Doggy Breath…is it Normal?
Dental disease is the most commonly diagnosed disease in dogs!
80% of dogs (and 70% of cats) have dental disease by the age of 3 years old.
Cavities are rarely seen; periodontal disease (inflammation or infection of the gums around the teeth) is the main problem seen in our pets.
It is caused by a build-up of plaque (a biofilm formed by bacteria) in which calcium salts are deposited to form tartar (or calculus, a hard substance that can no longer be brushed away). Tartar damages the gums and causes gingivitis (reversible gum infection) and receding gums, followed by periodontal disease (irreversible, causing infections and bone loss around the tooth) eventually leading to tooth loss.
The mouth bacteria can also enter the bloodstream and cause minute infections in other organs, including the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs.
Signs of dental disease can include:
- Bad breath
- A change in eating habits, not wanting to chew on toys
- A painful mouth (not wanting the mouth being touched)
- Excessive drooling
- Rubbing the face on the ground or pawing at the face
- …even weight loss
Dental disease can be diagnosed by your vet, and based on the findings, dental homecare and/or a dental cleaning may be recommended. Dental cleaning needs to be done under a general anaesthetic (usually a day procedure) and sometimes teeth may be so badly affected they cannot be saved and need to be removed.
Prevention and home maintenance:
The gold standard of dental care is for you to brush your pet’s teeth.
Please contact the clinic for a homecare sheet on how to get your pet used to this – most dogs are happy to let you do it, with a little patience and training – and nicely flavoured doggy toothpaste.
Other ways to help slow down the build-up of tartar include:
- Special dental diets (e.g. eukanuba range, hills T/D, oral care etc)
- Special dental chews incl. Greenies and dentastix, raw carrot
- Special mouth washes or water additives to help dissolve plaque
- Raw bones with meat attached – however some dogs can’t handle bones, and there is a risk of bones getting stuck in the oesophagus – an emergency situation!! So be careful giving raw bones to your dog, maybe speak to your vet.
NB: never give a dog cooked bones, they cannot be digested, splinter and can damage the guts or cause obstructions.
Sticks, stones, Frisbees, hard nylon chew toys and tennis balls can damage teeth and gums!