Dog Dental Health and Hygiene

Start brushing their teeth as puppies!
Start brushing their teeth as puppies! | Source

Canine Oral Health and Dental Hygiene

Did you know that doggie breath can be a silent killer?

Yet paying attention to your dog's breath can help them live a long, healthy life.

Oral disease is one of the most common and frequently diagnosed diseases in dogs. As in humans, good oral health care is extremely important for animals as well. Not only will good oral hygiene preserve teeth and prevent bad breath, it has a huge impact on the animals overall health.

Gingivitis is Reversible With Proper Oral Hygiene

Oral disease begins with soft plaque buildup on the dogs teeth. The formation of plaque starts with saliva and food particles that adhere to the teeth and attract bacteria. If the soft plaque is not removed by simple brushing, minerals in drinking water combined with calcium found in the dog’s saliva quickly harden the plaque into tarter (dental calculus).

Tartar is a brownish/yellowish colored buildup on the teeth. If the tarter is not removed, it will continue to build up affecting the gums and tissue that support the teeth. Small pockets will form that trap food and bacteria. This is the earliest sign of oral disease called gingivitis. This build up of bacteria irritates the gums causing them to become inflamed (red) and swollen. The gums may also easily bleed when touched.

SnowBear, Buttons and Betsy Wetsy:  very accustomed to having their teeth brushed!
SnowBear, Buttons and Betsy Wetsy: very accustomed to having their teeth brushed! | Source

Periodontal Disease is Irreversible

Without proper oral hygiene, continuation of gingivitis develops into periodontal disease. The roots of the teeth become infected and the teeth begin to loosen. Eventually, the teeth detach from the gums. Dogs are often in pain and suffer in silence.

Through these infected oral areas, bacteria can potentially enter the animal’s bloodstream. The bacteria can cause a threat to the immune system. If this happens, damage to other organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys can occur. This is sometimes referred to as "the silent killer." The overall health and lifespan of the dog can be greatly compromised.

Betsy Wetsy is looking a little depressed.  Not because of her oral health.  Her teeth are cleaned often.  She's upset because she can't find anyone to play fetch.
Betsy Wetsy is looking a little depressed. Not because of her oral health. Her teeth are cleaned often. She's upset because she can't find anyone to play fetch. | Source

Warning Signs of Canine Oral Disease

  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Reluctant eating
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Dropping food
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Acting lethargic
  • Appearing depressed

Oral disease becomes even more prevalent in older dogs.  Maggie (Magpie) likes her snow covered tennis ball!
Oral disease becomes even more prevalent in older dogs. Maggie (Magpie) likes her snow covered tennis ball! | Source

Pet Food Company Marketing

Marketing techniques by pet food companies give the impression that some dry pet food will take care of removing plaque and tartar. Although dry food does help, the areas susceptible to periodontal disease are often not touched by the chewing/scraping action. In addition, most dogs do not chew their food completely. Therefore, brushing the teeth and gum line where most dental problems begin remains important in the prevention of oral disease.

Did You Know?

  • Dogs start out with 28 baby teeth and are replaced by 42 permanent teeth. Cats start out with 26 baby teeth and are replaced by 30 permanent teeth.
  • According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three.
  • Every year, February is designated as Pet Dental Health Month. Various organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) promote pet dental health awareness campaigns.

Toy breeds like my lil Buttons are more prone to oral disease.  I miss my special guy!  12/16/95 - 8/20/10
Toy breeds like my lil Buttons are more prone to oral disease. I miss my special guy! 12/16/95 - 8/20/10 | Source

HOW OFTEN DO YOU BRUSH YOUR DOG'S TEETH?

  • Daily
  • A couple times a week
  • About once a month
  • Never
  • I only take my dog to the vet for dental cleanings
See results without voting

Managing Your Dog's Oral Health

There is a high prevalence of periodontal disease in dogs, especially smaller dogs and all dogs as they age. The good news is these oral health issues can be controlled.

Brushing your dog’s (and cat’s too) teeth should be done daily or at least a few times a week to be effective. It only takes a few minutes and can add years to your pet’s life. Always use specially formulated toothpaste for your pet. Never use human toothpaste because it may be toxic. As long as the surfaces of the teeth are brushed frequently to remove the softer plaque, the gums will remain healthy. Once the plaque hardens into tartar, it must be scrapped off the tooth.

Dogs that eat dry crunchy food and chew on hard bones or biscuits will have less tartar build up than those dogs that eat soft food. You can also purchase specially formulated food recommended to combat plaque and tartar buildup. But keep in mind that this does not eliminate the need for brushing.

In addition to brushing your dogs teeth routinely at home, regular veterinary checkups are important to catch problems before they become serious. Your veterinarian may suggest a professional teeth cleaning. Any time you suspect an oral health problem, schedule a dental exam as soon as possible.

Remember . . . proper oral hygiene for your dog can add many more years of happiness for them and you too! AND, the same care applies for our feline friends as well. Best Wishes!

This is Sharyn's Slant

Learn How To Brush Your Dog's Teeth

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Comments 31 comments

David Warren profile image

David Warren 5 years ago from Nevada

Hi Sharyn!

Great Hub, great information and loved the pics. I spent A LOT of money on our cats' teeth. Learned this the hard way. Hopefully this hub will prevent some pet owners from letting their cat or dogs teeth and gums get worse unknowingly. Voted up.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hey David,

Thanks for being the first to stop by! You are SO right. I believe many people end up learning the hard way. It's not always something that we think about until it becomes a major, costly problem. I appreciate your comments and vote too. Thanks! Have a great day,

Sharyn


dearabbysmom profile image

dearabbysmom 5 years ago from Indiana

Sharon, it's so true...bad doggie breath usually means something is amiss with the teeth. This is great information and will help people stay on top of the problem instead of waiting till teeth have to be extracted due to pain or the dog becomes gravely ill. You've done a service to canine-kind!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

It's amazing how far we've come in the knowledge we know today for our Pet's Care. This is a Wonderful Hub Sharyn, very informative...so much I didn't know. I love the pictures, and the Video on "How to Bush your Dogs Teeth. Well done!


MysteriousOne profile image

MysteriousOne 5 years ago

Very good piece of information here,Ms.Sharyn...being a groomer for many years....I was always asked for advice about these problems....Great hub and voted up!


Schatzie Speaks profile image

Schatzie Speaks 5 years ago from US

wow, i didn't know that the minerals in water contributed to gum disease! that is very interesting. thanks for writing this, im going to have to start brushing my cockapoos teeth! :)


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hello D.A.M.,

How are you? Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm sure that many people do not realize how important it is to brush your pets teeth. The problems that eventually arise due to poor hygiene can be life threatening. Hope you have a great Sunday!

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

b. Malin,

Thank you so much for awesome comments. I hope this information helps others have their pets around for as long as possible. Take care,

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hey M.O.,

So glad to see you stop by! I'm sure being a groomer, you certainly heard many questions about oral hygiene and also saw first hand how bad a pet's teeth can get when not properly taken care of. Thanks so much for your votes!

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hello Schatzie,

Thanks for stopping by. Definitely start brushing your pets teeth. There are so many important benefits. Have a great day!

Sharyn


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...you are doing a wonderful public service here for all pet owners and of course dog lovers - and don't forget 'men' who love your hubs (with two cats) lol lol - and I have a new one at my hub you may be interested in: Animal shelter blues


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Good Morning Epi,

Thanks for checking this out. I appreciate you stopping by. I will definitely check out your new piece. I am SO behind in my reading and just haven't had the time to get to everything. I hope you have a beautiful day!

Sharyn


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Nice information, Sharyn's. You got my vote. Thanks for share this with us. Cheers..

Prasetio


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hello prasetio,

Thank you so much for your loyal following, comment and votes. I appreciate YOU! Have a beautiful day!

Sharyn


MysteriousOne profile image

MysteriousOne 5 years ago

Shayn, this is very good information! Being a dog groomer, I tried to educate my clients about these things.Great hub!

Kudos ,my friend!

M.O.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Thanks for stopping by MO ~ I appreciate your visit. Hope you are enjoying your weekend!


MysteriousOne profile image

MysteriousOne 5 years ago

Thanks, you too, Sharyn


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Oh, thank you so much for this great and informative hub. Our "babies" love women like you who speak out on their behalf. I know what I need to do for Clancey (shi tzu)...brush his teeth daily, not monthly. You are a sweetheart and thanks again. Clancey just told me to rate your article up and awesome, so that's exactly what I will do. :)


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Aw VC,

That is so sweet. Thank you for your wonderful comments. Clancey, thank you too sweetie. I'm glad your mom is gonna brush your teeth daily. You are one lucky lil guy! Take care :)

Sharyn


LisaKoski profile image

LisaKoski 4 years ago from WA

Great hub. Unfortunately, I didn't learn this information until it was too late for my dog and we had to put her down a few years ago. The vet told us if we'd have taken care of her teeth, she may not have suffered and her heart could have lasted her longer. Now I make sure to take care of the dogs I have and keep their teeth nice and healthy.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Lisa ~ I'm so sorry to hear about your doggy. There are many people that don't realize how important canine oral care is. I did not know either years ago. It's really the same as humans. Not taking care of our teeth can lead to a variety of other health problems. I really appreciate your feedback. btw, it's great to meet you!

Sharyn


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Sharyn - I just gave my dog a chew bone. Haha. Thanks for this great hub. I'm afraid I'm not that good about brushing my pets' teeth, but I definitely try to incorporate anti-tartar bones and snacks into their diet. These are great tips and I'll ask my vet how in the world to brush their teeth without getting an arm taken off. LOL.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Cyndi ~ Hope he enjoyed the bone! It's difficult to get used to brushing a dog's teeth especially if it was not started as a puppy. The anti-tartar type bones (and food too) help but not necessarily enough to prevent future problems. Hold on to your arm, ha! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sharyn


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

I am off to brush her teeth right now! Thank you for this informative hub!


Relationshipc profile image

Relationshipc 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

This is so very important! Teeth are so neglected on animals, mostly because of lack of knowledge about their importance in an animals health.

I knew one Papillon who would have lived many more years, but because her teeth were neglected, she ended up getting serious infections and very sick.

Many dogs are actually chewing on some bully sticks right now, and we do give them bones as well.

Important and extensive hub for animal health!


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

My mom makes fun of me, but I have always taken care of my dog's teeth. She doesn't clean her dog's teeth and had to have her teeth cleaned at the vets, which came with a nice price tag, including anesthesia. My pups have fantastic teeth, even though they are 5, because I brush them, give the dogs bones to chew on, and make sure to feed them dry food. Dog dental hygiene is so important! Thanks for highlighting it in this hub.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Audrey ~ Well, that was quick :) So glad this article prompted you to brush your dog's teeth. Good for you & her. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Sharyn


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

This is an extremely important health issue for dogs. At the same time, do not take the teeth cleaning process lightly with your pet. Through personal experience, my wife and I learned the hard way...seeing our eight year Shih Tsu bleed to death after having her trachea ripped up by careless professionals. Make sure that you don't cut corners and be absolutely sure that those working on your pet really care. Animals can also have adverse effects to anestesia....pay for that blood test as part of the process...it is money well spent. ~WB


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hello Relationshipc ~ I agree about the lack of knowledge. I believe there are people who never ever thought about brushing their dogs teeth. I've known animals too that ended up very sick from dental problems. It does affect their life span. They say the same is true with humans. I really appreciate you stopping by to read and comment. Thank you so much.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Natasha ~ oh no, your mom just doesn't know how important it is. What you are doing is great. Your dogs are very fortunate. And you are so right. Having a dog's teeth cleaned at the vet is expensive and then there's the anesthesia risks too. Thank you so much for your great feedback.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Wayne ~ Oh my gosh, your story just breaks my heart. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. What a horrible experience. My dog Buttons, who is in the photos above, had problems the first time he had surgery to be "fixed" when he was a puppy. The vet scared me thinking that I should never have him put under for anything else. I think they told me he had a "distended artery" or something like that.

As Buttons got older, his teeth got pretty bad, especially because he was 1) a toy breed, 2) purebred 3) and on Phenobarb for many years for seizures. I finally decided to ask about having his teeth cleaned by the vet when he was around 10 years old. I was very scared and asked (a million) questions beforehand. And yes, I did have the special blood work done first. The vet also used "light anesthetic" because of his conditions. It all worked out fine. But I was afraid to ever have that done again. And I took the best care of his teeth that I could.

Thank you so much for sharing your story. Having a "dental" done at the vet is not something that should be taken lightly. It's a surgery and all precautions necessary should be taken. I'm sure your feedback will help others, thank you again.

Sharyn

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