Dental disease affects approximately 80 percent of dogs and cats over the age of three. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends annual dental cleanings beginning at age one to two. These regular cleanings are important, allowing your veterinarian to look for periodontal disease and possible fractured teeth.
In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, we’re bringing you the top reasons to care for your dog’s teeth, plus ways to know if your dog is suffering from dental disease.
Signs of dental problems in dogs may include pawing at the mouth, dropping food, and disinterest in food. If you see these signs, you should schedule an appointment with your vet immediately.
That said, it’s important to know ALL the signs of periodontal disease. As a pet parent, you don’t want your dog experiencing discomfort!
Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
- Red, swollen gums
- Increased drooling
- Dropping food from the mouth
- Whining while eating
- Loss of appetite or weight
- Loose or discolored teeth
- Bleeding from the mouth
As a Certified Vet Tech, I’ve seen some bad teeth. My oldest dog, Bruiser, is a doxie and is predisposed to tooth issues. He has very few teeth left, and at 13 years old, needs annual cleanings—which will prolong his life.
If you’re concerned about dental procedures for your senior animal, there are lots of options for care, including dental veterinary specialists to handle harder cases like root canals. Veterinary anesthesiologists are available for dental procedures, as well.
With that in mind, be sure to make canine oral exams a priority. If you need further convincing, read these ten reasons to prioritize oral health for your dog.
10 Reasons to Take Care of Your Dog’s Teeth
- Reduce bad doggy breath! Persistent bad breath, in fact, is sign of periodontal disease.
- Oral health affects the whole system. Periodontal disease can lead to infections that introduce bacteria into other parts of the body. Studies have shown that dogs with severe periodontal disease have more severe microscopic damage to their kidneys, heart muscle, and liver. Research shows that inflammation in any part of the body can have a negative impact on your pet’s internal organs.
- Good dental care can extend a dog’s life. And what better reason than that?
- Addressing dental issues can result in a new dog! There’s not a veterinarian who hasn’t seen the remarkable improvement in a patient that’s had one or more painful teeth removed.
- Dental exams cover more than just the teeth. They begin with a comprehensive oral examination to evaluate structures of the face, head, and neck. Intra-oral structures are then examined ,including the teeth and soft tissues.
- Oral exams allow a veterinarian to identify painful problems including broken teeth, periodontal disease, or even oral tumors.
- Dental probing and X-rays are how experts find the deeper pathology. Many pets, particularly middle-aged and older cats and dogs, require periodic professional scaling in addition to ongoing plaque control.
- Exams catch disease early. If you don’t catch periodontal disease in time, the gums become irritated, leading to bleeding and oral pain. The roots may become so severely affected that some teeth become loose and fall out.
- Periodontal disease is difficult to treat. It’s much easier to prevent than to cure.
- Veterinary anesthesia has become very safe. Veterinary anesthesia practices have advanced significantly with widespread use of safer anesthetic gases to provide comfort and reduce surgical stress. Additionally, a tech is always on hand to monitor.
Tips for Dog Tooth Care
Daily brushing is necessary to minimize calculus formation. Start by massaging your dog’s gums as an introduction to brushing their teeth. Use plenty of treats to make sure they associate the brushing with positive outcomes!
When brushing, be sure to use a canine toothpaste. For more, see 10 Best Dog Toothpastes to Get Your Dog Ready for a Kiss.
Reduction of bacteria in the mouth can be accomplished not only through brushing, but also with diet and the use of chew toys. The Veterinary Oral Health Council, or VOHC, publishes a list of approved products for dog dental care that includes pet foods and toys.