Retrievers: Tending to Teeth | Ducks Unlimited


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Retrievers with dental disease are unable to perform at their best. He may be experiencing some pain, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, said Dr. Jesse Waldvogel of Bennon Animal Hospital in Ashwagan, Wisconsin. She points out that plaque, which is composed of bacteria, salivary proteins and food particles, is the precursor to tartar. “As tartar accumulates on the teeth, it eventually spreads to the gum line, causing inflammation and gingivitis. If left untreated, the tissue Pockets form in the mouth, bacteria invade, the attachment weakens, and the tooth eventually falls out. If left unaddressed, these oral infections can spread to the kidneys, liver, heart, and in rare cases, the brain. Dogs are particularly susceptible.

Often, the first sign that something is wrong is a change in your dog's breathing. “As plaque and tartar build up,” Waldvogel points out, “they begin to release sulfate compounds, which create a 'rotten egg' smell. Obviously, you shouldn't expect your dog's breath to smell like that. Minty, but if it smells noticeably unpleasant, it's a sign that it needs a veterinary check-up.

The second thing owners tend to notice is the presence of blood. “You may see it in your dog's water dish, chew toys, or even in the gums themselves,” Waldvogel continued. “This is another telltale sign that your dog has dental disease and needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian.”

In these cases, the usual recommendation is to schedule a complete dental cleaning, often referred to simply as a “dental”. Although the details of the procedure vary based on the severity of the clinical presentation, generally it involves the removal of plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and below the gum line. At the same time, the veterinarian will explore the entire mouth to check for other problems and treat it accordingly.

This all happens while the animal is under anesthesia. “Anesthetizing a dog allows us to take a closer look at the entire mouth and understand what's going on inside, which is difficult to do when the dog is awake,” Waldvogel noted. “Dogs don't floss, so you can easily find all kinds of things getting stuck in their teeth.”

Dental bills without complications, which typically range from $500 to $1,000, can be another sticking point. “My response to this,” says Waldvogel, “is that getting a dental checkup promptly—before problems arise—will save you money in the long run. If you let it go and your dog needs With oral surgery, you'll likely end up paying twice as much as “basic” dental costs. If you get basic dental treatment done, your dog may not need another dental procedure for three to five years.

There are some things you can do to promote your dog's dental health, the most effective of which is brushing. Your veterinarian can show you how, and you'll need to do it at least twice a week to see noticeable results. Use toothpaste specially formulated for dogs. Many toothpastes for humans contain an ingredient called xylitol, which can be fatal to dogs. Most brands of toothpaste contain fluoride, which is also toxic to dogs.

Not every owner has the discipline needed to brush their dog's teeth, and not every dog ​​can tolerate the process. Over-the-counter chewable tablets can help slow the build-up of plaque and tartar (look for products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council), but they are not a replacement for regular dental cleanings.

What about feeding your dog beef marrow, antler flakes, or similar hard, non-splintering items? Waldvogel admits that dogs who regularly chew on these objects often have great looking teeth. The trade-off is an increased incidence of tooth fractures.

This brings up the final and crucial point. “The canine teeth are huge,” Waldvogel said. “The roots go deep into the nasal cavity. So if there’s rot, pocketing, and infection, it can have a negative impact on the sense of smell—and that’s huge for a hunting dog.



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