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Shut Your Mouth! Oral Disorders in Dogs

Dog Dental DiseaseThe key to proper dental health for you pet is to take care of their teeth with regular cleanings and brushing. But knowing your dental disease and what to watch for will help you with your quest.

Know Your Mouth Disorders

Knowing the signs and symptoms of mouth disorders will help you know if you can treat at home or if it is time to call the vet.

  • Periodontal disease is a painful infection between the tooth and the gum that can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the rest of the body. Signs are loose teeth, bad breath, tooth pain, sneezing and nasal discharge.
  • Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused mainly by accumulation of plaque, tartar and disease-producing bacteria above and below the gum line. Signs include bleeding, red, swollen gums and bad breath. It is reversible with regular teeth cleanings.
  • Halitosis—or bad breath—can be the first sign of a mouth problem and is caused by bacteria growing from food particles caught between the teeth or by gum infection. Regular tooth-brushings are the best way to fight it. Read here on how to clean your dogs teeth.
  • Swollen gums develop when tartar builds up and food gets stuck between the teeth. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth at home and getting annual cleanings at the vet can prevent tartar and gingivitis.
  • Proliferating gum disease occurs when the gum grows over the teeth and must be treated to avoid gum infection. An inherited condition common to boxers and bull terriers, it can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Mouth tumors appear as lumps in the gums. Sometimes these can be malignant and must be surgically removed. Get in touch with your vet to get any tumor, or suspicious lump, checked out.
  • Salivary cysts look like large, fluid-filled blisters under the tongue, but can also develop near the corners of the jaw. They require drainage, and the damaged saliva gland must be removed. If your dog has a cyst, or you think they might, get them to the vet. Do not try to drain a cyst at home. This is a procedure that needs to be done at the vet. Your vet may even want to put your dog on antibiotics after the draining to make sure no infection develops.
  • Canine distemper teeth can occur if a dog had distemper as a puppy. Adult teeth can appear looking eroded and can often decay. As damage is permanent, decayed teeth should be removed by a vet.

The best way to fight most oral disorders is regular dental check-ups by your vet, regular brushing and proper diet.

Top 10 Tips for (Dog) Teeth!

pet_dental_monthDid you know that keeping your dogs teeth healthy is an important part of their overall health. Maybe that bad breath isn’t just because they eat dog food, tug toys and chew on rocks. It could be a sign that something is wrong with their oral health.  You can be the first line of defense by giving your pup regular home checkups.

1.The Breathalizer

Give your dogs breath a sniff.  Ok, so they might not have the best breath and that is normal However, if their breath smells really awful. I mean truly offensive and it is paired with loss of appetite, vomiting, or excessive drinking or urinating, then you should take your dog to the vet.

2. Giving Lip

About once a week take a peek into your dogs mouth. Lift up his lips and take a look at his gums and teeth. His gums should be pink, nor white or red, and should show no signs of swelling.  His teeth should be clean and white, and with no brownish tartar.

3. Oral Disease: Signs and Symptoms

Here are signs that your dog may be having gastrointestinal issues.

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tumors in the gums
  • Cysts under the tongue
  • Loose teeth

If you notice these signs, you should take your dog into the vet to get checked.

4. The Truth on Tooth Decay

What causes Tooth Decay?  Bacteria build-up on a dogs teeth. This bacteria can be caused, or encouraged, by plaque-forming food. The plaque hardens into tartar which can lead to gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss.

The solution?  Regular teeth cleanings!

5. Brushing Your Dogs Teeth

First you need to get a dog toothbrush. Yes, there are toothbrushes meant just for your pooch. If you don’t have one, wrap some soft gauze around your finger. Then get some dog toothpaste. If there are toothbrushes made for your dog you can be sure that there is toothpaste made safe just for your pup. If you don’t have dog toothpaste, you can make your own by using baking soda and water. Just make sure not to use Floride on puppies less than 6 months of age, it can interfere with their enamel formation. Do NOT use human toothpaste, it can irritate their stomach and might make them mildly ill. And since you asked, the is also special mouthwash for dogs…just ask your vet.

Now that you have all the supplies, take your dog toothpaste put it on your dog toothbrush and give those teeth a scrubbing!

6. How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Most dogs don’t like the idea of having their teeth brushed. Here are some simple steps to help you both through the process.

  • Massage your dogs lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. Then move on to her teeth and gums. This will help her get use to having your touch and do things to her teeth and gums.
  • Once he gets comfortable with your fingers all over his teeth, put a bit of the dog toothpaste on his lips to get him use to the taste.
  • Then put the dog toothbrush in their mouth, but don’t brush their teeth. Just get them use to the feel of it in their mouth, on their gums and teeth.
  • Lastly, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing.

A vet exam is a good idea before you start. The vet can check to see if her gums are inflamed and check the overall dental health of your dog. If your dog has gingivitis, hard brushing can hurt her gums.  Being aware of any mouth tenderness will help to have a successful tooth brushing.

7. Brushing Technique

Of course there is a technique! Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and clean in small circular motions. Only work one area at a time, lifting the gums to get full access to all parts of the mouth. You dog may resist you brushing the inside of the teeth. Don’t worry about that too much. Only a small amount of tartar accumulates there.

Once you have your technique down, try to brush your dogs teeth 2-3 times a week.

8. Stop the Sweets and Give Good Treats

We all like the occasional treat but many dog treats are not good for your dogs teeth. Some treats may be bad for your dog but some can be good for them as well. Ask your vet about treats that will help remove soft tartar and improve your pups breath.

9. Chew on This

Dogs have a natural desire to chew. Chew toys are a great way to satisfy this desire while making teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy will also massage the gums and help scrape off soft tartar. An additional benefit is chewing on a toy will also help reduce your dog’s overall stress levels and help prevent boredom.

Your vet may even sell chew toys that will benefit your dogs oral health.

10. Diet for Healthy Teeth

Just like for people, what you eat affects your teeth. Your dogs food can be helping or hurting their dental health.  Ask your vet for recommendations for dog food that is good for their teeth and helps reduce tartar and plaque.

4 Reasons Why It’s Important To Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Spay or neuter your petYou’ve probably heard that it’s important to spay or neuter your pet. For whatever reason, however, maybe you’re still on the fence about whether it’s really necessary. It’s time to jump off that fence and onto the side of righteousness! Which is to say, it is absolutely, hands-down, without a doubt imperative to spay or neuter your pet. Here’s why.

Pet Overpopulation

The biggest reason to get your dog or cat neutered is pet overpopulation. More than four million pets are euthanized every year simply because there aren’t enough loving homes to meet the demand. Unless you’re a professional breeder, there is no reason your pet should have puppies or kittens. There are countless animals out there that need homes—the last thing we should do is add to that number. Even if you think your pet is strictly an indoor animal that has no contact with any potential mates, there’s no way you can know for sure. If you fail to spay or neuter your pet, you are actively contributing to the animal population problem. Be part of the solution by getting your pet spayed or neutered, and by adopting your pets from rescue shelters.

Reduces Health Problems

In both male and female dogs and cats, spaying and neutering reduces a variety of health problems that could spell early death for your pet. Spaying female pets prior to their first reproductive cycle eliminates the risk of breast and uterine cancer, as well as the possibility of uterine infections. For male pets, neutering helps prevent testicular cancer, enlargement of the prostate gland, and perianal tumors. Unneutered males are also more likely to roam around in search of a mate, increasing the likelihood that they could get hit by a car or meet some other unfortunate end. It’s impossible to justify risking your pet’s life by not getting them spayed or neutered.

Behavior Improvements

Some people believe that spaying or neutering their pet will bring about negative personality changes. In reality, the opposite is true. As previously mentioned, males are less likely to roam when the drive to find a mate is eliminated, meaning they’ll become less restless and more at ease with staying put. Males also tend to become less aggressive and get along better with other pets when neutered. When reproductively active female pets go into heat, they tend to become agitated, pacing around the house, making lots of noise, and sometimes even urinating all over everything. In short, a spayed or neutered pet is a happy pet.

Cost Effective

One reason people don’t neuter or spay their pets is because they think it’s too expensive (Check out our promotions for money saving coupons on spays and neuters). Compared to the costs of caring for a litter of puppies or kittens, however, the price of spaying and neutering is negligible. Many shelters and clinics offer low-cost spaying/neutering options, bringing the price down even further. It’s important to remember that, between medical bills, food, grooming, and a variety of other expenses, owning a pet can be quite expensive. If you’re not willing to invest a little bit more to get your pet spayed or neutered, maybe pet-owning isn’t for you.

If you have any questions about getting your pet spayed or neutered, contact a veterinarian to get the info you need to help your pets live long, happy, healthy lives. If you are the type of animal loving person who wants to help raise awareness about proper pet owning techniques or help animals live the best lives possible, the path of the veterinary tech may be for you.


Julie Lee is a freelance blogger who writes about veterinary tech college programs and animal health topics.

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The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.