Dog Dental Problems

This is something YOU can do to help your dog—brush their teeth and along the gum line, ideally daily, get appropriate chew toys and foods/treats, and check their mouth for problems.  Think about their teeth in the same way you think about your own (hopefully). Some of the same things can happen—plaque build-up leads to bacteria, and tartar build-up leads to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) which can eventually lead  to periodontal disease which if left untreated can even lead to heart, liver and kidney disease.  Look for bad breath, discolored teeth, bleeding, red or swollen gums.

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Start Brushing Your Dog's Teeth!!
Start Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth!
According to's on-line survey conducted by Survey Monkey, most pet owners are NOT brushing their pet’s teeth and the consequences can be serious. And while the survey size is not large—mainly because cat owner’s wouldn’t own up to never brushing their cat’s teeth, the results are probably relatively accurate.
How Often Do You Brush Your Pet’s Teeth?
                                                        Dog Owners              Cat Owners
Daily                                                         5%                               0
Weekly                                                    10%                              0
Monthly                                                  10%                              0
A Few Times a Year                             14%                              0
Never or Rarely                                    62%                            100%
Dr. David Hansen who is a veterinarian who specializes in dental health discusses signs that your dog or cat may have dental problems, implications of dental disease, and what you can do.
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Learn Why You Should Brush Your Pet's Teeth
Dog and Cat Dental Health – Why It Matters & What You Can Do –
 by Dr. David Hansen, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC
You may own a breed that is predisposed to dental problems, but almost all pets can be affected by periodontal disease.
While 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have signs of dental disease by the time they are three years old, some breeds are more predisposed to dental disease including Pugs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, English Bulldogs, and small breeds such as Maltese, Pekingese, Pomeranians and Shih Tzus. Their mouths are not large enough for their teeth so the teeth are so close together that food gets trapped and the periodontal problem cycle begins. In cats, purebreds often have dental issues, but almost all cats are subject to oral disease as they get older.
Signs That Your Dog May Have Dental Problems
·        Bad breath – Often the first sign of oral disease
·        Chewing on one side of mouth
·        Sensitive to being touched
·        Not eating well, dropping food
·        Rubs its face
·        Drops balls, not carry or retrieving toys
·        Not biting down
·        Reluctance to eat or drink cold substances
·        Facial swelling under an eye or muzzle
·        Inflamed or red gums, teeth missing, brown tartar on teeth
·        Loss of teeth or lose teeth
Signs That Your Cat May Have Dental Problems
·        Sores on the gums or inflamed gums
·        Difficulty eating
·        Reluctance to eat or drink cold substances
Dental Disease Progression
Plaque    .......  Tartar/Calculus   .......      Gingivitis  ........  Periodontal Disease...
Can Lead to Liver, Heart, Kidney Disease, Malnutrition
 Why You Should Care –Implications for Your Pet
·        According to VPI Insurance, they received pet dental claims totaling $3.8 million in 2007, yet only 6.8% of their policy holders have their pet’s teeth professionally cleaned.
·        Dog’s tooth enamel is only 1/10 the thickness of humans and it does not grow back. Dogs have two sets of teeth—28 “baby” teeth and then 42 adult teeth.
·        Dogs and cats accumulate tartar faster than humans, due to the diet and lack of daily brushing.
·        Teeth get stronger as dogs age but in younger dogs and smaller dogs the strength of teeth are weaker.
·        Besides bad breath, inability to eat well and play well, if left untreated periodontal disease can erode bone structure and bacteria and their toxic by-products can enter  the bloodstream and affect major organs including the kidneys, heart and liver.
What You, the Pet Owner, Can Do
·        If you have a pet over 3 years or a breed that is more predisposed to dental problems, pay more attention to your pet’s teeth (prevention is COST EFFECTIVE)
·        Feed your dog dry food that is good for its teeth as soft, moist food offers little cleaning properties. Look for diets with the VOHC seal (Veterinary Oral Health Council).
·        Brush your dog’s teeth 3 times a week and daily if you can. Use toothbrushes designed (longer handle, angled head, extra soft bristles) for pets if you can or use a very soft bristle human toothbrush and for smaller dogs a very soft children’s tooth brush. You can also use finger toothbrushes for pets.
·        Use DOG or CAT toothpaste, as human toothpaste has detergents, sugar, salt or baking soda which may upset a pet’s stomach. Pet toothpaste is made to be ingested (vs. human toothpaste which foams and is spit out) and is often flavored so they will like the taste. To get your pet familiar with the toothbrush, you can initially dip it in beef broth for dogs or tuna juice from a can for cats.
·        Don’t play “tug” games with dogs under 1 year as their teeth strength is still developing and it is easier to damage a tooth.
·        Use a smooth rubber ball instead of tennis balls, as tennis balls have a rough surface and act almost like sandpaper on a dog’s tooth.
·        If it is appropriate for your breed, C.E.T. Virbac chews or similar types of chews can promote dental health.
·        Especially if you have a higher risk pet (older/breed predisposed), include a dental checkup in your annual visit to the vet and/or visit a dental veterinarian specialist.
Latest Technology
·        Digital X-Rays – allow for clear views of the teeth and bone structure
·        Better anesthetics – out quicker and wake up quicker
·        Ability to fix teeth with problems (allowing tooth to remain in place vs. pulling)
·        Better restoration materials and procedures
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