Caring for your dog's teeth is critical to their oral and overall health. In today's post, our South Lebanon vets discuss some common types of dental disease in dogs, and signs to watch for.
Dental Care for Dogs
Keeping your dog's oral health at its best is essential to their overall well-being, but most of our canine companions don't receive the dental health care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
In fact, our South Lebanon vets often see dogs developing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) or other dental issues by the time they reach about 3 years of age. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.
The best way to ensure your dog maintains their oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam.
Some Signs Of Dental Problems In Dogs
It isn't always easy to spot early signs of dental health issues in dogs, however, if you notice any of the following it is time to arrange an appointment with your vet:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Oral pain or swelling
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Excess drooling or blood in drool
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
- Dropping food out of mouth
- Favoring one side when chewing
Common Dog Dental Issues
1. Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is a condition that occurs when there is an excessive amount of plaque build up on your pup's teeth. 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 to remove.
Tartar buildup causes pockets to form between your dog's teeth and gum line where infection can develop. If gum disease isn't treated eventually your dog's teeth can become loose and fall out.
2. Oral Infections
Periodontal disease occurs when the open space around your dog's tooth roots becomes filled with bacteria, leading to an infection. This infection can cause a good deal of pain for your dog and can result in a tooth root abscess.
Besides the pain and discomfort associated with a tooth infection, it can also negatively affect your dog's overall 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.
3. Tooth Fractures
It's no secret that dogs love to chew! However, as their caretaker, you should be aware that certain items, such as bones or very hard plastic can cause your pup's teeth to fracture or break. Tooth fractures are also more likely when your dog is chewing on an object that is too big for their mouth.
When selecting chew toys be sure to pick something that is an appropriate size and material for your dog. Speak to your vet about what they would recommend.
4. Retained Baby Teeth
All puppies have baby teeth that usually fall out by the time your dog is about 6 months old. However, sometimes some of the teeth will remain, which can cause over-crowding, leading to extra plaque build-up and more difficulty cleaning your dog's teeth.
Typically, your vet 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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.