Did you know that by age 3 most dogs show signs of dental disease? Small dogs having a high incidence of dental disease, I am always aware of taking care of the Poms teeth! We use a multi-modal approach with the Poms: different types of at-home care along with professional veterinary dental cleanings.
At-home care is the easiest, cheapest, best way to keep your dog’s teeth healthy. Daily brushing is the gold standard of dental care. My favorite product to use is Tropiclean’s Fresh Breath Oral Care Kit. It comes with a dog-safe toothbrush made to clean both sides of the teeth (very important!), dental gel and a finger toothbrush. One of the things I like about Tropiclean’s products is the simple ingredient list. Many “dog toothpastes” are full of weird ingredients and artificial sugars. All of the Poms like the Tropiclean gel and I don’t have to worry about potentially harmful ingredients! Win- win!
I know brushing your dogs teeth every day sounds like a pain in the butt. I know. Seriously though, it only takes a few minutes. It only takes a little bit of training to get your pup to accept having their teeth brushed. Make it fun, and start slow and start with treats. First give a treat for just letting you touch their mouth with the toothbrush. Eventually move to moving their lip with the brush, then brushing. Depending on this dog they could be very receptive to brushing and let you do it quickly, or they may take some time to get used to it. Be patient and make it fun!
Another product we use daily is Tropiclean’s Fresh Breath Water Additive . It’s super easy to use- you just add a cap full to their water dish daily. I find it helps loosen plaque and make brushing easier, and helps if I’m busy and feeling too lazy to brush their teeth that day!
Dental chews are an important part of at-home dental care. Dogs teeth were meant to rip and tear meat off of bones. The action of chewing helps scrub plaque off of the teeth like brushing, plus chewing has many feel-good effects for dogs. Some of our favorite chews are Whimzees. They’re all-natural, grain and gluten free and hypoallergenic. They come in a ton of different shapes and sizes. It’s hard to find a dog that doesn’t like Whimzees! Other favorites in our house are by Natural Balance . Don’t forget bones and parts! I am *not* a fan of giving cooked bones to dogs. They splinter and can cause digestive issues. Raw bones, however- LOVE THEM. For small dogs I love Vital Essentials Raw Frozen Bones and bully sticks! All of these dental treats have calories, so don’t forget to cut back on their daily food intake!
All of the Poms get yearly- or even twice yearly- dental cleanings under anesthesia. I know many people are fearful of putting their pet under anesthesia. The risks of chronic dental disease are actually higher than the risks of undergoing anesthesia when anesthesia is properly administered.
Make sure you go to a vet who does pre-anesthetic blood work (we prefer day of, in house blood work) and uses modern practices. What do I mean by that? Your dog should have an IV catheter and receive fluids during the procedure. They should be monitored by electrocardiogram, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, end tidal carbon dioxide along with TPR- temperature, pulse and respiration. Pets should also not be put on heating pads during or after anesthetic procedures! If they’re not 100% awake they cannot move away if they’re getting burned.
What about non-anesthetic procedures? Honestly, I’m not a fan. The amount of restraint they require can be very stressful for the pets, plus they cannot effectively clean under the gum line. Read more about why to opt against non-anesthetic procedures here. I know it sounds like a great alternative, but it isn’t.
Why care about your dog’s oral health? Untreated gum disease can lead to heart problems, cancer, inflammation, autoimmune disorders, diabetes mellitus, kidney and liver diseases, sepsis and more. It’s a lot easier to brush their teeth and take them for dentals than deal with those issues!
Even with tons of preventive dental care, don’t be discouraged if your dog still ends up with dental issues.
Parker has less than 20 teeth left, and that’s with dental intervention for his entire life! Small dogs are at high risk for dental disease with their tiny mouths and tiny teeth that sit on their salivary glands. But, with proper daily dental maintenance your dog can live a long, healthy life with as many teeth as possible!
*I was not paid in any way to promote any of the products I post, but we do receive a few pennies if you purchase them through the link. All monies go to paying for the Poms veterinary care!*