Our dogs are a lot more concerned with things that rank higher on their list than “dental care.” Things like, “when is my next cuddle sesh with the human?” or “what’s that lizard doing out there?” and “if I’m a good boy, will I get extra treats?”
Okay, so maybe your pup isn’t really thinking all of that, but we’re pretty sure he’s not thinking about brushing his teeth or periodontal disease. But we as pet owners should be thinking about dog dental care to ensure our furry friend is living life with his best, healthiest smile (and life).
What is Periodontal Disease?
By the time your dog reaches 3 years old, there’s an 80% chance that he has some form of dental disease or periodontal disease. Periodontal disease starts when plaque builds up on your pup’s teeth, just like it can on your teeth. Plaque is the gunk that contains leftover food and bacteria. If you’ve ever gone camping or forgotten to brush your teeth for a few days, you’ll notice this gunk starting to build up on your own chompers within just a couple days.
If plaque isn’t dealt with by brushing daily (or at least a few times a week) or by visiting the vet, it can start to harden into tartar. When tartar stays on the teeth, above the gum line, it can still be easily removed during a professional dental cleaning. It’s when the tartar starts creeping below the gumline that inflammation and structural damage can start which can cause infection, pain, and serious dental problems.
Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
You’ll start to notice that your dog might be suffering from dental disease when he’s displaying some of the following symptoms:
Broken or loose teeth
Pain or bleeding in the mouth
Inability to eat or drink
Why Dental Care is Important
Taking care of your dog’s dental health will help prevent more expensive dental procedures in the future (or other procedures for that matter). But besides the costs, there are so many health benefits that will significantly improve the well-being of your pet when you take care of their dental health, such as:
Prevent halitosis (bad breath). Keeping your pet’s mouth healthy has the added benefit of better-smelling breath.
Prevent tooth loss. Too much tartar build-up will damage the supporting structure of your dog’s teeth, causing infection and tooth damage. This can lead to teeth that need to be pulled or will fall out due to decay.
Prevent pain. Have you ever had a cavity? Ouch! Although dogs rarely get cavities, they still often feel pain from abscessed or loose teeth.Keep him healthy and pain-free with great oral hygiene.
Prevent worse dental damage. 80% of dogs have dental disease. Some of it is unavoidable as dental disease often occurs as a result of genetics. The main cause; however, is a lack of proper home care (which we’ll talk about later on in the blog post). Prevent making the situation worse by doing what you can to keep their teeth and mouth healthy!
Prevent organ damage. The bacteria that gets trapped in the plaque can enter the bloodstream and spread to other organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver. Oral hygiene can help prevent the spread of bacteria.
Implementing an Oral Care Regimen
1. Brush those teeth! Grab a soft toothbrush and some pet-safe toothpaste. We recommend this set here that comes with a soft-bristle toothbrush and pet-friendly toothpaste (Note: don’t use human toothpaste as it can contain ingredients such as xylitol that are toxic to animals. Dogs also don’t spit out toothpaste and it isn’t meant to be ingested). Your pet will probably not be excited to start this regimen, so remember that anything is better than nothing, just as long as you’re able to complete a decent brushing at least three times a week. If she doesn’t allow you to do her whole mouth, start with half one day and do the other half the next. Treat your pup after with extra playtime, affection, or a walk to help associate brushing with positivity.
2. When you can’t brush, wipe! If you can’t get a full brush in, a swipe of your dog’s gum line and teeth can still help with removing plaque buildup. Here’s an affordable pack of 50 that are great to pack in a bag for easy on-the-go dental health!
3. Dog dental treats. Your pup will think he’s getting extra spoiled AND you’re getting to help him maintain his oral health - it’s a win-win! These dental treats are formulated with a unique texture to help scrub off extra plaque and tartar while freshening breath! Our store also offers Enzyme-Coated Rawhide Chews For Dogs, which can help prevent plaque and tartar build-up and keep teeth clean! Treat your pup in between brushings with one of these great, healthy treats!
4. Dental toys. For extra dental care, let your dog have fun playing with this teeth cleaning ball. Your dog will have a blast and his teeth will get a good scrubbing while he’s at it!
We recommend your veterinarian take a look at your dog’s teeth at each annual visit. IF you don’t remember the last time you took your pet in to see the vet, now’s the time to make the call.
The biggest piece of advice we can give you in regards to your pet’s dental health is to make sure you take your dog to a certified veterinarian trained in dental procedures to get dental work done. We specialize in offering advanced, safe, and effective dental procedures for those in Santee and in East County, San Diego. To help you make the right choice for the health of your pet, we created a list of the best questions you should ask the next time you head to the veterinarian and inquire about dental procedures. Read them here.