Does your dog's breath knock you over? Can you see the tartar buildup on his teeth? If so, you may have waited too long to take your best friend to the doggie dentist - and that could hurt his health.
Sandi Lehr makes her 9-year-old dog Harvey's dental health a priority. "He really needs to have his teeth cleaned every year because there will be a little tartar on his teeth."
Every pet builds up plague and gingivitis at different rates. Left untreated, it can cause problems.
"If pets develop painful dental conditions or inflammatory conditions like periodontal disease it can affect their internal organ function. It definitely affects their kidneys and potentially their heart and liver as well," said veterinarian, Dr. Matthew Lemmons.
A professional cleaning includes x-rays and anesthesia -- your pet must be asleep before the technician can scrape off the plaque and tartar along the gum line.
"Having your pet's teeth professionally cleaned can be expensive. It can be anywhere from $200 to $800 depending on the extensive nature of the work that needs to be done," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
Most pets need yearly dental checkups and cleanings. Move to twice a year for smaller breeds or those with short faces, like pugs. Signs that you've waited too long include excessive drooling, inflamed gums, bad breath and loose teeth.
"The best way to keep the cost down for a professional teeth cleaning is an ounce of prevention. Regularly brushing your pet's teeth yourself can help avoid the buildup and any additional problems that may lead you to having the professional cleaning done," said Hicks.
"I've been told to do it, but I don't do it all the time. He's not too pleased with it, so I just watch as much as I can. And he also has a dental supplement with his food," Lehr said.
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