In this blog, our Turlock will help you recognize dental problems in your dog, discuss common issues, and provide guidance on prevention and treatments to alleviate your pup's pain and maintain their overall health.
Your Dog's Oral Health
Your dog's dental health is closely connected to their overall well-being. Dogs use their teeth, gums, and mouths for eating and communicating. When these oral parts are unhealthy or damaged, it can cause pain and affect their ability to eat and make sounds.
Oral problems like infections and bacteria that won't remain confined to your dog's mouth. Left untreated, these bacteria and infections can spread and infect other parts of your pet's body, damaging vital organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys. This may lead to more serious negative consequences for your canine friend's health and longevity.
That's why regular pet dental care, often referred to as veterinary dentistry, is vital. Scheduled dental cleaning can prevent issues or help your vet spot and treat problems early, keeping your furry friend healthier and happier.
How to Spot Dental Issues in Dogs
While particular symptoms will vary based on symptoms, your dog may be suffering from a dental disease if you see any of these behaviors or conditions.
Some common symptoms of dental disease in dogs can include:
- Visible tartar
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Difficulty or slow eating
- Pawing at the teeth or mouth
- Loose or missing teeth
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Swollen, bleeding, or noticeably red gums
Have you noticed any of the signs of dental disease in your dog that are listed above? If so, bring them to your Turlock vet as soon as possible for an examination. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to good prognoses for dental disease in dogs and better outcomes for their long-term health.
Common Dog Dental Problems
Several potential health issues can impact your dog's teeth, gums, and other oral structures. Here are a few common conditions to watch out for.
Plaque & Tartar Buildup
Plaque, a white buildup on teeth, is mainly bacteria. It smells bad as it sits on your teeth. This whitish substance is a biofilm that develops on the teeth and is accompanied by a bad odor that worsens the longer it remains in the mouth. Plaque buildup can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
If you don't brush within about 24 to 48 hours, it hardens into tartar, a yellow or brown-colored substance your veterinarian calls calculus. Tartar remains attached to the surfaces of the teeth and cannot be removed without being scraped off with a dental scaler or other hard object.
Tartar causes tooth decay and gum irritation to grow worse. Plaque and tartar leave your dog at high risk for tooth loss and gum disease. Common signs include discolored deposits on teeth, a red, swollen gum line (referred to as gingivitis), and bad breath. Owners may notice more frequent bleeding gums and worsening breath as dental disease progresses.
When plaque and tartar stick around in your dog's mouth, they let harmful bacteria sneak under the gum line. Eroding tissue and bone that hold your dog's teeth in place. Periodontal disease starts with gingivitis. Soft tissue and bone loss surrounding the teeth occurs as the disease progresses. The teeth's support structures degrade, and pockets develop around the tooth roots.
This can lead to dangerous infections. Eventually, your dog's teeth become loose and may even fall out.
If periodontal disease develops, bacteria can make its way into the open space around tooth roots, leading to infection, which may manifest as a tooth root abscess.
Pus then develops in the bacteria-laden pocket around the tooth to fight the infection. Left untreated, the abscess may become so large that it leads to swelling in the face and anatomical deformity.
While oral infections are often caused by periodontal disease, they often happen secondary to trauma in the mouth. Trauma may be due to injury from chewing on hard or sharp objects.
If your dog loves to chew, be careful! Chewing on really tough stuff like plastic, antlers, or bones. Most vets say it's a bad idea to let your dog chew on something harder than what you'd hit your knee with.
The size of chews can also factor into the occurrence of tooth fractures - a chew that's too large for a dog's mouth may make the tooth and chew line up, breaking the outside of a tooth (known as a slab fracture).
Your veterinarian may recommend picking chews that are small enough to hold in the mouth without swallowing by accident. However, these are not so large that your dog will need to have a fully open mouth to safely chew on them.
Preventing Dental Issues in Dogs
The most reliable way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your dog's teeth is routine brushing and cleaning of your cat's mouth. If plaque is brushed away before it can cause damage or infection, you'll give your dog a much better chance of healthier teeth and gums.
To keep your pup's teeth in great condition and their breath fresh, schedule your pet for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Pet dental appointments at Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital are similar to taking your animal for an appointment at the veterinary dog or cat dentist. We can also treat any emerging dental health issues your dog may be experiencing.
While there's no official "veterinary dentist," our veterinarian cares for the pet's teeth in and around Turlock.
To prevent dental problems, start cleaning your puppy's teeth and try dog dental chews.
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.