Dog Dental Care
Imagine if you decided to stop brushing your teeth. Your mouth would start to feel scuzzy after a few days, due to the plaque buildup on your teeth and under your gumline. You'd have a bad taste in your mouth and your breath would be almost unbearable. What's worse, in the long-term your dentist would end up treating you for one or many dental diseases. The same is true for our dogs. For our canine companions, dental care is not optional — it's a necessity to preserve both oral and overall health.
Without appropriate dental care, dogs are prone to dental disease. These issues are quite common — by age 3, most dogs have some type of dental disease (also known as periodontal disease). Dental disease in dogs can have a serious impact long-term, so preserving their overall health with consistent dog dental care is imperative.
Dental Disease in Dogs
Dental disease can impact your dog's teeth, gums and supportive structures around the teeth. Plaque, which contains food particles and bacteria, starts to accumulate on teeth. If the plaque is not brushed away with a dog-friendly toothbrush, it remains on the teeth and hardens into calculus (tartar). Tartar that's above the gumline will be easily visible and can be removed by your veterinarian relatively easily during a professional dental cleaning.
However, just because your dog's teeth are sparkling white doesn't mean all is well. Tartar that gets under the gumline is a real issue since it damages the supportive structures of the teeth and causes infection and inflammation. This is where serious dental issues, pain and other symptoms become a problem.
Signs of dental problems in dogs include:
- Loose teeth
- Fractured teeth
- Bad breath
- Bleeding or painful mouth
- Inability or refusal to eat or drink
Why is dog dental care important?
Every pet parent wants their dog to have great lifelong dental health. Here are five reasons why attentive dental care for dogs is so important to your dog's general health.
1. Preventing teeth from falling out
If the structures surrounding a dog's teeth become infected or damage, this will eventually lead to loose and missing teeth. With good dog dental care, you can make sure these supportive structures remain healthy and that the teeth stay in place.
2. Preventing pain in the mouth
Severe dental disease (or dental disease at any stage) can be quite painful for dogs. Prevent oral pain and make sure your dog's teeth keep functioning as they're supposed to by keeping your pup's teeth and gums healthy.
3. Preventing bad breath
Halitosis or bad breath is a common problem for dogs, but it's actually a sign of dental disease. While a mild odor is normal, a strong smell of fish, poop, acetone, urine, garbage, sewer or other scent can indicate trouble such as an infection or buildup of bacteria. When your dog's teeth and mouth are healthy, very bad breath won't be an issue.
4. Preventing gum disease from progressing
Many dogs have periodontal disease by the time they are just 3 years old. That said, diligent dog dental care can keep dental disease from progressing and causing problems in the rest of the body.
5. Preventing organ damage
As alluded to above, dental disease can cause organ damage as a result of bacteria in plaque entering the bloodstream, traveling to the heart and spreading to organs such as the liver and kidneys. This can quickly lead to dogs becoming severely ill. Good oral hygiene prevents the spread of bacteria and subsequent organ damage (along with expensive procedures to correct these problems).
How can I remove plaque from my dog's teeth?
Annual professional dental exams and cleanings are important, but appropriate dental care for your dog also involves at-home maintenance. Here are a few things to add to your at-home routine to help your dog keep healthy teeth:
- Brush your dog's teeth. Taking time to brush your dog's teeth a few times each week is an excellent way to maintain great oral health. Use a dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrush.
- Provide dental treats. While not all dogs like their teeth brushed or will get used to it easily, you can try dog dental treats.
- Give your dog durable dental toys to clean their teeth and freshen breath. These toys are designed to stand up to your dog's chewing.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.