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Canine Dental Care

Updated on December 11, 2012

Dog Teeth and a Swift Tongue

Clean teeth are an indicator that your dog is in good health!
Clean teeth are an indicator that your dog is in good health! | Source

Is Bad Dog Breath Normal

The majority of people who have dogs resolve themselves to believe that dogs "just come with bad breath". This could not be further from the truth. Tooth and gum problems are the most common medical problem in dogs. Close to 85% of two-year-old dogs show some sign of gum disease. Because the mouth is actually the very first step in the digestion process, it is considered to be the clear indicator of just how good a dog's health really is.

Gum Disease in Dogs

Warning Signs of Advanced Gum Disease in Dogs

Since your dog can't tell you when he is having pain or discomfort, you have to employ due diligence in caring for his health; which includes the important well-being of his mouth. Here are a few sure signs of gum disease in your dog:

  • Bad breath
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Yellow-brownish tartar build-up on teeth
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Drooling
  • Change in attitude (a little pissy even)
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Dropping bits of food on the floor
  • Favoring one side of mouth when chewing
  • Not interested in playing with toys
  • Hesitant to eat

What You Think Really Does Matter!

Would you consider brushing your dog's teeth?

See results

What Causes Gum Disease in Dogs

If a dog's gums and teeth are not exercised regularly, plaque will build up on the surface of the teeth. This plaque build-up pushes the gums away from the tooth's surface—increasing the margin between the gums and teeth. 80% of plaque is made up of bacteria, leaving the rest of it to be made up of tiny leftover food debris and saliva. Your dog's diet and plaque formation are directly related; some say wet foods contribute to the production of plaque more so than dry crunchy Dog foods.

How Can You Prevent Gum Disease in Your Dog's Mouth

By having our dog simply chew on (not swallow) firm rawhide products, the plaque production on your dog's teeth can be reduced by 25%. (Be sure to take away any rawhide that becomes flabby—it becomes useless and can grow very nasty bacteria).

Doggy Pearly-Whites!

Clean plaque-free teeth and healthy tight pink gums are a sure sign that your dog has good health and fresh breath!
Clean plaque-free teeth and healthy tight pink gums are a sure sign that your dog has good health and fresh breath! | Source

Dog Teeth and Mouth Problems

Tartar Build-up On Dog Teeth

If left unchecked, plaque will build up on your dog's teeth, turning into hardened tartar that you can actually see. Tartar will widen the gap between the gums and teeth, which is a perfect environment for bacterial growth! The saliva is unable to make it through the tartar to flush the area. This allows the bacteria to build a life deeper and more harmful in your dog's mouth. If this situation is left unattended, the gums decay and become ulcerated, the bone breaks down, teeth loosen and eventually fall out.

Abscesses, Cavities, and Tooth Fractures in Dogs

Vigorously chewing on something hard can cause painful abscesses, cavities, and fractures to your dog's teeth. Most of these are associated with bad dog breath. (Ulcers can be caused by injury, allergy, infection, or poor nutrition.)

Should Dogs Have Real Bones?

Chewing on the skin and bones of prey is good for keeping the jaw muscles in good shape, and also cleans a dog's teeth. Whether you should give your dog real bones is still a great debate among dog experts and vets. Raw bones are less likely to splinter than are cooked bones, it's true; but they do have the very unhealthy and life threatening concern of Salmonella bacteria. Hard-cooked bones can fracture teeth, and swallowing bones is a common and painful cause of intestinal blockages in dogs, which often need surgery.

If think you want to give your dog real bones, you must introduce them early in life so the dog can master how to chew thoroughly. Never give an adult dog bones for the first time, they simply don't have the know-how to handle them.

Do Dogs Get Cavities

Due to their non-acidic saliva, and low-carbohydrate diets, bacteria can't stay attached very well to a dog's tooth surface enamel. K9s do in fact get cavaties, but it is a pretty rare occurrence. If you find out that your dog has one or two cavities—I would be inclined to check the candy bowl for paw prints!

Tooth and Gum Disease Progression in Dogs

Progression of tooth and gum disease in dogs
Progression of tooth and gum disease in dogs | Source

What About Brushing My Dog's Teeth

Brushing your dog's teeth is a great way to ensure dental health in your dog. Here are a few things you need to know before you begin:

  1. Only use dog specific toothpaste on your pet.
  2. Never use human toothpaste on your dog. If too much fluoride is swallowed it can make your dog sick.
  3. Be patient and allow the dog to get used to the taste and having you working on his mouth.
  4. Get your dog familiar with teeth scrubbing by first using your finger, then next time use gauze, then finally work up to an actual toothbrush.
  5. Brushing the outside of the teeth is most important, but if you can manage it, get the inside as well.

The video below shows you just how to get this dental care underway, and in less than 2 minutes!

Learn How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth in minutes!

Conventional Treatment for Dog Dental Problems

Common Treatment for dog Dental Conditions

No matter how old or how bad the condition of your dog's teeth and gums have become, it is never too late to begin a healthy canine dental care program. The health of your furry friend depends on you to take action! There are several ways to contend with your dog's dental care needs, the chart below can give you a few ways to approach your canine's gum and mouth condition.

Conventional Treatment for Dog Dental Care Table

(click column header to sort results)
Tooth removal or root-canal
Eroded tooth enamel
Tooth removal or root-canal
Deep infections
Bad breath, (may be due to gingivitis, digestive problems, metabolic condition-like kindey failure)
Requires diagnosis of cause and appropriate treatment (Antiseptics, antibiotics, painkillers, corticosteroids)
Mouth ulcers (treated according to cause)
Antiseptics, antibiotics, painkillers, corticosteroids
Information derived from Dr. B. Fogle, DVM, MRCVS

Comments for "Canine Dental Care"

Submit a Comment
  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 

    7 years ago from Florida

    Hi, I always learn something new when I read your Hubs. You do such a great job with your research and formatting of your Hubs. Thanks for all this info. Voted UP, etc.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    7 years ago from Northern, California

    theclevercat~ You always make me laugh! It is not my most favorite task in caring for my pets, but it is indeed a needed one. I totally get your "Eeeyuckk!" remark! :)


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    7 years ago from Northern, California

    Pamela99~ I have tried to brush our cat's teethe, in doing so, I learned that this process is best left to our vet! But her teeth are very pretty. Thanks for making it by Pam, I so enjoying seeing you here.


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    7 years ago from Northern, California

    AJRRT~ I am so glad you stopped by, Welcome to HubPages! I hope you find your experience here fun and fantastic! Thanks for sharing your comments.


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    7 years ago from Northern, California

    Sunshine625~ lol! Maybe you can clarify the dental drill topic for my dog!? He is not that thrilled with me brushing teeth either, but he knows that a treat is waiting in the wings! Thank you for sharing your comments.


  • theclevercat profile image

    Rachel Vega 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts

    Eeeyuck! Lol

    Although I'm a cat person, this was really informative and now I know how to brush my friends' dogs' teeth. Thanks! Voted up and gross... I mean, interesting!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Excellent detailed information that is very important for your dog. We even get our cat's teeth cleaned. Rated up and useful.

  • AJRRT profile image


    7 years ago from Sheffield, AL

    WOW! Great article and so detailed and informative. Voted up, voted useful. I am new to HubPages. After reading this article, I will definitely be following you.

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 

    7 years ago from Orlando, FL

    So many dog owners might never have thought about how important dental care is for their precious pets until they read this hub. My dog doesn't like me brushing her teeth, but she deals with it...I've explained that the dental drill is NO fun at ALL!:)

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    7 years ago from Northern, California

    Cardisa~ You know a lot of people don't really think about their dog's dental hygiene. But it has a huge effect on their health. Teeth and gums are a direct indication that something is either wrong, or that an animal is in good condition. All of that bacterial build-up can reek havoc on an immune system!

    Thank you for making it by for a doggy dental read, I appreciate your time!


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    7 years ago from Northern, California

    Shesabutterfly~ Oh, I just LOVE puppies! I hope she is bringing you tons of entertainment and joy!

    As for rawhide, it is an outstanding chew toy for plaque removal, but if it gets too flabby and too much is swallowed it can create serious intestinal problems. Alexadry wrote a great hub about this that you may find helpful, it is;

    "Dog Ate Rawhide: Dangers of Eating Rawhide Bones and Signs of Trouble".

    I hope you and your puppy have a super long and healthy life together!


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    7 years ago from Northern, California

    brittanytodd~ Thank you for your kind remarks ma'am. I guess dog bad breath is a pretty gross topic. It's funny, I almost titled this hub 'Why Does My Dog Have Such Gross Bad Breath'...but decided against it! lol!

    I sure appreciate that you made it by today.


  • Cardisa profile image

    Carolee Samuda 

    7 years ago from Jamaica

    Wow, I never took the time to learn about this before, but I do know that dry food and crunchy stuff are good for their dental health. No I am a little freaked out about the receding gums thing. I can imagine how painful that must be.

  • Shesabutterfly profile image

    Cholee Clay 

    7 years ago from Wisconsin

    My puppy just turned a year and she has perfect teeth and fresh breath, so I'm hoping to keep it that way. You mentioned not swallowing rawhide material, is this bad for the dog?

    This is a very informative article and I will be sharing it with my friend whose dog has terrible breath. Maybe this will open him up to asking the vet about problems his dog could be having. I know his dog's breath didn't always smell as bad as it does right now.

  • brittanytodd profile image

    Brittany Kennedy 

    7 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

    This was gross, but very informative and well-written, K9keystrokes! I always think your articles are formatted so well. You did some great work here. Excellent research, voted up, useful, etc.


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