Old shepherd with bad teeth – should he have a dental? - Page 1

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Old shepherd with bad teeth – should he have a dental?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Our question this week was:

My 16-year-old shepherd has very bad teeth. He had a cleaning by my vet about 4 year ago. They look just as bad if not worst now. My vet told me that there is not much I can do as my dog already has a heart murmur & kidney disease. He is on the KD diet and takes a beta blocker for his heart. I recently found that some of his teeth have fallen out and a few others are loose. Is there anything I can do to help him keep his remaining teeth? I know he does not have much longer to live but we want to keep his a comfortable as possible in his last days.

Christina Dias


Hi – thanks for your email. To be honest, there is probably nothing you can to do help him keep his remaining teeth if they are loose. To optimize his oral health, you could have a dental done and they could pull any bad teeth and clean the good ones. After that you could brush the ones he has. That would be BEST way to keep his remaining teeth as healthy as possible.

With that being said, I understand that he is 16-years-old and has underlying health problem. You mentioned he has a heart problem and a kidney problem. You or your vet may not want to put him under anesthesia to clean his teeth. There are some very safe anesthetics these days and I've seen dogs that old have their teeth cleaned and do fine. But that is up to your and your vet and would depend on your dogs overall health, results of the blood work that would help determine the severity of the kidney problem. I don't have a feel for the seriousness of his heart and kidney problems.

You can try brushing the teeth now but I don't think it will do much good – especially if they are loose and have a lot of tartar.

An article that might be helpful to you is Dental Disease in Dogs and Kidney Failure in Dogs .

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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Old shepherd with bad teeth – should he have a dental?

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