Preventive care is an important part of your dog's overall health. This helps to address potential issues before they become too serious and keeps your dog's mouth clean and healthy. Here, our vets talk about pet dental care and share some of the dental problems that most commonly affect dogs.
The Importance of Dental Care For Dogs
While routine dental care is crucial to a dog's health, many dogs don't receive the routine checkups and preventive care they need.
Our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital often see dogs developing signs of gum disease (periodontal disease) or other dental problems by the time they turn 3 years old. When dogs experience dental conditions when they are young it can be the start of a series of dental concerns throughout their life.
The best way to maintain your dog's oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam.
Symptoms of Possible Dental Issues
By bringing your dog in for routine care it gives the vet a chance to spot and address any oral health concerns. That said, if you notice any of the following, it's time to book an appointment with your vet or a veterinary dentist:
- Dropping food
- Excess drooling or blood in drool
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Chewing on one side
Common Dental Problems in Dogs
Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
A build-up of plaque on the teeth can lead to a serious condition known as periodontal disease or gum disease. If plaque (a thin, sticky film of bacteria) isn't regularly removed, it can harden into a substance called calculus or tartar that becomes more difficult for your vet or vet dentist to remove.
Once tartar develops it can result in infections which can cause a number of more serious complications affecting both the oral health and overall health of your pup. Gum disease can lead to complications such as teeth falling out when left untreated.
As mentioned above, the buildup of plaque and tartar can lead to the development of infections that can affect all parts of your dog's mouth and eventually other areas of their body. Infections in your dog's teeth can not only cause serious pain but also can lead to other issues like cysts.
Besides the negative oral health impacts a tooth infection has, it can also negatively affect your dog's overall body health. Just as in humans, there have been links found between periodontal disease and heart disease in dogs. This is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function, and causing issues with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
While a dog's chewing can be considered normal, we need to be wary of the object that our beloved pups are chewing on. If they chew on anything too hard then they may suffer from broken teeth. Tooth fractures are also more likely when your dog is chewing on an object that is too big for their mouth.
Always be sure that the chew toys you choose for your dog are size-appropriate. Your vet can help recommend dental chews that are appropriate for your dog.
Retained Baby Teeth
All puppies have baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth). In most situations, these teeth will fall out by the time your dog reaches 6 months of age. However, in some cases, some of the teeth will remain. This can cause over-crowding which can result in extra plaque buildup and make it more difficult to keep your pup's mouth clean.
Typically, your vet or a dog or cat dentist will recommend these teeth be removed under anesthetic to prevent future issues. Many vets will do this when the dog is already under anesthesia for a spay or neuter.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.