80% of dogs over the age of 3 years already show signs of gum disease.
Maintaining good dental health in your dog is a lifelong commitment. Dogs have 42 permanent teeth to chew on meat and vegetables, and they need to be well looked after. Unfortunately, dental disease is one of the most common conditions diagnosed in companion animals. 80% of dogs over the age of 3 years already show signs of gum disease.
Common signs of a dental problem:
- Decreased appetite
- Unwillingness to eat hard food
- Bad breath
- Plaque or tartar build up on teeth
- Swollen, red or bleeding gums
- Missing or broken teeth
- Weight loss
- Pawing at mouth
Bad breath occurs in all types of dog breeds. However, as gum disease is more common in toy breeds such as Toy Poodles and Chihuahuas, they tend to be more prone to bad breath. Flat-nosed dogs also suffer from bad breath due to dental disease and bacteria from their nose and throat region.
Common causes of bad breath:
- Dental disease such as gingivitis
- Stomach problem
- Eating malodorous food such as garbage or faecal material
- Intestinal disease
- Metabolic disease
Taking care of your pet's teeth at home is extremely important in reducing plaque formation and the development of dental disease. Plaque control can be achieved through mechanical removals such as brushing teeth or using dental chews or chemical means with veterinary dental products. Nothing is 100% effective and therefore like us, your pet will still require regular dental check-ups and professional cleaning procedures.
Tooth brushing is considered the "gold standard" when performed at least once daily. It is the most effective and cheapest form of plaque prevention. Toothbrushes come in varying sizes and designs: a fine bristle toothbrush head on a standard straight brush is ideal. It's important only to proceed if your pet allows.
When using toothpaste, it is important to use a veterinary one as they are flavoured for pets, have low levels of fluoride and do not foam. Note: human toothpaste can cause stomach irritation if ingested.
Always use a circular sweeping motion, pushing the brush away from the gumline.
The natural chewing motion can help reduce plaque. Some dental treats and commercial dry foods also contain chemical plaque control agents.
It's important to choose chew toys that are made of durable rubber. Avoid toys that can be broken to pieces such as plastic or rubber toys as these can become lodged in the pet's stomach. Harder toys such as rope toys or even rocks and sticks can cause damage to your pet's teeth.
Tips that may help prevent dental disease:
- Daily rinsing and brushing of teeth
- Hard food as it is proven to leave fewer food particles on the teeth than soft food
- Dental chews such as soft rawhides
- Special foods such as veterinary prescription dental diets
- Annual veterinary dental check ups to pick up early disease
- Veterinary dental cleaning as required
- Applying sealants: Usually applied professionally for first application and then at home weekly by owner