Nearly 100% of adult dogs, 3 years of age or older, have some degree of dental disease.

Poor oral health leads to secondary infections and has been associated with organ disease and general poor health.  Here’s how to keep your dog’s teeth clean and him out of the dental chair for as long as possible.

What Does Dental Disease in Dogs Look Like?

Not like what you would expect.  Unlike humans who get blackened teeth and cavities, dental disease in dogs presents itself as bad breath, tartar build up on teeth (yellowish, irregularly formed muck on and in between teeth), calculus (hardened tartar), and infected gums that look bright red where they meet the surface of the tooth.  All of these signs are proof of an active infection in your dog’s mouth.  As long as the bacteria are active in your dog’s mouth, they further compromise the teeth, gums, jaw bone and generally makes your dog feel ill.

Other Signs Of Potentially Serious Oral Health Problems

Dogs that drop a lot of food out of their mouths while eating or eat less may be in pain due to dental disease.  Drooling is also very unusual and should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.  Some dogs have such badly abscessed teeth that pus will stain their muzzle.  Dogs with dental disease that receive dental cleanings behave like new pets.  If you are concerned that your dog is suffering from any degree of dental disease, bring him or her in for a check up and we can make things better.

Small Breeds Are Especially At Risk

All dogs are descents of wolves, so imagine packing the same number of teeth in a Chihuahua’s head that you would in a Husky, but that’s exactly what happened once dog’s were bred for smaller size: everything shrunk except the number of teeth.  Consequently the teeth in small dogs are so tightly packed together that there are ample pockets for food particles to lodge, attract bacteria, and be a source of oral infection.  If you have a small breed dog, you should budget for a professional veterinary dental cleaning for him or her every 3 years starting at the age of three. If you do not, your dog will most likely be the victim of severe dental disease by the age of 7.  He or she will have unbearable breath, abscessed gums, loose teeth, and a low grade, body-wide, systemic infection.

What Can You Do?

Brush your dog’s teeth. Use the video below for an idea on how it is done.  Do NOT use human toothpaste which is likely to make your dog sick.  Use the link below to purchase a toothbrush and some toothpaste that is favored to appeal to dogs from our online pharmacy.  Don’t make the process violent or forceful.  Start slowly by first introducing the toothpaste to your dog on your finger.  Once your dog is comfortable licking the paste, rub your finger in his mouth as he licks.  Later, you can introduce the paste on the surface of the toothbrush and slowly start brushing your dog’s teeth.  It is only necessary to brush the forward facing surface of the tooth.   Your dog doesn’t have to spit or rinse once you are done.  The paste is meant to be eaten and swallowed.

What About Dental Diets and Treats?

Nothing is better than brushing, but dental diets and treats can make a positive impact on your pet’s oral health.  Dental diets like Hills TD, available by prescription at our hospital, are very effective at scraping tartar from your dog’s teeth.  You can pick up a free sample at our office to see if your dog likes it and will eat it before investing in a bag.  CET Chews are palatable treats that contain enzymes that have been proven to reduce the build up of tooth plaque in cats. You can purchase these over-the-counter at our practice or through our online store.