Senior Pets Deserve Oral Care Too!

Written by Allison Burgess, Clinic Manager
McLean Animal Hospital, Scarborough, ON

It took me several professional dentals for my dogs and many years to realize my senior dogs deserve proper oral care too!  Now my dogs, who are13 years of age are finally getting their teeth brushed everyday. Okay, well one of my two dogs are, unfortunately my female Buffy has only 4 teeth left after many extractions over a few dentals.  I didn’t realize just how important it was to maintain the wonderful work the doctors and techs at McLcan Animal Hospital had done each dentistry!

My doggies are little ones who are prone to more severe dental disease then some.  Reason being is, small dogs generally have worse dental disease as there are 42 teeth in that little mouth. Often there is crowding and food stays between the teeth.  In addition, my little ones have lots of fur around their mouth which leads to build up.  In particular to my two, they are genetically predisposed to periodontal disease.  In a way, it was bred into them.  This means if I do not stay on top of their teeth cleaning daily (at any age!) then they will suffer severe dental disease time and time again.

Bad breath should not be tolerated by us in our older dogs or cats. It is not okay that our older pet has yucky teeth or bad breath. I thank my workplace McLean Animal Hospital for all the education and letting me know my dogs were not too old for new oral care!

Recently, my 13 year old Silky Terrier “Jasper” was swallowing often. I know from working at a veterinary clinic that this can be a sign of nausea. I had him checked out by Dr. Eva Chung who noticed Jasper’s teeth were quite full of tartar and in fact his lymph node on one side was swollen. At Dr.Chung’s recommendation, we aspirated the lymph node and thankfully there was nothing bad found in the test.  This meant that Jasper’s lymph node was swollen due to dental disease and needed a dental scale, polish with possible extractions under anesthetic.  The truth is, if I had maintained his teeth after his last dentistry a couple of years ago this would not have happened. I took for granted that we did a dental at age 11 and that would be enough.  However, since plaque starts to form on the teeth only minutes after a dentistry is done; just like after we brush our teeth or are at our dentist), Jasper needed daily oral care.  There was no excuse for me not to do so, there are so many options.

If brushing daily is not possible (which is option #1), there are prescription dental diets such as Royal Canin dental or even something as simple as a daily water additive such as the all natural Healthy Mouth product.  I was under the false impression that Jasper was too old to start brushing his teeth or adding something new to his water.  This doesn’t make sense at all!  If I am going to invest in a dental for Jasper and put him through the surgery, then he deserves daily oral care after.

Thus at age 13, just a couple of months ago, Jasper had another dental.  This I vowed would be our last one, as for sure I would commit to my senior dogs daily oral care and prevent dental disease moving forward.  Jasper underwent all the recommended pre-surgical tests by the doctors at our Scarborough Animal Hospital.  Given he is 13 years old, this included pre surgical blood work, a urinalysis, and for him specifically due to a heart murmur an echo cardiogram.  All tests gave the green light that Jasper was low risk for any complications of anesthetic and therefore good to go for his dentistry.

He recovered very well from his dental and only needed a few extractions.  Luckily he still has quite a few teeth left and now I care for them everyday.  In fact, Jasper loves the taste of the chicken flavoured toothpaste and welcomes his daily teeth brushing. Who said old dogs (& I’m sure cats too) can’t learn new tricks?  Jasper learned to accept teeth brushing and deserves in his older years to have great oral care to maintain his current excellent health!  Thanks for reading!  Like I said, senior pets deserve great oral care too!