I am conflicted about what to do with one of my dogs that is over 14 yrs old and has developed very bad breath.

 The Vet checked her and said her teeth are not that bad and suggested rubbing her teeth with a peroxide-baking soda mixture. She is healthy and has no problem eating.  Her breath however tells a different story and she sleeps right next to my bed. A doggie dental specialist offers a  cleaning package for $ 575 (bloodwork, X-rays and cleaning)  but also states this does not cover anything else that may show up on X-Rays.  The possible cost escalation and the anesthesia  risk at her age give me pause....  In the past I was always able to regularly scale my dog's teeth, so my older dogs were always in good shape, but this has not been possible for me to do in the last few years because my eyesight is such that I could inadvertently hurt the dog.

I would like to know what other people's experiences may have been with dogs of advanced age in regards to teeth cleanings and or anesthesia and cost.

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There's so many factors I guess.

 Is the dog in over all good health?  If so, then I would consider it.  The testing before should catch any abnormal functions that may put her at risk.  If not, then no way.  Or if there's been problems before with anesthesia.

I've never had my dogs teeth cleaned at that age, because of the risk factors.  If the vet said they aren't that bad, then I'd be even less inclined.  Bad breath can be caused by numerous things, only one of them is dirty teeth.  She may have a sinus infection, a gastric ulcer, gastric reflux, or at the worst (not to scare you) even sinus or oral cancer.  

My vet sells C.E.T. chews, and recommended them to me.  I swear by them.  They are rawhides with teeth cleaner on them.  I give one a week.  My one corgi is 6 and has never needed a cleaning, my shepherd mix is 4 and never needed a cleaning.  My rescue corgi had horrible teeth when we got him- he got a cleaning right away and another one the next year.  It's been two years now and he hasn't needed one since.  

Thanks Jennifer. I ruled out dental chews because,  at her age.  I'm worried they may cause a broken tooth, but I'll check those out for my Corgi who is 3 1/2.  I had a Malamute who, at 13 yrs old, bit down hard on something and broke his jaw.... the Vet wired it and he healed, but it was quite scarey.  She just got her annual check up, no obvious problems in the mouth. and her digestion is good. She's active, playful, tail always wagging.  I wonder if anyone has had luck with the peroxide and baking soda.  She had been abused before I adopted her and gets easily scared if we try to do anything to her that requires restraining and she is unfamiliar with. The only anesthesia she had was when I adopted her and had her spayed, she was 1 yr old then.

I am also concerned with teeth cleaning.  Both of mine need it done.  Katie, 9, is scheduled for next Monday.  She is in good health.  I need to schedule Max, 11, but I am concerned because of both their ages.  He is in good health other than the calcification in his neck.  But I am also concerned with both of them developing heart disease because of their teeth.  Went thru that with a cat I had...granted he lived to be 19 but had to take him in every couple of weeks for antibiotic shots for the last 4  months of his life.

I will be watching what advice you get because my 10 year old needs dental work. She is in good health but has some broken teeth but I am worried about surgery.

A couple of days ago I met a lady in her eighties who was walking around Target wheeling a dog stroller with a mini-dachshund inside. We stopped and talked.

The lady said the dog was 13 and had just had a dental cleaning and removal of a couple of teeth and had come through it just fine.  Since my own concern was nagging me, I decided to post the question and see what other experiences or advice  may be worth considering. 

As long as the bloodwork is done and they are on fluids the whole time we VERY VERY VERY RARELY see negative affects from anesthesia. It is much safer than it used to be. We would routinely do dentals on dogs and cats who are geriatric. We have had several 17+ year old dogs and cats come through dentals with flying colors. What we do see sometimes is that it takes a few more days to recover than in a young dog. 

I would be more inclined to spend that money on  full geriatric work up though rather than a dental cleaning if your vet says she has good teeth. There are so many other causes of bad breath and if the teeth look clean and strong I would start my search elsewhere with less invasive procedures such as blood work. 

Melissa...thank you for that info.  My biggest concern is for my Max.  He's 11 but in good health.  What worries me is that he has a calcification in his neck and I am worried about the position his head will need to be in to clean his teeth.  I know how much pain he was in and I was terrified I was going to lose him until I found acupuncture.  I don't want to do anything that will set him back or set up something that acupuncture won't be able to help.

I think that is a very fair concern, most dentals are done with the dog laying on his side. If your vet knows about his calcification they can take special precautions to support his head/neck. They basically lay on their side for the cleaning of top and bottom of one side and then are turned and the other side is done.

While we don't generally crank the tongue off to the side like this tech is doing, the positioning is the same

petco sells a generic brand mint chews that have enzymes. Jackson, my little one, used to have rank breath even thought his teeth are clean and after having those once a day, it smells fine. I mean, not minty, just normal.

For what it's worth, my mother's dog lived to be 17 and had regular teeth cleanings right up until the very last year of her life.  She never had a problem with anesthesia.

UPDATE: After much wringing of hands, I decided to take Pixie to another Vet who I knew and offered a program of dental care and oral surgery. We did a complete Senior panel of blood work and urine analysis.  All her tests were good. Full mouth X-Rays showed seven teeth that needed to be removed, including an an abscessed canine.  She came through the procedure with flying colors and ate some chicken tonight.  She has antibiotics for 10  days and a painkiller for 7 days.  Soft diet for 3-5 days. The stitches will dissolve on their own.

I am glad I took this step and am confident that she will have a better chance at a happy, healthy old age.  I am also glad I consulted a second Vet regarding her condition.  Thanks everyone for your feedback as well.

Gee, I just read down through all these posts and I'll admit I was rather surprised to see that the second vet found so many problems after your vet had said,Pixie's teeth were not that bad. Clearly the abscessed canine was causing her bad breath.  I hope you switched to the new vet, and I'm glad she's doing so well. Having clean teeth at her age will go along we to insuring she's in good health. I'm very happy for you !

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