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Dental Issues In Dogs

November 1, 2023

Did you know that gum disease is extremely prevalent in our canine companions? According to research by Cornell University, as many as 90% of dogs over the age of three have gum disease. Fido can also be afflicted by many other issues. A local vet discusses doggy dental woes in this article from Hassayampa Veterinary Services, serving Wickenburg and the surrounding communities.

Common Issues

As mentioned above, gum disease is extremely common in dogs. As with people, it is painless and asymptomatic in its early stages, but can lead to tooth shifting and/or loss. Plus, the infection can spread to Fido’s heart, liver, and kidneys. Overcrowding is another common problem, and one that we often see in small dogs. (Little pooches just don’t have a lot of room for the 42 adult teeth most dogs have!) Other issues that may afflict our canine buddies include abscesses, infections, and misalignments. Dogs also have a tendency to crack or break their teeth playing with sticks and other hard objects.

Warning Signs

Fido can’t tell you if his teeth hurt, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for warning signs. Some things to watch for include bad breath; excessive, ropy, or bloody drool; swelling; bleeding gums; and visible tartar buildup. Dogs also sometimes give off clues through their behavior and eating habits. Your furry friend may not feel very playful, and he may act grumpy, withdrawn, or sad. Pets with dental issues may also dribble food, chew on one side of their mouth, eat more slowly than usual, or show a marked preference for soft foods. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these red flags. Dental problems can be both very dangerous and very painful!

Caring For Fido’s Teeth

While some issues, such as malocclusion (misalignments) are genetic, others, such as gum disease, can be prevented or at least slowed with proper care. The most effective thing you can do would be to brush Fido’s teeth. Use only products made for dogs, and take time to get your pup used to the process. Of course, some pooches just won’t tolerate having their choppers cleaned. Don’t force the issue. Instead, ask your vet to recommend doggy dental products. Oral rinses, dental flakes, dental treats and chews, and dental-formula kibble are all formulated to fight plaque and tartar. 

Our Advice on Dental Issues in Dogs in 2024

How common is gum disease in dogs?

Gum disease is extremely common in dogs, with research indicating that up to 90% of canines over the age of three are affected. This condition, while painless and asymptomatic in its early stages, can lead to severe complications, including tooth loss and infections spreading to vital organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys if left untreated. Regular dental care and check-ups are crucial for preventing and managing gum disease. For dog owners in Wickenburg and the surrounding areas, Hassayampa Veterinary Services offers comprehensive dental evaluations and treatments tailored to your pet’s needs.

What are some signs of dental problems in dogs?

Signs of dental problems in dogs include bad breath, excessive or bloody drool, swollen gums, bleeding gums, visible tartar buildup, and changes in behavior or eating habits. Dogs may show less interest in play, appear grumpy or withdrawn, dribble food, chew on one side of the mouth, eat more slowly, or prefer soft foods. These symptoms can indicate dental issues ranging from gum disease to tooth fractures, which can be both dangerous and painful. Prompt veterinary attention is advised for any of these warning signs to ensure proper care and treatment.

With so many dental chews available, is there any guidance on choosing safe and effective chews for dogs?

When selecting dental chews for dogs, look for products that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). These chews have been tested for safety and efficacy in reducing plaque and tartar. Choosing chews appropriate for your dog’s size and chewing habits is also essential to prevent choking or digestive issues. Avoid hard objects that could crack teeth. Consult with a veterinarian for personalized recommendations, especially for dogs with existing dental issues. For residents near Wickenburg, AZ, Hassayampa Veterinary Services can provide guidance tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

What is the procedure like for a dog dental cleaning?

A dog dental cleaning typically involves a thorough examination followed by scaling to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line, then polishing to smooth tooth surfaces. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia to ensure the dog’s comfort and safety, allowing for a comprehensive cleaning and examination for any dental issues. Pre-anesthetic bloodwork may be recommended to assess the dog’s overall health. Post-cleaning, the veterinarian might provide specific care instructions.

Are there alternative at-home methods for dogs who resist brushing entirely?

For dogs resistant to brushing, alternative at-home dental care methods include oral rinses, water additives, dental diets, and specific dental treats designed to reduce plaque and tartar. These products work by mechanical action from chewing or contain ingredients that help maintain oral hygiene. Always choose items specifically formulated for dogs and approved by veterinary dental associations for safety and efficacy. Consultation with a veterinarian can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s health, dietary needs, and preferences.

Do you have questions about doggy dental care? Contact us here at Hassayampa Veterinary Services, serving Wickenburg and the surrounding communities, today!

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