No matter how much you care for your dog, you always need to put in some extra efforts to maintain their dental hygiene. Although it’s not easy to care for an extremely active dog’s teeth, then again, if you don’t it could result in severe periodontal diseases. Additionally, poor dental care makes way for many other diseases. Most of the time, it’s hard to identify if your poor pupper is suffering or not since they are excellent at camouflaging any signs of sickness.
Wondering if you should panic? That depends. Here are the five consequences of ignoring your dog’s dental care that cannot only negatively impact their tooth and gum line but can consequently affect their general health and well-being too.
Risk of Heart Diseases
As per the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), it is evident that dental issues are related to cardiopulmonary syndromes. If a dog has periodontal diseases (infections in the tooth), it is six times more likely to get diagnosed with endocarditis (inflammation on the heart wall linings) than dogs without periodontal diseases.
Many dog patients are simultaneously diagnosed with heart and periodontal diseases. Although it’s not yet determined what are the causes and effects of dental issues that link to heart diseases, experts found that the refined bacteria found in arteries of the heart are the same ones found in the mouth. Therefore, it can be concluded that bacteria present in the dog’s mouth is what causes heart problems.
Yes, dogs also get diabetes! According to vets, diabetic dogs are diagnosed with the high amount of dental disease. In fact, either of these diseases can give rise to the other. Dental issues can worsen a diabetic dog’s health majorly, and once the diseases get a foothold, it takes a very long time to heal. Although it is almost impossible to determine whether your dog acquired diabetes first or their periodontal diseases, however, infections and inflammation related to your dog’s teeth can adversely influence their metabolism. Once the vet addresses the affected tooth, diabetes stabilizes by itself.
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You might have never seen your dog in pain, have you? That’s because they are very talented at hiding their weaknesses. Moreover, if they are eating and behaving as if nothing is wrong, then there’s no way for you to understand if something went wrong. You must remember, your dog’s appetite is his/her strongest drive. They simply cannot resist food! Dogs can easily evade chomping on the painful tooth. But when your dog seems to be struggling with eating or chewing, food spilling out of their mouths despite their best efforts, then you must understand that there’s an excruciating level of pain involved.
Look for symptoms such as the desire to eat, bleeding gums, drooling, swelling, which normally indicates a dog having dental issues. By the time they started showing these signs, it’s probably quite late. Chances are, your pet dog had been quietly living with the pain for some time now. Save your precious pooch this pain and maintain good dental care before they reach this stage.
The bacteria that triggers the immune system originates from dental infections and soon usually results in inflammation. The inflammatory reaction kills the bacteria but then it also destroys surrounding tissues in the process. As a result, it causes tissue loss, pain and more infection in the surrounding tissues since your dog will be poking around the swelling. The more serious the dental issue is, the more it is likely for the bacteria to travel to the other parts of the body.
Dental infections cause an increase in inflammatory mediators and lead to bacteremia (a state whereby bacteria appear in the blood) causing the maximum damage. Decreasing inflammation by treating dental issues can have a great impact on your dog’s health because it reduces the effort that their body has to put in, in order to fight the infection.
Unfortunate but true, dogs can end up with a permanently broken jawbone because of poor dental habits. Particularly, smaller breeds like Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, and Maltese that have disproportionately large teeth. Dental infection in these dogs can relatively weaken their little jaws and simple activities like hopping out of the bed might result in the fracturing of their jaw. Although it’s not really common in dogs if, by any chance it happens, it can be very serious and painful for your beloved pet. Plus, it won’t be possible to completely heal the fractured jaw as the jaw bone is not really a healthy one.
Causes of Dog Dental Health
Cavities are not really a common problem in dogs, but there are many other dental problems that may arise:
- Broken roots and teeth
- Periodontal diseases
- Swelling or infected tooth
- Tumors or cysts in their mouth
- Misalignment of their teeth
- Broken jawbone
- Palate defects
By the time your pet dog turns 3 years, they are likely to get periodontal diseases (the most common dental condition in dogs). Or even worse, they might even start to show some early signs of periodontal disease when they are much younger. This will only worsen if precautionary measures are not taken. As we’ve already mentioned, periodontal disease not only affects your pet dog’s mouth but also spreads the bacteria into the other parts of the body such as kidney, heart muscles and liver and cause organ failure in worst case scenarios. Since dogs’ health deteriorate quickly once affected, one cannot completely disregard extreme outcomes.
It all starts with a plaque that eventually hardens into tartar. Tartar, which is above the gum line, can still be easily removed without being too painful. But the plaque and tartar below the gum line are harmful as well as hurtful for your dog, which usually stems into infections and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the teeth to the jawbone.
It’s usually a deep dental cleaning and x-rays that help verify the depth of the disease. However, your vet might perform an overall health test to provide you with a proper diagnosis and variable treatment options.
Tips to Improve Your Dog’s Dental Health
As we know very well the bacteria present in the tooth can affect the kidney, heart, and liver if it escalates into the whole bloodstream and can also lead to tooth loss. Here are some tips on how you can keep your pet dog’s mouth healthy:
- Dental Routine
You must have a routine of brushing your teeth and taking care of your oral hygiene by yourself, right? Similarly, you can create a dental routine for your furry friend too. Dogs also form plaque and tartar in and around their tooth that can lead to severe dental problems if it’s not taken care of. Regular brushing of your dog’s tooth is mandatory, but if it’s not possible for you to brush regularly, you must brush it at a minimum of twice a week to get satisfactory results. Ensure that the dog toothbrush you choose is safe and comfortable for your dog and check to use dog toothpaste and mouth cleaners that are specifically designed for them. Also, when you brush your dog’s teeth, look for any rubbles caught in their gums, and any symptoms of tooth mold.
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- Dental Exams
Regular brushing of your pet’s tooth can help you get rid of the tartar and plaque in their teeth. Normally, vets recommend pet owners to get an oral hygiene exam and a professional clean-up for dogs once a year. The professional clean-up usually involves an in-depth cleaning of the bacteria below their gum line. Besides, the vets anesthetize the dog to complete the procedure, which makes it easier for the dog. You might be a little squeamish about performing anesthesia on your dog, but it’s a regular process to be administered. Furthermore, you can talk it out to your vet about the dental cleanings and what makes it so important for you to get it for your dog. Your vet would be happy to enlighten you with more information.
- Dog Chewing
Chewing is normal for dogs. They will chew anything and everything. Remember when you and your furry friend play ‘fetch’, he just wouldn’t want to let go of the toy he’s so busy chewing on. Chewing is good for your dog. Chewing toys, ropes, bones and rawhide provides friction along their gum line and acts as a natural flosser. Get your dog some of those dog dental chews that are of appropriate shape and size. Allow them to chew on those for healthier teeth making sure to replace them when they wore out. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, provide them with hard bones and durable toys. But if he/she has delicate teeth, you may try giving them softer chewing stuff or latex toys.
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- Monitor their Diet
Their diet is very much related to their general oral health. Therefore, ensure to feed them nutritionally balanced food. If dental health is what’s causing problems for your dog’s overall health, you may try serving them dried-crispy foods that are specifically formulated and the ones that they don’t crumble. Many dog foods obstruct the growth of bacteria and the formation of plaque. Consult with your vet in advance before bringing about any major changes in your dog’s food and check that you choose foods that have got the seal of Veterinary Oral Health Care (VOHC). Avoid serving them food that contains a high amount of carbs and sugar. Keep an eye on your canine and don’t let them wander around trash or yard or anywhere else where they find stuff to munch on.
- Specialized Dog Treats for Their Teeth
Similar to dog dental chews, dental treats are designed to encourage chewing action, helping to cut down the plaque and tartar. Offer your pet treats that have a VOHC seal. It guarantees a reduction in tartar and plaque levels from your dog’s teeth. Dog dental treats come in an array of shapes, sizes, flavors, and textures. Find the ones that are made from natural extracts so that your dog doesn’t have to consume artificial colors or flavors. Don’t serve these treats to your dog in large amounts as they are just snacking and shouldn’t be consumed in loads.
Following these five pieces of advice to improve your dog’s dental health and your pet dog will thank you every time they show you that smile!
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Prevent Dental Disease in Dogs
We’ve already discussed your dog’s diet and how you can improve your dog’s dental health, here are some ways you can prevent your dog from getting dental problems in the first place:
- Ozonated Water
Ozonated water is a great way of flushing out your dog’s mouth. Hence, you can make them drink this, as a means of keeping their mouth fresh from an early age. You can buy and ozone maker and make your own ozonated water, or you can even buy them at stores.
- Feed Bone Broth to Your Dog
Make bone broth and feed it at least quite a few times in a week to your canine. It’s packed with minerals that help in strengthening the teeth and gums. Generally, a lot of pet owners recommend oxtail for its strong nutritional benefits. You may give it a try!
- Coconut Oil for their Gums
Coconut oil is an-bacterial, which makes it an excellent remedy for gums. Just take some of it on your finger or gauze wrapped around your finger and brush it on your dog’s teeth and gums with it instead of dog toothpaste.
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- Aloe Vera for Pain
Aloe Vera gel is extremely soothing. Get one of those natural and organic aloe vera gel from an aloe vera tree, not the one in a tube from the drugstore. Put the gel directly on your dog’s teeth and gums if your dog is suffering from pain or inflammation in his/her mouth.
Inspect your dog’s mouth once a week so that you can identify any problems before it’s too late. You can also use the tips mentioned above with any issues that come up. Remember, keeping your dog’s mouth clean and healthy will protect his overall health too. Something as simple as dental disease can lead to something very serious.
Let us know in the comments section if your canine ever faced any dental issues and what remedies you used to cope up with it.
- Pet Dental Care, AVMA
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.