Recently, we took Caesar to his Vet for his first full dental cleaning. Many people wanted to know more about our experience, so here’s what happened.
We have been brushing Caesar’s teeth since he was a puppy – about once a week if possible, although some weeks have been missed. We noticed a bit of plaque starting to build on his teeth last year and this year a bit more tartar accumulation. This of course, was pointed out to us by our Vet who sees Caesar yearly for a full check-up including blood work. So this year, we figured we should take the Vet up on her late winter/spring discount on dental care.
We had learned from her last year that dogs need to be anesthetized during this process as most will not sit still for the cleaning – let alone the “very still” for the x-rays taken to determine the health of the teeth. I re-checked with her to make sure that Caesar had had no ill-effects of anesthesia in the only other time he’s had it: his big-boy surgery!
She reviewed her notes and determined that no challenges were encountered during or after his recovery from the anesthetic. So we booked Caesar in. He was to avoid all food after midnight so we gave him a late, extra meal at about 11:30pm, then surprised him with a no-breakfast morning for all of us and a walk to the Vet’s office. Yes, he knew something was up.
We left Caesar with his Vet with false confidence for our boy and acted nonchalantly not to notice his resistance to being pulled away from us – then rushed home. I cried as I waited the grueling hours until we finally heard he was being taken in for the procedure (which would take 2-3 hours from start to coming out of anesthetic time) – thinking about him being scared and missing us… Then we rushed to the clinic again during this time to try to get a couple of pics of his first cleaning but couldn’t actually go see our baby (our Vet had warned us before that it’s not useful to have owners/parents watch the cleaning as it only stresses out the Vet themselves – but I thought she could just stop for one minute while I got pics…?) Luckily, one of the staff agreed to take some pics for me and that was sufficient for us to wait out the rest of the time at home.
Here are the pictures the staff took for us… poor little guy… but clearly getting some careful attention.
Well let me tell you that my husband and I truly rejoiced when the office called again a few hours later to let us know that Caesar was out of the anesthetic state, and recovering nicely. They were even so kind as to send this picture and message: “Hi Mom and Dad, I just wanted to let you know that I’m doing great after my dental procedure! I went out for a walk and I ate all of my food, it was delicious. I’m resting quietly in my comfy cage and I can’t wait to see you later! Love, Caesar xo”
Seven hours after we dropped him off, we were picking him up!! What a day! But before we actually got to see our baby, our Vet (Dr. Sarah) went through everything she learned – she had taken x-rays before the procedure (as she had told us she would do to determine if any teeth needed extra attention or extraction) as well as before and after pictures of the teeth to show us Caesar’s work :) What was amazing is that she had talked us through everything we could expect from this procedure and followed through with all that she had prepared us for! We had signed papers for this procedure on the day of this visit which also describes that if anything is found on x-rays every effort is made to contact us to let us know before doing anything. We could either check a box which required our consent to do anything – which would mean if she couldn’t reach us she would do nothing and we would need another anesthetic time (likely) to do any work that might be needed. OR we could check a box that allows the Vet to do whatever she finds needs work to avoid another anesthetic procedure. We checked the first box as we had taken the day off for Caesar’s visit and knew that there would be no way that the Vet’s office would not be able to reach us! Luckily, we also discovered that we brought Caesar in at what looks like perfect timing – yes, plaque and tartar needed to be removed, but there were no problems with the gum-line, no abscesses and no need for extractions!!!
I thought I’d share a few pics we got from our Vet’s office:
And yes, we got pictures and x-rays of every section of Caesar’s mouth!
So happy to see this!!
So that was our experience. I am so impressed with the way that our Vet’s office handled everything for us on this nerve-wracking day for all of us. Thank-you to North Oakville Animal Hospital for your fantastic care and service!
Below, I have shared some useful information that I found on the web through animal planet’s website – I don’t think I could have written the ideas any better! I hope you find the tips useful because I sure believe they are!
Your Dog’s Dental Health
You put a lot of thought into keeping your dog healthy: quality food, routine checkups, plenty of fitness. But what about his teeth?
Oral hygiene is an often-overlooked but important factor in your dog’s overall health. If he has a toothache or sore gums, he’s dealing with pain and stress that you may not even know about. Left untreated, bacteria introduced by the problem can enter the bloodstream and affect his heart, kidneys or liver. Veterinarians report that an estimated 85 percent of dogs over age 4 are suffering from some form of periodontal disease, a painful oral condition that can lead to tooth loss and infection. The good news? All of these problems are preventable with regular dental cleanings and professional checkups.
Like regular grooming or the daily jaunt outside, dental care should be something your dog comes to expect each day. But it won’t happen overnight; most dogs take some time getting used to someone poking around in their mouth. Most owners need to warm up to the idea, too! Ideally, introduce dental care when your pooch is still a puppy. But don’t stress if you just realized that your adult dog’s teeth need some attention. Just take a slow, patient approach, and remember that lots of love and treats go a long way in winning him over.
Most experts agree that daily brushing is ideal, but if that’s unrealistic, aim for three to four times per week. And don’t be an overachiever: If your pup’s patience only lasts for you to brush half his teeth today and the other half tomorrow, that’s fine. Just remember which half you did each day!
Unfortunately, dogs can’t care for their teeth themselves, but they can help by gnawing on the right product. A good long chew can help scrape away plaque and dirt, and most dogs are happy to comply. Natural choices include rawhide (yes, there’s a lot of controversy about these being ingested and causing blockage – so we avoid them with Caesar) or a knucklebone. Knucklebones are apparently a softer bone that’s gentler on the teeth. Experts advise not to give harder items, such as hooves or bones from steak, rib or ham shank as these can fracture teeth – but I have heard from several people that their dogs have done well with these – always remember that each dog is unique and individual and you have to work with what you feel is best for your own while being aware also of potential dangers.
Some dogs won’t bite on these natural choices, but many do enjoy chewing artificial bones or chew toys. Try a variety to see what your dog likes. Always choose rubber or nylon toys with a rough or bumpy surface, large enough so that it won’t present a choking hazard. A chew toy should be somewhat flexible, not rock hard.
Dogs love to eat, and crunchy food and chew treats can help with your overall efforts. Look for the “VOHC-approved” stamp on any dental-cleansing product, which means they meet the tooth cleaning protocols established by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. While these items won’t replace the need to brush, they can help reduce unwanted buildup.
You probably don’t want to share your toothbrush, so once you’re ready to begin brushing, get her some supplies of her own:
–Doggie toothbrush: A human toothbrush works well; choose a soft one in a size to match her mouth. Canine toothbrushes are more angled and also come in a fingertip style, which slips over the end of your finger. Choose the kind you both like.
–Canine toothpaste: It’s unlikely your dog will learn to spit, so she needs a toothpaste that’s safe to swallow. That rules out human formulas, which contain abrasives and detergent that she shouldn’t ingest. Plus, she’ll prefer the poultry or seafood options of canine toothpaste. Try to find one that has an ezymatic formula for better cleaning.
–Wipes or pads: When there’s no time for full brushing, wiping her teeth and her gum line will whisk away some bacteria and food. You can use a canine dental pad, available at most pet stores, or a simple gauze pad wrapped around your finger.
So you’ve gathered your supplies and you’re committed to forming good dental habits. Your next goal is convincing your dog.
Ready to start brushing? Don’t expect your dog to sit and open wide. He may think tooth brushing is right up there with having a bath. Depending on your dog’s age and background, it can take several days to several weeks to gain his cooperation. Don’t rush it.
First, spend some time handling his mouth. Turn your finger into a treat by dabbing something tasty on it — like peanut butter, meat baby food or nonfat yogurt. Let him lick at your finger, while you gently rub his teeth and gums. Reapply the tasty treat as needed, trying to move his lips aside to expose more of the teeth.
He’ll also need to be used to having you handle his muzzle. Gently place one hand under his lower jaw and the other on top, and rest your hands like that for a few seconds. Gradually work your way toward manipulating his mouth by parting his lips, then gently easing his jaw open.
Once he’s given everything the OK, choose a time of day that’s quiet and unhurried, then bring out the brushing gear.
To get started:
Let your dog sniff and lick the toothpaste and toothbrush.
Move your dog’s lips aside, then rub the visible teeth with either your finger or the toothbrush. A touch of toothpaste may spark his interest.
Gradually increase the number of teeth you brush, reapplying the toothpaste as needed. Remember to brush along the gum line. A circular motion works best.
Once that’s going well for a few days, try gently opening his jaw to brush the back teeth. Don’t worry if it’s too difficult to brush the inside of his teeth; with most breeds, periodontal disease is more common on the outside of teeth.
Conclude with a special reward — play, treat or affection — even if the process didn’t go well. You want your dog to form a positive association with brushing, so a happy ending this time may make him more agreeable next time.
You’ll need to take your pet to see the veterinary dentist at some point, so read on for ways to make that a smooth experience.
Whether it’s for a professional cleaning or because your dog was up all night with a toothache, make his trip to the dentist as comfortable as possible.
Start by researching which veterinary dentists are in your area. Unless it’s an emergency, ask your vet or other pet parents for their recommendations. If it’s convenient, make a dry run to let your dog say “hello” to the staff, sniff out the waiting room and sample a treat. This lets you both check out the place and helps your dog feel more agreeable about future visits.
When you set up your appointment, find out anything you’d like to know: if you’ll be able to stay with your pet, if they accept your veterinary insurance (if you have it) or any other questions on your mind. Be sure to ask if you need to follow any instructions before his visit. If he’s having a dental procedures — even a cleaning — he may be given an anesthetic, so proper preparation is important.
You may have dental anxiety, but your dog doesn’t have to know it. Your faithful companion has become a master at reading your emotions, so if you act nervous come appointment day, he’ll worry, too. Hop in the car and head to the office as you would any other fun outing. And tuck a reward in your pocket. If his teeth hurt, bring something soft like baby food or peanut butter.
During the appointment, don’t hesitate to ask questions and gather as much information as you need. If you’re uncertain about something, go home and do some research, or consider a second opinion.
Good dental care, both at home and from a professional, is a big part of keeping your dog healthy. With some patience and dedication, it can easily become a part of your lifestyle.
I do hope this information has been useful to you!