dog dental health

Everything You Need to Know About Your Dog’s Dental Health

Your dog’s dental health is sooo important! It’s natural for them to hide signs of pain. So unless you’re paying attention to your dog’s mouth, you might not have any idea that there’s a problem. Keep reading to learn more about common dental problems in dogs and what you can do to keep your dog’s mouth healthy!

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Why do we worry about dental disease in dogs?

Dental disease usually begins when plaque bacteria builds up on a dog's teeth. The plaque then turns into a hard substance called tartar. Tartar can continue developing under the gums, causing inflammation. This inflammation (red, swollen gums) is called gingivitis. Ouch!

Gingivitis is also the root of that bad dog breath we’re all too familiar with, especially in our senior dogs. The unhealthy gums may begin to recede, causing teeth to become loose or even fall out! Gingivitis also leads to infection. This bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and eventually set up shop in other organs - most commonly, heart valves.

How to Identify Dental Disease in Dogs

It’s important to examine your dog’s mouth periodically. Look under those lips daily (in a perfect world). Checking your dog’s mouth weekly is probably more realistic, and that’s OK too!

Check for things like:

  • dental tartar
  • reddened or recessed gums
  • broken or discolored teeth
  • cracked or loose teeth
  • any signs of infection
  • firm swellings under the eye (tooth root abscess)

You should also monitor your dog for behaviors or hidden clues that there may be a problem:

  • decrease in appetite
  • dropping kibble or having chewing difficulty
  • weight loss
  • not letting you examine, open, or even touch their mouth (this may be a sign of pain)
  • rubbing their head or nose on carpet or furniture

It’s a good idea to get your puppy used to this sort of “exam” at home from the start. This will help her become comfortable and cooperative for teeth brushing and exams with the vet. Your vet will LOVE you for how well-behaved your dog is, and they’ll be able to perform a thorough check-up!!

Preventing Dental Disease in Dogs

Regular dental cleanings (with or without tooth extractions) are just one of the preventative tools that veterinarians recommend. Be sure to talk to your regular vet or FirstVet about brushing your dog’s teeth, and choosing the right food, treats, and toys to keep those teeth healthy!

Dental healthcare has increased the life expectancy and quality of life of our furry friends. It's important to note that all breeds are at risk of dental disease, but our smaller breeds like Toy Poodles, Yorkies, Bichons, Shih Tzus, Maltese, Dachshunds, and Chihuahuas are especially affected.

Want to learn more? Follow these helpful links:

Veterinary Oral Health Council

National Pet Dental Health Month

AAHA Guidelines for Pet Owners (Oral Health)

And be sure to check out our article to learn how to brush your dog’s teeth!

Have more questions about your dog’s dental health?

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