Dental issues can bring great discomfort to your dog and even lead to additional health problems. In this article, our vets at Concord will guide you on recognizing dental problems in your dog, highlighting the most common issues, and providing advice on prevention and treatment.
Your Dog's Oral Health
Your dog's oral health is crucial for its overall well-being. The mouth, teeth, and gums play important roles in eating and communication. If these oral structures are damaged or diseased, your dog may experience pain and have difficulty eating and communicating normally.
Moreover, oral health issues in dogs can spread beyond the mouth. Bacteria and infections can travel throughout your pet's body, causing harm to organs like the liver, kidneys, and heart. This can have serious consequences for your dog's health and lifespan.
That's why it's important to prioritize regular dental care for your pet. Veterinary dentistry and routine dental cleanings are essential for preventive healthcare. Regular cleanings can prevent health problems or identify and treat any developing issues early on.
How to Spot Dental Issues in Dogs
If you observe any of these behaviors or conditions in your dog, it's possible that they are experiencing dental disease.
Common symptoms of dental disease in dogs may include:
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Visible tartar
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
- Missing or lose teeth
- Excessive drooling
- Bleeding, swollen, or red gums
- Weight loss
Suppose you notice any of the signs mentioned above indicating dental disease in your dog. In that case, it is important to take them to your local veterinarian at Concord as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment of dental disease will greatly benefit your dog's overall health in the long run.
Common Dog Dental Problems
Various health issues can affect your dog's teeth, gums, and other oral structures. However, there are a few common conditions to keep an eye on.
Plaque & Tartar Buildup
Plaque is a whitish substance that mainly consists of bacteria. It forms on the teeth and emits a foul smell that gets worse the longer it stays in the mouth. When plaque accumulates, it can lead to tooth decay and gum irritation.
If you don't brush your teeth and remove plaque within 24 to 48 hours, it hardens and transforms into tartar. Tartar is a yellow or brown substance known as calculus by veterinarians. It sticks to the tooth surfaces and can only be eliminated by scraping it off with a dental scaler or a similar hard tool.
Tartar contributes to the worsening of tooth decay and gum irritation. Having plaque and tartar on your dog's teeth puts them at a high risk of losing teeth and developing gum disease. Common signs of dental issues include stained deposits on the teeth, a red and swollen gum line called gingivitis, and bad breath. Owners may observe more frequent bleeding gums and worsening breath as dental disease progresses.
Plaque and tartar in the mouth lead to bacteria getting under the gums, causing damage to the tissues and bones holding your dog's teeth in place. It begins with gingivitis and progresses to periodontal disease.
As the disease advances, the soft tissues and bones around the teeth deteriorate, creating pockets around the tooth roots.
These pockets become a breeding ground for bacteria, debris, and food, leading to the development of harmful infections.
Gradually, the teeth become loose and eventually fall out.
Periodontal disease can cause bacteria to enter the space around tooth roots, leading to an infection known as a tooth root abscess.
This infection causes pus to form around the tooth. If left untreated, the abscess can grow large and cause swelling in the face and changes in facial appearance.
Oral infections are commonly caused by periodontal disease, but they can also occur as a result of mouth trauma caused by chewing on hard or sharp objects.
Powerful chewers should avoid hard plastic, antlers, or bones as they can break their teeth. Vets advise against giving your dog anything harder than what you would bang on your knee.
The size of the chew matters too. If it's too big for your dog's mouth, it can cause a tooth fracture called a slab fracture.
Your vet might suggest smaller chews your dog can hold in its mouth without accidentally swallowing.
These chews should be small enough that your dog doesn't need to open its mouth to chew on them safely and fully.
Preventing Dental Issues in Dogs
To ensure your dog's teeth stay healthy and avoid dental problems, regularly brush their teeth and clean their mouth. By removing plaque before it can cause harm or infection, you significantly improve their chances of having strong teeth and gums.
To maintain excellent dental health and fresh breath for your dog, make sure to schedule a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. At All Bay Animal Hospital, our dog dental appointments are similar to visits to a veterinary dog dentist.
To prevent oral health issues from arising, it's important to start cleaning your dog's teeth and gums when they're still a puppy. This way, they can adapt to the process more easily. Additionally, you might want to consider incorporating dog dental chews into their routine.
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.