Dogs and humans are largely different - largely carnivorous, dogs have sharp canines and teeth built for consuming meat and grain. But just like for humans, dog dental care is basic hygiene. In reality, dog dental care is often overlooked. In our minds, if our dogs are eating normally, they’re most likely fine - well, not really. Dogs can be pretty good at hiding their pain, and may continue to behave normally. But other than to prevent oral pain, why else is keeping a dog’s teeth clean important?
1. They Lose Loose Teeth
Just like humans, dogs sometimes lose their teeth. However, unlike humans who can go back to business after losing a tooth, dogs may not be able to do so - especially since the reason for a dog losing their teeth could be different. For one, loose teeth could be a result of a buildup of plaque, a substance composed mostly of bacteria. Eventually, this foul-smelling plaque turns hard and yellow - forming tartar.
Over time, your dog might develop something known as Periodontal disease, denoted by white and puffy sections in their gum. Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria from plaque weasels its way into your dog’s gums, slowly consuming the tissue and bone that holds teeth in place. Eventually, when your dog’s teeth stop receiving sufficient support, especially around the roots of their teeth, it will become loose and fall out.
Even with the problem tooth out, the issue may not be resolved yet as these pockets in your dog’s gums allow food, bacteria and other debris to collect and eventually become infections. In serious cases, these infections could manifest as abscesses on your dog’s face, sometimes leading to swelling in the face, among other problems.
2. Affects Their Appetite
Both a symptom and a problem in itself, dogs with loose teeth or other general teeth issues may lose their appetite. For dogs experiencing dental problems, consuming food becomes difficult as they experience more pain in their mouth. This is especially so for dogs who consume kibble or other hard foods.
If your dog is eating less than usual, don’t let sleeping dogs lie. Dental hygiene problems are silent killers - catch the problem early and help your companion avoid a whole host of other health problems. Dog toys that help reduce plaque by gently cleaning your dog’s teeth such asKONG’s Dental Stick will be your dog’s best friend in these cases.
Of course, a lack of appetite could just be a dislike for certain types of food. Offer your dogBARE’s Pork Chompers - an irresistible hard chew that helps clean your pet’s teeth.
Nevertheless, most dogs drop a few teeth over the course of their life and begin having trouble eating, especially as they get older. Some dogs may even lose all their teeth, in which case, the food they are able to consume will change. Many owners switch over to soft or moist food for their dogs, such asStella & Chewy’s Grain-Free Stew to some effect - but in serious cases, dogs with no teeth left may only be able to lap up their food rather than chew.
Accommodating a dog with fewer teeth can involve many changes in both your life and your companion’s life. In the end, your dog’s dental hygiene isn’t just important for their health and wellbeing - it’s important for your peace of mind.
3. Higher Risk For Other Diseases
Other than the aforementioned issues with tooth loss, oral pain and a loss of appetite, poor dental hygiene for your dog could result in a wide range of other health issues.
One major issue occurs often with Periodontal disease: organ damage. Bacteria found in plaque and tartar can enter your dog’s bloodstream, spreading to the heart, kidneys, nervous system and liver. If certain bacteria travel to the heart, it might result in Endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of your dog’s heart chambers. In your dog’s kidney, it could become inflamed, affecting how well your dog’s kidneys can work. The list of potential health problems is endless.
In general, having poor dental hygiene opens your dog’s door to bacterial infections. Keep an eye on your dog’s day to day oral health - but make sure to take them for regular vet visits to get a good grasp on what’s really going on in there.
You can do so by checking your dog’s teeth for discolouration and making sure their breath isn’t particularly foul. You may also want to check that they have a full set of teeth, healthy and firm pink gums, as well as a pinkish tongue (certain breeds of dogs have differently coloured tongues such as the Chow Chow who has a blue-black tongue instead).
There are many things that a pet parent can do to prevent dental diseases, such as by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly or offering them dental chews likeWHIMZEES dental chews - You can check out more tips for healthier dog teethhere.
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.