I was Today Years Old when I learned of dog braces
Yes, Julia from ‘Desus & Mero,’ dog braces may be a ‘white woman thing’
You learn something new everyday. And I’m now learning pet tips about dog eye doctors, pet insurance and one other pup health tip I never knew existed — until today. On Showtime’s “Desus & Mero,” Julia (warm-up moderator for the show) asked, “Would you ever get your dog braces if he really needed it?” And the look on co-host Desus’ face matched mine.
Even as a 22-year dog owner and yearlong dog care specialist, I still don’t claim to know everything about them. And I was Today Years Old when I learned that there are braces for the four-legged animals who I have chased around to stop chewing on rocks, split bones, sticks, plastic, every possible thing in a garbage can (besides lettuce) and antlers. Judging from my own reaction and the Bodega Boys’ facial expressions, I can only assume that Julia may be right when she joked that it must be a “white woman thing.” While there may be other groups who have paid for (or heard of) this pet procedure, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume it’s not as common as one may think.
According to Mother Nature Network, not only have pet health professionals such as Dr. Dale Kressin put somewhere around 65-75 orthodontic appliances on dogs, but he’s also managed to do so on cats. I can only imagine how that went. Personally speaking, I have a bone to pick with dog owners who are determined to make furry four-legged animals into small toddlers. Some of the pet outfits, with paw booties, are out of control. Let your dog be an actual dog. If he’s bumping his head and fleeing the room to not wear the outfit, get rid of it. The same goes for pet owners who want their dogs to get braces for aesthetic reasons. That “crooked smile” or wide-toothed grin is just too much for them. However, not only are dog braces solely for aesthetic purposes a waste of money. It’s also unnecessary discomfort for an otherwise perfectly healthy dog.
However, there are cases where dog braces may actually be a legitimate procedure, specifically if (s)he has trouble eating. Still though, before you make that leap, can you honestly say you take the best care of your dog’s teeth?
Why would my dog need braces?
I can’t answer this question. Only a licensed veterinarian who specializes in pet dental health should tell you whether your dog needs dog braces or not. However, there are entirely too many circumstances where people just don’t spend enough time checking out their dog’s teeth.
Before you do anything else, become familiar with your particular dog’s dental care needs. Yes, your dog can have tartar and plaque buildup. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), “In the early stages, tartar begins as soft matter on the tooth enamel, but will build-up and harden as time passes.”
If your dog’s teeth are not brushed by you — or dog treats that clean teeth are not incorporated into his day-to-day regimen— don’t be surprised by your next vet visit results about gum inflammation and disease, pet tooth decay or dog abscesses. Larger breeds have their own issues with aggressive chewing and grabbing ahold of big items. (If you’ve ever seen a dog destroy a toy just to get to the squeaker, you know what I mean.) But smaller breed dogs may also have pet dental issues when it comes to tartar formation, gum recession and tooth loss. In fact, AKC confirms that small breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers are likely to have lost half of their teeth by the time they are in their mid-60s in dog years (or 12 years old in human years).
You don’t have to go to a special pet health store to be able to find plastic dog toothbrushes, dog dental wipes, silicone “dog finger” brushes and dog chews.
Just make sure you never have the bright idea to use toothpaste. Xylitol — commonly found in sugar-free gum, candy, breath mints, pudding snacks, cough syrup, chewable or gummy vitamins and supplements, mouthwash, and toothpaste — is extremely toxic in dogs. The Veterinary Care Animal Hospital and Referral Center (VCA) confirms that ingesting xylitol could result in your dog having hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure and/or death.
Your dog’s diet will make a world of difference, too. More than 80 percent of dogs over the age of three have active dental disease, with only 10 percent being tooth decay. If your dog’s teeth are taken care of to begin with, plaque bacteria risks can diminish. Without conquering a dog’s plaque buildup problem, in comes the potential harm from gingivitis. Gingivitis is always the first stage of periodontal disease and it is the only truly reversible stage, reports VCA, but most pet owners don’t brush their dog’s teeth daily. By paying attention to a dog’s teeth the same way you pay attention to your own teeth, you may be able to catch any problematic areas before it becomes a larger problem.
As for the dog braces, in my non-medical opinion, that should be the absolute last resort. And if it does become a mandatory procedure, watch your aggressive chewing dog like a hawk because he’s going to want those pet braces off of his teeth more than that top hat you keep trying to push on his head.