Caring for your dog's teeth is important to maintaining their good oral and overall health. In today's post, our Austell vets share information on common signs and types of dog dental problems.
Dental Care for Dogs
Although your dog's oral health directly impacts their overall health and wellbeing, most dogs don't receive the dental health care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
By the time many dogs are 3 years old, veterinarians start to see them developing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) or other dental issues, and 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.
Symptoms Of Dental Issues In Dogs
It can be difficult to see early signs of dental health problems in dogs, especially since they tend to hide signs of pain and discomfort. 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
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Buildup of plaque or tartar on teeth
- Abnormal drooling or blood in drool
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
- Dropping food
- Chewing on one side
Common Dog Dental Issues
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 the thin, sticky film of bacteria isn't regularly removed, it can harden into a substance called calculus or tartar that becomes more difficult to get rid of.
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.
When periodontal disease advances, the open space around the tooth roots can fill with bacteria, leading to an infection. This can cause a good deal of pain for your dog and can result in an abscess around the tooth root.
Besides the negative oral health impacts a tooth infection has, it can also negatively affect your dog's overall body 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.
Retained Baby Teeth
All puppies have baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth). Usually, these teeth will fall out by the time your dog reaches 6 months of age. However, in some cases some of the teeth will remain. This can cause over-crowding which can result in extra plaque build-up and make it more difficult to keep your pup's mouth clean.
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.
Some dogs seem to love nothing more than to chew! As a responsible pet parent, you should be wary of certain items, such as bones or toys made of very hard plastic that 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.
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.