While your dog’s eyes may be the windows to his or her soul, his mouth is the portal to his overall health. Your vet can tell a lot about your dog’s health by examining a dog’s teeth and their mouths. Here are 10 truths you should know about your dog’s oral health.
Dog Oral Health: 10 Facts You Need to Know
Keep these dog dental health tips in mind when it comes to taking care of your dog from head to toe.
- Bad breath is a clue that oral health needs attention. Dog breath isn’t just a nasty side effect of getting kisses from your pooch or a sign that their dinner was stinky—it’s an indicator that a dog’s teeth and their dental care could use a little extra TLC.
- Regular brushing is important. Pet owners should aim to brush their dog’s teeth daily or at least a few times a week with a toothpaste for dogs for healthy dog teeth and in order to maintain optimal oral health for dogs. This can help prevent plaque buildup that leads to tartar and periodontal disease in dogs.
- The color of your dog’s teeth matters. When teeth are discolored it’s a sign that tartar might be taking over his mouth which could mean they have dead teeth. Your vet can help you determine if the yellow or brown tooth is a surface tooth problem like staining and a common issue or, if it’s a more serious issue related to the tooth’s root and causing a pink, purple, gray, blue or black tooth.
- Note where the tartar and plaque are in his mouth. That black tartar you see above your dog’s gumline isn’t necessarily a threat to his oral health when it’s addressed quickly before it becomes full-blown periodontal disease. When the tartar forms below the gumline—and yes it can be hard to see in certain areas—it can lead to tooth infection which causes pain and eventually can result in tooth loss. Not only is periodontal disease in dogs painful for them, but it can lead to heart, liver, and kidney problems.
- Pay attention to your dog’s appetite. If your dog normally has a healthy appetite and seems to be struggling to get dinner down, it could mean they have a dog dental problem like an infected tooth or an abscessed tooth. If that problem worsens or isn’t fixed, it could lead to tooth loss or even respiratory infections down the line.
- Note any problems chewing. Does your furry friend seem to keep spitting out their food even though you know it’s a favorite? Or they no longer want to play with a chew toy? He might have a loose tooth or be experiencing tooth pain. Tooth loss tends to be more common in senior dogs. Any time your dog has a change in appetite or is struggling to eat, call your veterinarian to schedule a checkup.
- Be on the lookout for bleeding gums. Just like bleeding gums are a sign that humans have gingivitis, the same is true for dogs. Let your vet know if your dog’s gums are bleeding or look inflamed as that’s a sign that their oral health needs attention. Untreated bleeding gums that become periodontitis could lead to tooth loss, bone loss, as well as heart disease.
- Dog dental disease could make diabetes worse. When a dog’s dental health is in jeopardy, it could lead to inflammation that impacts their blood sugar metabolism. If your dog already has diabetes—or has insulin and blood sugar sensitivities—taking good care of their mouth is important for keeping their diabetes under control.
- Pet dental products can help. Using a dental chew like WHIMZEES daily can help fight bacteria that leads to plaque and tartar buildup. One reason that it reduces plaque better than other products is because it takes dogs longer to chew, providing more “cleaning time” for their teeth.
- Professional dog dental cleanings are important. You should take your dog for an annual oral examination by a vet or veterinary dentist. Ideally, your dog would get a full tooth exam (under anesthesia) and X-rays that can give a full picture of what’s going on.