Without appropriate dental care, your dog's teeth could decay, loosen or even fall out. Today, our Palmdale vets share a few reasons why dog dental care is so important to their health.
Dog Dental Care
Try a thought experiment: imagine you've stopped brushing your teeth entirely. After a day or so, your mouth might start to feel 'scuzzy' 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. Ultimately, it may lead to long-term problems, which makes costs and health conditions related to oral health pile up.
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 affect your pooch's teeth, the surrounding supportive structures, and gums. 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 above the gumline will be easily visible and can be removed by your veterinarian relatively easily during a professional dental cleaning.
Keep in mind, though, that sparkling white teeth aren't the only sign of oral health in either human or canine dental care. 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 tooth loss
If the structures surrounding a dog's teeth become infected or damaged, this can lead to loosening or missing teeth down the road. With good dog dental care, you can make sure these supportive structures remain healthy and that the teeth stay in place.
2. Preventing oral pain
Dental disease at any stage, but especially for severe cases, 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 'dog-breath' odor is normal, an intense smell of fish, feces, acetone, urine, garbage, sewer or other unpleasant scents can indicate trouble such as an infection or buildup of bacteria. When your dog's teeth and mouth are healthy, noticeably bad breath shouldn'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
Especially in its advanced stages, dental disease can cause organ damage. This serious condition occurs 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 to care for your dog's teeth at home
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 every few days is a great way to maintain great oral health. Use a dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrush.
- Provide dental treats, especially if your dog dislikes or doesn't adjust to having their teeth brushed.
- Give your dog durable dental toys to clean their teeth and freshen their 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.