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Wellness Care for Your Best Friend
Wellness Care for Your Best Friend

4 Tips for Adopting a Senior Dog With Bad Teeth

A Dog
Adopting an older dog is a wonderful thing to do. You're giving a deserving pup the gift of a happy home during his golden years. Senior dogs tend to have lower energy and are a bit easier to handle than very young dogs. Unfortunately, older dogs can also come with health problems, including teeth that were neglected by their previous owners.

Untreated dental issues like cracked teeth or inflamed gums can be very painful for dogs. These issues can also lead to other health problems, including kidney or heart disease. For these reasons, you should quickly take action after adopting your dog. Here are a few tips for adopting a senior dog with bad teeth.

Have a Comprehensive Health Exam

Before you schedule any serious dental work, have a comprehensive health exam performed on your dog. This will include an evaluation of your dog's teeth, so you and your vet can come up with the best course of action for cleaning and fixing them.

Your vet will most likely prescribe antibiotics at this stage to calm down any infections in your dog's mouth before they perform any dental work. Your vet will also perform blood work and possibly urinalysis, which serve a couple of purposes. These tests will show if your dog has other health issues and will also show if your dog is healthy enough for anesthesia during a dental cleaning. 

Schedule a Cleaning if Possible

If your dog's blood work comes back clear, schedule a dental cleaning. If your dog is generally in good health, the vet will sedate them in order to fully clean their teeth, scrape away tartar, and perform extractions if there are broken or infected teeth that need to be removed for your dog's overall health.

Your dog will most likely be given pain medication at the vet, as well as prescription medication to take at home to keep them comfortable after their cleaning. Pill pockets, which are dog treats with a pocket inside to hide a pill, are great to have on hand for this purpose.

If your dog is not healthy enough to have anesthesia, your vet can recommend less thorough alternatives, such as a cleaning with only light sedation.

Plan for At-Home Dental Care

Once your dog's teeth have been professionally cleaned and any problematic teeth have been removed, make plans for at-home dental care. While you should never use human toothpaste on a dog, toothpaste made for dogs is designed to be safe as well as tasty enough for them to want you to brush their teeth.

A finger brush is usually easier than a regular toothbrush. You apply the toothpaste to the tip of the finger brush and then rub it onto the dog's teeth. Periodontal powder that you add to your dog's food can also prevent tartar buildup, especially with dogs who are unwilling to have their teeth brushed.

Modify Your Dog's Diet

Be sure to feed your dog high-quality dog food with few additives and fillers. While kibble can help naturally clean your dog's teeth, it may become too difficult to chew after your dog has had teeth extracted. One option is to moisten their kibble slightly with warm water or chicken broth, which has the added bonus of making their food more appealing.

When in doubt, ask your vet for recommendations on dog food that will meet your dog's health needs without hurting their mouth at all.

Choosing an experienced and compassionate veterinary office and following these tips will help ensure that your senior dog's teeth are taken care of the best way possible. Soon your dog's oral health and perhaps their overall health will improve.