Just like human teeth, your dog's teeth will decay and disease can become an issue without appropriate dental care. Today, our Farmington Hills vets explain why dog dental care is so important to their health.
Dog Dental Care
What would happen if you decided to stop brushing your teeth? You'd probably start to feel a "scuzzy" sensation in your mouth after a few days as plaque built up on your teeth and beneath your gumline.
Your breath would be almost unbearable to you and anyone else within a couple of feet and you'd have a bad taste in your mouth. Worse, your oral health would deteriorate and you'd end up needing to see your dentist to be treated for one of more dental diseases.
The same is true for our dogs. Dental care is not optional for our pooches either — it's a necessity to protect both their oral and general health.
If your canine companion doesn't receive appropriate dental care, they'll become susceptible to dental disease. These conditions are quite common - most dogs have some type of dental disease (also known as periodontal disease) by age 3. Unfortunately, they can have a serious impact on our pups' long-term health, so it's essential to preserve their overall health and wellbeing with consistent dog dental care.
Dental Disease in Dogs
Dental disease can affect a dog's teeth, gums and supportive structures surrounding the teeth. Plaque has food particles and bacteria in it and can settle on the teeth. If it's not brushed away with a dog-friendly toothbrush, it will harden into tartar, or calculus. While tartar that's above the gumline will be easily visible and can be removed by your veterinarian, it can also lurk under the gumline, even if your dog's teeth are white.
Tartar that's burrowed under the gumline is a real problem because it damages the teeth's supportive structures, leading to inflammation or infection. By this point, serious dental issues, pain and other symptoms appear.
Signs of dental problems in dogs include:
- Inability or refusal to eat or drink
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Fractured teeth
- Bleeding or painful mouth
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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.