they can manage a full brushing without issue.

Professional Dental Services in Woburn

While routine pet dental care is critical to your dog's oral and overall health, many pets don't get the oral hygiene care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

To help keep your pup's mouth clean and healthy, we provide complete dental care, from exams for your senior dog, dental cleanings and polishing, to dental X-rays and surgeries. We are also passionate about educating pet owners about pet dental health and home health dental care.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Does your senior dog need a dental exam and teeth cleaning? Contact our Woburn vets to schedule an appointment today.

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Woburn Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of your pet. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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