Taking care of your dog's teeth is crucial for their oral and overall physical well-being. Our veterinarians at Clearlake have compiled a list of common indications and varieties of dental issues that dogs may experience.
Dental Care for Dogs
Similar to humans, it is crucial to maintain cleanliness in dogs' mouths to ensure their overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, a majority of dogs do not receive the necessary dental care to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
In Clearlake, our veterinarians frequently encounter dogs displaying symptoms of gum disease (periodontal disease) or other dental issues as early as 3 years old. Such an early onset of dental disease can have severe long-term health implications.
The best way to maintain your dog's oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam.
How can I tell if my dog has a dental issue?
As a dog owner, spotting the initial indications of dental problems in your pet can be challenging. However, if you observe any of the following symptoms, it's crucial to schedule a visit with your veterinarian:
- 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
Common Dog Dental Issues
1. Periodontal Disease
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, can happen to your pup when there is too much plaque on their teeth. Plaque is a thin, sticky film of bacteria that can harden into tartar if not removed regularly. Tartar is harder to remove than plaque and can make things worse.
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. This infection can cause a good deal of pain for your dog and can result in a tooth root abscess.
A tooth infection can have negative impacts on your dog's overall health, not just their oral health. Just like humans, dogs with periodontal disease have been found to have links to heart disease. This is because bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and cause damage to the heart and other organs. In addition to the obvious pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth, these health issues can also occur.
3. Tooth Fractures
As a pet parent, it's important to recognize that dogs have a natural tendency to chew. But, it's crucial to understand that chewing on certain items like bones or hard plastic can be harmful to their teeth. Such items can cause fractures or breakage in their teeth. Also, if your dog chews on an object that is too large for their mouth, it increases the likelihood of tooth fractures.
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.
4. Retained Baby Teeth
Most puppies have baby teeth, also known as deciduous teeth. Normally, these teeth will fall out naturally by the time your dog is 6 months old. However, sometimes some teeth may not fall out, leading to overcrowding. This can cause additional plaque buildup and make it more challenging to maintain your pup's oral hygiene.
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.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.