Animal Rescue: Put some teeth into your dog’s health plan _lowres

Photo provided by ARNO -- PET OF THE WEEK: General is a senior dog looking for a foster or forever home. He walks great on a leash, and he enjoys being at your side. He is a calm and mild-mannered and will do well in a quiet home with another social, calm, mild-mannered dog. Once he bonds with you, he is a true softie and just wants to be by your side. For more details on General, email us at

When we think about what it takes to keep a pet happy and healthy, one area is often overlooked: dental care. However, taking good care of a pet’s teeth and gums is important to overall health.

Plaque and bacteria can build up in a dog’s mouth over a short period of time. If left untreated, tartar buildup can lead to painful, inflamed gums and possibly infection and gum disease. Over time, these infections can become chronic, and even fatal.

Are dental treats enough? They seem like a quick and easy fix, but proper dental care means keeping a pet’s diet “crunchy” with dry food and teeth-healthy hard treats and checking the teeth regularly — particularly the rear molars — for dark, plaque-covered areas. Having the vet examine the teeth at regular visits and having a dental cleaning done at least once a year is also recommended.

If Fido will allow it, brush his teeth a few times a week. This may seem like a daunting task, but if brushing is introduced early on — as a puppy or newly adopted adult — he will get used to the routine. Finger sheaths with nibs on them made for reaching inside the pet’s mouth and “brushing” can be purchased at pet supply stores. Some groomers also offer teeth brushing for a nominal fee.

Be on the lookout for signs of a problem. A brown color at the base of the dog’s teeth, drooling while eating or if he keeps his head cocked to the side as if having difficulty chewing are all indications that something may be wrong. If any of these conditions are present, visit the vet to have him examined as soon as possible.

The vet will examine a pet’s teeth at all routine appointments and can recommend when and how often he should have a dental procedure. This procedure consists of a thorough cleaning and removing of tartar and plaque, including under the gum line, and examining gums for inflammation or infection. Any bad or loose teeth are removed, and if necessary, the gums are closed with sutures. Follow-up treatment of antibiotics for possible infection is a normal course of action. Even a pet with no teeth can eat dry food as soon as the gums heal and harden, so do not worry if over the years, Fido has to have several teeth removed. Removing the cause of infection is imperative to a healthy, long life.

Pre-dental blood work is recommended to make sure a pet’s vital organs are up for the procedure, as he will have to be under anesthesia for the dental cleaning. Blood work is especially important for senior pets prior to anesthesia.


SUNDAY: Reactive Rover Workshop will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. Does your dog bark and lunge at other dogs while on a leash? This two-hour workshop will lay out the genetic and environmental underpinnings of dog-dog reactivity, discuss the underlying causation and provide protocols for modifying the behavior. The fee for this workshop is $25 per person, and preregistration is required. Visit for information and to register.

SUNDAY: A Puppy Socialization Workshop will be held at noon at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. If you have a new puppy, are thinking of getting one or just missed getting into a puppy training class, this seminar will get you started on the basics of what you need to know to raise a well-socialized pup. The fee for this one-hour workshop is $10, and preregistration is required. Visit for information and to register.

SUNDAY: A free Intro to Dog Training workshop will be held at 3 p.m. at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. It’s open to new adopters, seasoned pet owners and anyone looking to learn a little more about how to effectively communicate with their dog. This workshop covers the basics of how dogs learn and how you can make the most of their training. As an added benefit, anyone who attends will receive a discount code for 10 percent off a Manners Training class. Note that this is a human only workshop. Registration is not required, walk-ins welcome. For information, visit

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, email a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to In Jefferson Parish, email and, and in St. Bernard Parish, email to

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at or visit