Dental issues are among the most naturally occurring health problems found in dogs. Our pet dentists in Arlington are here to share some of the common veterinary dental problems in dogs and what steps you should take if your pup is showing signs of oral health concerns.
The Most Commonly Seen Dental Concerns in Dogs
Just like humans, dogs' mouths need to be kept clean - it's essential to their general health and well-being. However, most dogs don't receive the dental healthcare they require to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
Our vets in Bellevue often see dogs developing signs of gum disease (periodontal disease) or other dental problems by the time they turn 3 years old. This early onset of dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.
The best way to maintain your dog's oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam from your animal dentist.
What are the signs of dog dental problems?
It's not always easy to detect early signs of dental health issues in dogs. That said, if you notice any of the following, it's time to book an appointment with your dog dentist:
- Dropping food
- Excess drooling or blood in drool
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Chewing on one side
Plaque & Tartar Buildup in Dogs
Just like humans, dogs will accumulate plaque and tartar buildup over time, especially without regular cleanings. Plaque is a whitish substance made up primarily of bacteria, that if left on the tooth, will harden and turn a more yellowish color (also called calculus). Tartar will remain stuck to the tooth until it is scraped off with an object such as those used by a veterinarian.
Plaque and tartar buildup are the main causes of gum disease in dogs as well as tooth loss. The most common signs for a dog owner to look out for are gingivitis (very red and swollen gum line), discolored deposits on the teeth, and increasingly bad breath. As the dental disease gets worse, dogs may experience even worse breath as well as bleeding of the gums.
Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
Periodontal disease refers to the deterioration of the gum and bone that surround the tooth. This most commonly occurs when untreated plaque and tartar stick to the tooth and make their way beneath the gum line.
This disease starts in the form of gingivitis and develops into periodontal disease as the gum and bone around the tooth deteriorate. As this occurs, pockets around the tooth can develop, allowing food and bacteria to collect below the tooth. If left unattended, dangerous infections can arise and the teeth will begin to fall out.
Common symptoms of canine periodontitis include:
- Discolored teeth (brown or yellow)
- Loose or missing teeth
- Bad breath
- Weight loss
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Excessive drooling
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- “Ropey” or bloody saliva
- Reduced appetite
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
If you notice any of these symptoms present in your dog, please contact your veterinary dentist in Arlington:
Tooth Fractures (Oral Trauma)
With all of the chewing that dogs do whether they are eating or playing, it is not surprising that tooth fractures are a very common occurrence. Even everyday items that dogs use can be the cause of a tooth fracture such as bones or hard plastic used to make toys.
Dog chew toys should be small enough that the dog doesn't have to entirely open its mouth, but large enough that there won't be a concern of accidentally swallowing or choking on the toy.
An oral infection is an outcome of a pocket (usually around the root of the tooth) that has been filled with bacteria. Infections are primarily caused by periodontitis but can also be initiated due to trauma-induced chewing on hard or sharp objects. Some infections can be fatal as the bacteria makes its way to the bloodstream and cause organ disease/failure in the heart, liver, kidneys, or brain.
What are some ways to prevent deal problems in dogs?
Creating a dental care routine for your dog is a great way to maintain oral hygiene and prevent oral issues.
Introducing food or water additives is an easy way to improve and maintain the health and strength of their teeth and bones. Adjusting your dog's diet can also increase oral hygiene, even with small exchanges like providing dental chews instead of less healthy treats.
Brushing your dog's teeth regularly is an ideal tactic for dog owners to use. Although it is not very realistic, brushing their teeth every day would be best if your dog will tolerate the process.
Be sure to bring your dog in for an oral hygiene cleaning and examination at least once every year. Some smaller breeds of dogs should go two or more times a year due to their teeth's shallow roots.
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.