Dogs require a certain level of dental care to prevent a range of health conditions. Today, our Los Angeles County vets explain why dental care is essential to your dog's oral and overall health.
Dental Care For Dogs
If you stopped brushing your own teeth, your mouth will begin to feel scuzzy after several days because of the plaque build-up on your teeth and below your gumline. You will have a bad taste in your mouth and your breath would become practically unbearable. To make things worse, in the long-term, your dentist will probably need to treat you for one or more dental diseases. This is the same for our canine companions. Dogs require dental care in order to preserve their oral and overall health.
If dogs don't receive the right amount of oral health care, they are at risk for dental disease. These problems are relatively common among dogs — by 3 years old, most dogs have some type of dental disease (also called periodontal disease). Dental diseases in dogs can have a serious impact on your pup's long-term health, making dental care essential for your dog.
Dog Dental Diseases
Dental disease can impact your dog's teeth, gums, and supportive structures around the teeth. Plaque (which contains food particles and bacteria) can accumulate on your dog's teeth. If the plaque isn't brushed away with a dog-friendly toothbrush, it stays on their teeth and hardens into calculus (tartar). Tartar above the gum line can be seen easily and can be removed by your veterinarian during a professional dental cleaning.
However, just because your dog's teeth are sparkling white doesn't mean all is well. Tartar that gets under the gumline is a real problem because it damages the supportive structures of the teeth and causes infection and inflammation. This is when serious dental problems, pain, and other symptoms become an issue.
Signs of dental problems in dogs include:
- Inability or refusal to eat or drink
- Bad breath
- Bleeding or painful mouth
- Fractured teeth
- Loose teeth
The Importance of Dental Care For Dogs
Every pet parent wants their dog to have great lifelong dental health. Here are five reasons why attentive dental care is important to your dog's general health.
1. Helps prevent your dog's teeth from falling out
If the structures surrounding a dog's teeth become infected or damaged, it will eventually result in loose and missing teeth. With good dog dental care, you can make sure these supportive structures stay healthy and that the teeth remain in place.
2. Prevents mouth pain
Severe dental disease (or dental disease at any stage) can be very painful for dogs. Keep your pup's teeth and gums healthy in order to prevent oral pain and make sure your dog's teeth keep functioning the way they are supposed to.
3. Prevents your dog from having bad breath
Halitosis or bad breath is a common problem for dogs, but it's actually a sign of dental disease. While a mild odor is normal, a strong smell of fish, poop, acetone, urine, garbage, sewerage, or another scent can be a sign of trouble, such as an infection or bacteria buildup. When your dog's teeth and mouth are healthy, very bad breath won't be an issue.
4. Helps prevent the progression of gum disease
Many dogs have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old. That said, diligent dog dental care can keep dental disease from progressing and causing problems in the rest of your pup's body.
5. Prevents organ damage
As stated above, dental disease can cause organ damage as a result of plaque bacteria entering the bloodstream, traveling to the heart, and spreading to organs such as the liver and kidneys. This can make dogs severely ill quickly. Good oral hygiene prevents the spread of bacteria and subsequent organ damage (along with expensive procedures to correct these problems).
How To Remove Plaque From Your Dog's Teeth
While annual professional dental exams and cleanings are essential, at-home maintenance is also important for your dog's dental health. Here are a few things to add to your at-home routine, to help your dog's teeth stay healthy and clean:
- Brush your dog's teeth. With a dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrush, brush your dog's teeth a few times each week to help them maintain great oral health.
- Provide dental treats. While not all dogs like their teeth brushed or get used to it easily, you can try dog dental treats.
- Give your dog durable dental toys to clean their teeth and freshen their breath. These toys are designed to stand up to your dog's chewing.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.