Caring for your dog's dental health is as simple as veterinary care as well as an at-home oral hygiene routine. Unfortunately, when we don't keep up with this it can lead to oral health concerns for our furry friends. Our vets in Killen talk about how veterinary dental visits are like bringing your pup to the dog dentist and what dental problems it can help prevent.
Dog Dental Care: Common Dental Problems in Dogs
The easiest way that you can help keep your dog's teeth clean and prevent common dental problems is with daily brushing. Brushing helps to clear away food particles, plaque and debris. Plaque is a whitish substance made up primarily of bacteria, that if left on the tooth, will harden and turn a more yellowish color (also called calculus). Tartar will remain stuck to the tooth until it is scraped off with an object such as those used by a dog or cat dentist. When left untreated, plaque can build up causing decay and eventual tooth loss.
The most common dog dental disease symptoms to look out for are gingivitis (very red and swollen gum line), discolored deposits on the teeth, and increasingly bad breath. As the dental disease gets worse, dogs may experience even worse breath as well as bleeding of the gums.
Periodontal Disease and How It Affects Dogs
Periodontal disease (gum disease) in dogs can lead to the breakdown of the oral structures. This can cause the eventual loss of jawbone and teeth. This most commonly occurs when untreated plaque and tartar stick to the tooth and make their way beneath the gum line.
This disease starts in the form of gingivitis and develops into periodontal disease as the gum and bone around the tooth deteriorate. As this occurs, pockets around the tooth can develop, allowing food and bacteria to collect below the tooth. When not treated swiftly, decay and tooth loss can result.
Some of the most common signs of gum disease in dogs are:
- Discolored teeth (brown or yellow)
- Loose or missing teeth
- Bad breath
- Weight loss
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Excessive drooling
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- 'Ropey' or bloody saliva
- Reduced appetite
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
Broken or Fractured Teeth
Dogs are constantly chewing on things, and while this can be good for their teeth, it can also lead to issues if the object they chew on isn't suitable. Even everyday items that dogs use can be the cause of a tooth fracture such as bones or hard plastic used to make toys.
Dog chew toys should be small enough that the dog doesn't have to entirely open its mouth, but large enough that there won't be a concern of accidentally swallowing or choking on the toy.
When bacteria builds up in the mouth it can result in large deposits that can make their way into the bloodstream causing infections. Infections are primarily caused by periodontitis but can also be initiated due to trauma-induced chewing on hard or sharp objects. Some infections can be fatal as the bacteria makes its way to the bloodstream and cause organ disease/failure in the heart, liver, kidneys, or brain.
How You Can Prevent Dental Problems in Dogs
Creating a dog dental care routine is a great way to maintain oral hygiene and prevent dental diseases in dogs.
There are a number of additives on the market that you can put in your dog's food or water to help supplement your pup's oral health. Adjusting your dog's diet can also increase oral hygiene, even with small exchanges like providing dental chews instead of less healthy treats.
Daily teeth brushing is also a solid way that you can help thwart the effects of dental issues. Although it is not very realistic, brushing their teeth every day would be best if your dog will tolerate the process.
Be sure to bring your dog in for an oral hygiene cleaning and examination at least once every year. Some smaller breeds of dogs should go two or more times a year due to their teeth's shallow roots.
If you have any questions about recommended dog and cat dental care or about suspected dental problems in dogs, please reach out to your vet in Killen.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.