You might have noticed lately that your dog has terrible breath. It was not always like this. Your canine used to have pearly whites and humid but fresh breath. Now if the car windows are not down, you are choking on hot stinky air. It is difficult to let your sweet mutt kiss you anymore. You have noticed build-up on their teeth and their gums are losing their color. Maybe your dog is even rejecting their favorite dry food, or chewing unusually to one side. More than likely, your pup needs a teeth cleaning.
Many owners do not realize the importance of continuous dental health in their pets. Most people are also not great at keeping up with their own dental appointments. But as we know, pets age much faster than we do, which means that their teeth and gums do as well. And our pet’s dental health is no less important than ours. Though humans suffer primarily from direct tooth decay, canines experience periodontal disease. This affects the tissue surrounding the teeth rather than the teeth themselves. It is an infection of the gums, beginning as gingivitis and gradually spreading.
The signs of periodontal decay, and needing a doggy dentist, are as follows:
- Bad breath and bloody gums
- Tartar build up, black spots on gums, gum inflammation
- Gums begin to turn greyish, lumps on gums, loose or fractured teeth
- Sensitive eating, possible rejection of dry foods
- Tooth decay and finally tooth loss, as well as other serious health problems
If you smell less-than-fresh breath from your canine, chances are that you are smelling the bacteria and infection in their gums. Soon the mouth will show other signs, such as bloody gums and saliva while playing or eating. Often the gums begin to recede from the teeth and black spots will appear. Slowly or all at once, your dog will stop playing with their favorite chew toy, not want to accept a treat, and even reject a pat on the head. These are signs of pain, and should not be ignored. Often, periodontal disease sneaks up on the dog and their owner, so consistent prevention is needed.
Depending on the dog’s size, check ups could be every six months, or every year. Smaller dogs need more frequent dental care due to their compact, narrow mouths with shallow root systems. There are specific breeds as well with predispositions to dental issues, including most small dogs. Some breeds include the Bulldog, Dachshund, Boxer, Chihuahua, Greyhound, Collie, and Yorkie. Brachycephalic dogs, such as the Pug, have cute squash noses that we love. These adorable faces harbor serious health complications if not properly taken care of. Even dogs fed mainly wet food are more likely to develop problems. In fact, over 80% of dogs above three years of age experience active gum disease. It is the most common disease in our four-legged friends. Larger active dogs, such as the Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, and Vizsla, are born with a dental advantage. With regular care, several breeds will maintain good oral health.
At the veterinarian, a teeth cleaning and dental check-up will include putting the dog under anesthesia. This is to do a thorough job of getting built up tartar and plaque below the gums which would cause gingivitis and a sequence of decay. Taking your canine to the veterinarian for a dental checkup at least once a year is also important because they will take X-rays of the dog’s teeth. This will allow a wealth of information on your pet’s dental health that otherwise would be missing. A dog’s teeth might seem to only have a bit of tartar, but it is possible that the problem runs much deeper and can only be seen with medical devices. The dentist might also give antibiotic treatment to the dog in order to fight the bacterial build-up. Proper cleaning will include “scaling,” the scraping off of plaque and tartar, followed by polishing to ensure a smooth surface. The smoother the tooth, the less likely plaque will stick to the surface. If periodontal disease is severe in a dog, tooth extraction might prove necessary.
The truth is, smelly breath is the first sign of oral decay in our pets. And this decay leads to many more health problems. We should not wait for signs that our pet needs their teeth cleaned, but rather ensure regular cleanings appropriate for the size and breed of the dog in order to prevent serious health implications down the road. If we take great care of our pet’s dental health, they should have fresh breath for most of their life. A dog’s overall health begins in the mouth. Improper canine dental care often leads to heart, liver, and kidney damage. And a shorter life. Surprisingly, the problem-causing bacteria in a dog’s mouth can enter a dog’s bloodstream through the roots of teeth and the gums, and wreak havoc on their organs.
Although we might wait until there is an emergency to treat a dog’s dental problems, prevention is key. Surprisingly, brushing your dog’s teeth can be a very effective method in dental health. Dog toothpaste exists and comes in fun flavors like peanut butter, chicken, and beef. Make sure to never use human toothpaste, as the ingredient xylitol is toxic to pets. One could use a soft-bristled child toothbrush or a special finger brush which is sometimes easier. There are special dog toothbrushes as well to make the job more efficient. Besides brushing, there are dog chew toys made specifically for dental health and tartar prevention. More preventative measures include water additives, dental treats, and special diets. There is even a canine dental spray that not only hides the bad breath but helps to break down tartar and other odor-causing bacteria. Even if you do not have time to brush your dog’s teeth every day, do so as often as you can.
It might seem like a bit much to brush your dog’s teeth every day, but just a minute or two a day (or week) and ensuring regular teeth cleanings can save a lot of physical suffering for your pet and financial suffering for you down the road. Discuss the best course of action for dental care with your veterinarian in Lake City.