Your dog uses their mouth for most things in their life, eating, playing, cleaning and vocalizing. If they are experiencing tooth pain it can affect their overall health and quality of life. In today's post, our Oceanside vets discuss how to spot symptoms of dental disease and other problems in dogs.
Dog Dental Care
While dental and oral health care is a crucial part of the overall care of a dog, many dogs do not receive the care that they require to keep their mouth and teeth healthy.
In fact, our Oceanside 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.
Symptoms of Dental Disease & Other 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
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Excess drooling or blood in drool
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
- Dropping food
- Chewing on one side
Typical Dog Dental Problems That Are Seen
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
With periodontal disease, the open space around the tooth roots can become filled with bacteria, leading to an infection. If your dog experiences an oral infection they will most likely be in a large amount of pain and they will be at risk of developing an abscess.
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.
3. Tooth Fractures
We all know dogs love to chew! However, as a pet parent, you should be aware that chewing on 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. Your vet will be able to help recommend chew toys that are suitable for your dog.
4. Retained Baby Teeth
All puppies have baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth). In most situations, these teeth will fall out by the time your dog reaches 6 months of age. However, there are some cases where these teeth may 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.
If your dog is experiencing this issue then your vet will most likely recommend tooth removal 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.