Do dogs need teeth cleaning? If so, how often do their teeth need to be cleaned? What are your options for at home and professional care, and how much does it cost? In this blog we’ll answer these questions and offer some tips on how to keep your Boxer’s teeth gleaming and healthy.
How Often Should You Get Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned?
Most responsible dog owners schedule annual veterinary visits for vaccinations and general health checkups. One area that’s often overlooked or delayed, though, is dental care. Just like people, dogs need to have their teeth cleaned regularly to get rid of plaque before it hardens into tartar, and to avoid serious dental issues. According to experts, gum disease is five times more likely in pets than in people, and more than 80 percent of dogs over 3 years old have it.
It’s best not to wait until your dog has bad breath as that can be a sign of serious problems. Regular dental maintenance as part of annual check ups is also recommended because Boxers have very strong jaws and can chip or break their teeth on bones or hard objects without exhibiting immediate signs of distress or pain. Routine check ups and cleanings can prevent cavities, gum disease and other problems that can make it difficult for your Boxer to eat properly or feel their best.
How Much Does Professional Teeth Cleaning Cost?
When you’re adding up the average annual costs to maintain a healthy, happy Boxer, be sure to include the costs for dental care. The costs for a cleaning at a veterinarian’s office can vary widely, from $300 to thousands of dollars. There are a variety of factors that impact cost, including how healthy your Boxer is and if they need any extractions.
The biggest expense for a professional dental cleaning at your vet’s office is usually the cost of anesthesia required to do a deep cleaning and any tests (such as blood work) that may need to be performed prior to anesthesia to ensure that your dog is healthy enough. Certain kidney, liver and health conditions may preclude anesthesia or increase risks to your dog.
Costs can also include monitoring your pet, which could be several hours or overnight after they awake from anesthesia, along with any X-rays and pain medication. Costs can also vary depending on what region of the state or country you live in, with charges typically being higher in cities. Age is another factor, as older dogs may need additional blood work or monitoring, as is size, as larger Boxers may require more anesthesia.
Extractions can run up a bill fairly quickly, too, especially if a tooth is broken or has additional complications. Extractions can run anywhere from $1,000 to more than $5,000 depending on the number of teeth impacted, and require anesthesia.
Is It Safe to Have an Older Dog’s Teeth Cleaned?
We love our senior Boxers, and many are living longer than ever thanks to improvements in medical care and nutrition. However, senior dogs can face additional risks when undergoing anesthesia for teeth cleaning and dental work. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), experts estimate that the risk of anesthetic death increases dramatically for dogs older than 12 years of age, usually due to complications from underlying diseases.
Before having any dental work done on your senior Boxer, your veterinarian should conduct blood work and a general health check to be sure that they’re a good candidate for anesthesia. In cases where the dog has a broken or infected tooth your veterinarian should discuss the risks with you before any surgery or extractions. If you’re not comfortable with the answers, you may wish to get a second opinion or find a doctor who specializes in animal dentistry.
One dental issue that Boxers frequently have is Gingival hyperplasia, or excessive gum growth. Gingival hyperplasia is a term used to describe the abnormal growth of excessive gum tissue. This can cause unsightly, overgrown gums, as well as pain and infections in more extreme cases. This condition is thought to be genetic in Boxers, and causes are often unclear.
Vets usually treat this condition by surgically removing excessive gum tissue under general anesthesia, usually at the time of a dental cleaning. Experienced vets can also restore the normal gum line and remove any pockets that are catching food or debris to decrease the risk of inflammation and infection.
Other Canine Teeth Cleaning Options
If budget is a concern, you may be able to find special offers through local animal care clinics and shelters that provide services on a sliding-fee scale, or through local pet stores that offer anesthesia-free cleaning. Be sure to choose a reputable provider to keep your Boxer safe. All dental cleanings should be regarded as medical procedures, and a cleaning without anesthesia won’t enable as deep or thorough a cleaning as it would otherwise. If your dog requires extractions or gum surgery, be sure that the facility is equipped to perform these procedures and has a licensed veterinarian on staff to do so. If not, your dog could be at risk for infection, pain or even death.
Brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis is also recommended, although only a small portion of dog owners do so. Many dogs learn to enjoy toothbrushing, though, even if their humans find it challenging. There are a number of dog-friendly toothpastes on the market now, in flavors like peanut butter and chicken, and finger toothbrushes designed especially for dogs are available at most pet stores. There are even liquids that can be added to your dog’s water dish that are meant to promote good dental hygiene. Whatever you do, don’t use human toothpaste, as it has ingredients like xylitol that is toxic for dogs.
With regular dental care, your Boxer can lead a longer and healthier life, and avoid painful conditions and complications. Whether you choose to have your dog undergo deep cleanings every year under anesthesia or less frequently can depend on your budget, your dog’s overall health, and what veterinary care is available in your area. You can also brush your dog’s teeth using canine-safe toothbrushes and toothpaste to keep their breath fresh and spot signs of disease or discomfort earlier. If you choose to have your dog go under anesthesia, be aware of the costs and the risks associated with this, as well as the advantages, and schedule X-rays, gum work and other procedures at the same time to avoid multiple appointments if possible.