Who doesn’t love coming back home from work to a smiley and kissy pup face? Doggie kisses are even better when they are not smelly. Luckily this is something that is not that hard to achieve. Just like humans, dogs require regular dental cleaning and preventive oral care. A dog’s fresh breath depends on a healthy diet, daily cleaning routine, frequency of veterinary dental care to care for any possible dental problems.
How do you know if your pup has dental problems?
A bad-smelling breath would be the first indication. Depending on how severe the dental issues are, your pup might also have difficulties when eating, especially dry food, bleeding gums, refusal to play with chew toys and excessive salivation. Most of these signs appear as a consequence of pain, which is aggravated by chewing and by possible infections.
Regular veterinary checkups and teeth examinations are the best ways to get an accurate diagnosis and catch dental issues in their early forms. Your dog’s veterinarian will perform a physical evaluation of the mouth and teeth, to observe eventual gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth fractures, tooth decay or cavities, and other abnormalities. The veterinary doctor might also suggest a radiological examination if any dental problem is suspected.
Some of the most important dental problems and treatment methods include:
- Bacterial plaque – which is a biofilm or very thin layer that forms on teeth surface after every meal. If teeth are not properly cleaned, this plaque becomes solid and turns into tartar. In time, tartar will build up and lead to gum inflammation. Depending on the amount of tartar, your pup may have a discrete bad breath. If you are at this point, don`t worry, because tartar is easy to clean with weekly brushings, especially after eating wet food. Veterinary regular dental cleaning is also a good idea to prevent further tartar accumulation and other complications that might cause toothache to your pup.
- Gingivitis –is an inflammation of gums and, in general, follows untreated tartar. If your dog has gingivitis, you may observe that he or she has a more pronounced bad breath, swelling on the edge of the gums, with color ranging from red to purple and a tendency to bleed when touched or during meals. Still, your pup is safe, as this issue is reversible. Treatment is easy to achieve with professional veterinary cleaning and a little bit of help and attention from your side. From here on, you simply have to stick to the cleaning routine so that the gum inflammation does not come back or become even worse.
- Periodontal disease – occurs after untreated gingivitis and this condition refers to the inflammation of teeth supporting structures, such as ligaments and surrounding bone. Unfortunately, unlike tartar and gum inflammation, this disease is irreversible. Dogs eating soft or wet food are more prone to periodontal disease as there is no mechanical cleaning effect generated by chewing dry food. If your pup suffers from this condition, you may observe a pronounced bad breath. If you lift your dog’s upper lip, you will see that he or she has large amounts of tartar build-up, especially on the cheek side of the upper teeth. Also, your dog may have difficulties when trying to eat dry food or even refuse it entirely due to severe pain caused by the exposure of dental roots. Your dog’s veterinarian might require a full mouth radiological examination and will also suggest thorough dental cleaning and even tooth extractions.
- Endodontic disease – affect the internal structures of teeth and include fractures and tooth decay. Treatment consists of either removal of the impacted teeth and dental roots or, if possible, root canal treatment. In these situations, your dog may experience pain, lack of appetite, or swellings caused by infections. Fortunately, endodontic diseases don’t affect all teeth. Your veterinarian will guide you with regard to further issues that may occur.
Here are a few things you can do to prevent bad breath and dental issues:
- Five minutes weekly brushings: Aside from the medical procedures performed by a specialized veterinarian, oral hygiene in dogs should also include dental brushings performed at home. Although daily brushings might be challenging to accomplish, once a week, five-minutes of teeth cleaning is very healthy and beneficial. Pet companies support you in your mission of caring for your pup with various types of toothpastes that are plant-based, enzyme-based, with baking soda, and many other formulas or flavors to please your dog. DO NOT use toothpaste destined for humans as it may contain xylitol which is an artificial sweetener associated with severe low blood sugar and liver damage. Regular brushings can dissolve bacterial plaque, keep fresh breath and prevent many painful dental problems. To make the procedure less stressful for your pup, you should get him or her used with teeth brushing from an early age.
- Dental sticks: you can offer your dog an occasional chewy dental stick to keep a fresher breath. These treats might prove even more beneficial after wet food meals that tend to stick to the surface of teeth and promote bacterial plaque build-up. The dental stick should be offered as a preventive measure and less as treatment, or when you don’t have enough time to brush your dog’s teeth. Chew sticks should be all-natural and low in calories for a healthy metabolism and weight. Some products are plant-based, giving your pup a minty fresh breath, while others are supplemented with joint supporting vitamins and minerals. You just need to see what your furry friend prefers.
- Dog chew toothbrush toy: some dogs might not be thrilled about the weekly toothbrushings. Others might not like dental sticks or may be allergic to specific proteins or compounds in the product. Don`t worry, there is still hope, especially if your pup likes toys. Dog chew toothbrushes approved by veterinarians allow your dog to take over the daily dental cleaning in a fun way. Most chew toothbrushes are very entertaining for dogs and are made from a durable all-natural, non-toxic rubber.
By cleaning your dog’s teeth, not only that you will get fresh kisses when you get home, but your pup will live a happier and pain-free life. A specialized veterinary doctor can guide you through the routine care and dental work required for your furry friend.