Health & Nutrition

Dental Health

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shutterstock_223006726Going to the dentist is a part of life for many growing up these days.  Having dental work whether it be cleanings, braces, crowns, wisdom teeth extraction, etc. is a norm in today’s society.  What many people don’t understand is how healthy teeth are connected to our overall health, same for your schnauzer.

 

Routine Cleanings

Just like in people, all dogs have different teeth; some are more prone to tartar, some more prone to cavities, enamel wear, cracking and more.  You need to treat your schnauzer’s dental health just as serious as their routine vaccinations.  If you have never gotten your pet a dental before, let me tell you a little bit about it.  You take your pet to your veterinarian and as they are doing their routine physical exam, they take a look at their mouth to assess the tartar buildup.  If they mention your dog could do with a dental, then I would take their advice.  You will bring your pet in on another predetermined day, they will anesthetize them and clean their teeth; they get scaling and polishing just like in people.  If there are any loose or damaged teeth, they will be extracted for your pets benefit.  While putting them under anesthesia gives many pet parents anxiety, talk to your veterinarian and ask them about their techniques.  Most practices have great monitoring equipment, 1 person cleaning, and another close by to give assistance if needed.  Your veterinary team will be more than happy to put your worries at ease.

There are some veterinarians, or services that go through veterinarians, to offer anesthesia free dentals.  Many of these services make you have a pre-dental exam to see if your pet qualifies.  Do not be offended if they say your pet is not a candidate.  These services do not offer sedation, the dog is completely awake and it feels and sounds like what you would experience at your own dentist.  Luckily for people, we can communicate in the same language to our dentist and when they tell us to open our mouths or turn our heads, we comply.  However, even though you think your pup is the absolute best in the world, and they just might be, but they might only be good for you.  They might not appreciate a stranger holding their mouth open and doing weird things inside.  Another reason your pet may not qualify, if there is any type of dental disease, loose or broken teeth, your pet will have to be anesthetized for a dental for their comfort.  So if your pet doesn’t qualify, it is not personal, it does not mean your dog is naughty; it just means they will benefit from a deeper cleaning.

Cleanings can be done as frequently as you want them, but many vets suggest every 6 months or so.  Others recommend yearly or maybe even longer; it all depends on your dog’s teeth.  Just keep in mind, if your vet says your dog needs one, it is probably time.

Things You Can Do At Home

There are multiple options for at home dental health too.  You can brush your dog’s teeth daily, weekly, whatever they will tolerate.  Some do great with it right away, but don’t worry if your dog isn’t open to it at first; you are sticking something new and weird into their mouth and they are just a little suspicious, I don’t blame them.  Start out slow; get a toddler toothbrush first of all so it is small enough to fit into their mouth.  Then put something super delicious on the toothbrush: peanut butter, cheese, whatever they like…don’t brush their teeth with it, but just let them lick the toothbrush and see that it isn’t all that scary.  As they become more comfortable with it, move it around, try sticking it in their cheek and so on, they will get the idea.  Be patient, don’t rush it, but at the same time, don’t be afraid…once they discover it isn’t going to bite them, they will become more compliant.  There are special pet specific toothpastes you can purchase, DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE IT IS TOXIC to pets.

If brushing their teeth isn’t your thing or they just aren’t cooperating, there are also food additives you can sprinkle on their food to fight the tartar and prevent more from forming.  There are also treats that are good for dental tartar.  Talk to your veterinarian which one is best for your pet.

Another good tip I learned about avoiding dental tartar, wet your dog’s dry food and let it soak for about 30 minutes before giving it to your pet.  You see, dog’s ancestors were natural carnivores that bit off a piece of meat that is juicy and wet and swallowed it whole.  Today, we offer these crunchy bits that are found nowhere in nature.  This leads to your dog chewing them, getting pieces stuck between their teeth and cheeks which lead to a buildup of dental tartar.  If you soak your dogs food in water, it will become soft enough for them to swallow whole and not have to chew it which will prevent it getting stuck in their mouths and forming tartar.

By doing one, two or all of these things at home, it will reduce the number of dental cleanings your dog will need.  This will not only keep your pet healthy, it will reduce the times they have to go under anesthesia, and it will be easier on your bank account—something we all want!

Health Concerns

Dental disease is bad for your pets overall health.  Many common symptoms in addition to dental tartar buildup is inflammation of the gums, terrible breath, rotten teeth, and the bacteria from the dental tartar will get into the bloodstream and cause your dog to become even sicker.

I’ll be honest, dentals can be expensive, but if you aren’t proactive for your beloved pet’s health, you are going to regret it once you have hundreds of dollars in hospital bills of things you could have prevented.  It doesn’t matter if your pet is young, old, or in between, it is never too late to start dental care.

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