Most of us are pretty good at getting our dogs washed, brushed and clipped when they need it, but how many of us can honestly say we have a good dental hygiene routine in place for our pups?
Why Should I Clean My Dog’s Teeth?
Recent studies show that a shocking 80% of dogs over 3 have dental disease, that means roughly 4 out of 5 young adults are already suffering and without intervention, this could quickly start to cause them problems.
Dogs didn’t have someone following them around with a toothbrush all those years ago in the wild, so what’s changed now?
Well humans and dogs have in fact had dental issues for thousands of years, but in the wild, dogs generally maintained a healthier, more organic diet and natural hygiene routine than they do in modern society. They would clean their teeth by chewing the bones and meat of their prey and would generally consume less carbohydrates and sugar, resulting in less bacteria building up around their teeth.
Good domestic canine foods are developed to ensure they contain the right level of nutrients for our dogs. However, the more processed food that we and our dogs eat, the more likely we are to develop bacteria around our teeth and gums too, so it’s important to maintain a regular cleaning routine.
What is Dental Disease in Dogs?
Dental disease is caused by the build-up of oral bacteria which turns to plaque. Eventually, the plaque will harden and turn to tartar which can lead to tissue damage and receding gums.
The dog’s immune system reacts against the bacteria by producing inflammatory chemicals, which actually cause damage to the tissue supporting the teeth. So, in trying to overcome the issue, the dog’s own immune system can fuel dental disease further.
What are the Symptoms of Dental Disease in Dogs?
- Bad breath or strong oral odour
- Discolouring around the teeth due to plaque and tartar build-up
- Loose, fractured or missing teeth
- Inflamed, swollen or bleeding gums
- Loss of appetite or taking much longer to eat
- Difficulty eating; head-tilting, inconsistent chewing or dropping food
- Difficulty with chewy or hard items
- Whimpering during or after eating
- Pawing or rubbing their mouth
- Reluctance to being touched or examined
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, it’s best to get them checked out straight away so you can start an effective treatment plan and cleaning routine.
Can Dental Disease in Dogs Lead to Other Health Problems?
Dental disease in dogs is a common problem and if left untreated it can cause more serious health problems:
- Abscesses in the root of the tooth
- Osteomyelitis; painful inflammation of the jaw which is commonly caused by bacterial or fungal infections
- Fractures in the jawbone
- Heart disease; with a high concentration of blood flow in the mouth, bacteria can travel around the dog’s circulation, potentially leading to heart failure or liver and kidney damage
- Septicaemia; a life-threatening blood infection which can lead to shock and can be fatal
- Sinusitis; where an infection in the gums travels into the sinuses.
- Poor diabetic control
You can book a dental check at any time with your vets, or you can ask them to include it in your vaccination appointments.
Where can I get my dog’s teeth cleaned?
You can choose to manage your dog’s dental hygiene routine at home, book a check up and clean at your vets, or visit a qualified dog groomer for a cleaning session.
If you opt for home-brushing you’ll need a dog toothbrush, (or a children’s toothbrush) and some specially formulated dog toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste as it can contain products that are highly toxic to your dog. Start gradually by introducing the brush and toothpaste and let your dog get used to the taste, and then slowly build up to brushing a few teeth at a time, making sure you reward your dog well so they start to see it as a positive interaction. It may take a few days or even weeks for your dog to become comfortable with their teeth being cleaned, but it will be worth the effort in the long-run.
JustLoveDogs – Canine Dental Care Specialist
We caught up with Rosie of JustLoveDogs in Windermere to find out more about dental hygiene for dogs.
“It’s really important to build a good dental hygiene routine with your dog early on. It doesn’t matter whether they are a pup or an older rescue dog, we can prevent a whole host of serious illnesses through effective cleaning.
Some owners prefer to home-brush, but others just can’t get their dogs used to it. So that’s where we come in. At JustLoveDogs, we offer Ultrasound Dental Cleaning. This antibacterial deep cleaning technique means there are no brushes or anaesthesia, and it’s great for sensitive teeth and gums.
The whole process is gentle and non-invasive and the first session lasts up to an hour as it includes the consultation and desensitisation. We normally recommend that dogs have cleaning sessions with us every 4-7 days to begin with, and then maintenance sessions are around every 3-4 weeks. We will give you some advice on how to keep on top of their oral hygiene in between visits.
We also offer dog grooming, dog sitting and dog walking services, so if you’re in the Windermere area we’d love to talk to you about how we can help your dog.”