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.