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Taking Care of Your Dog's Dental Health

Some owners do not think about their dog's oral and dental health and skip things like brushing their teeth regularly and carrying out routine checks at home. Sadly this leads to dogs with teeth rotting, who then have trouble eating and are in pain. Dental health in your dog is just as important as your own dental health. Keeping his teeth and gums in good repair is as important as grooming him or making sure he has the right nutrition. It also helps to know what to look for so as well as oral signs of something not being right we will also look at common oral diseases and how to take better care of him.


What We Know from Research

It was once thought that dogs could not suffer from cavities or that dental health in dogs was less of an issue than other areas. However one of the most common diseases dogs suffer from is Periodontal disease. Whether it is immune mediated diseases to gum disease, from cavities/lesions to infection, to loss of teeth there are a large number of oral health issues that can affect a dog that if ignored can be quite debilitating. An infection in the mouth if ignored can lead draining tracks, swelling in the face and a possible spread of infection throughout the body.

Learning to monitor your dog's dental health can help identify problems early which makes diagnosis and treatment a lot more likely to be successful. Oral tumors for example if spotted earlier rather than later can surgically be removed with a lot of success.

Signs to Look for When Monitoring Your Dog's Dental Health

Here are some usual signs of something being wrong with your dog's oral health;

Bad breath


Chewing causes him to show pain or discomfort or even crying

Red gums

Gums that bleed

Under the tongue may reveal cysts

Drooling more

Teeth becoming loose

Inflamed gums

Facial swelling


Dog chews only on one side

Oral Diseases Dogs can Suffer From

Halitosis –

The first sing of poor oral health is Halitosis when occurs when particles of food get trapped in the teeth, or when there is an infection in the gums. This can be prevented and treated with regular brushing.

Gingivitis –

Gums become swollen and red and receding can sometimes happen. It happens when a lot of plaque and then tartar forms over the teeth which leads to microorganisms breeding which can cause disease. Symptoms include gum inflammation, redness, discomfort in the dog when eating. Regular cleaning can prevent it.

Periodontal disease –

This is a common disease in dogs and is when the tissues around the tooth become infected. There is pain, loss of teeth, infection that can spread, bad breath and your dog has difficulty eating or chewing. Regular cleaning gums and teeth can prevent it.

Proliferating gum –

With this problem the gum expands and covers the teeth. This needs medication to be treated.

Canine distemper -

This affects puppies more than older dogs as they are more vulnerable to infection. Symptoms include loss of appetite, fever, a mild eye infection, depression. This is something that can be vaccinated against so make sure you dog gets his shots. Your vet will have to treat your dog if this is the problem.

Salivary cysts –

A problem or cyst in the saliva gland shows symptoms of a bulge under his neck or tongue or at the corners of the jaw, drooling, difficulty chewing.

How to Prevent Dental Disease

Get your dog used to brushing his teeth from a young age.

Brush at least 3 times a week, daily is better.

Do not use your own toothpaste as most contain fluoride which is not good for him.

Use a toothbrush made specifically for dogs.

Use a toothpaste made for dogs, they come in several flavors so find one yours likes.

Brush him when he is calm not when he is in a playful mood.

Observe your dog as he eats to check he is not showing any discomfort.

If you observe bad breath but do not see anything wrong with his teeth take him for a check up at his vet.

Let your dog chew on bones and chew toys as this is a good way to keep his teeth and gums healthy by removing some tartar and keeping them strong.

You can get professional teeth cleaning for your dog once or twice a year or more if you notice they need it.

There are some vets who specialize in dental and oral health and offer a variety of services. He can offer advice on how to take care of your dog's dental health, work with your vet if your dog has any problems.


How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

Starting from a young age will get the dog used to his mouth being touched and he will at least tolerate the process without causing a lot of fuss. It will become part of his normal routine. You can start by just touching his lips and teeth and gums a couple of times a day when they are calm. Reward them when they let you do it without pulling away and praise them. When they are used to this action and let you do it without any fuss you can move on to using a brush to touch their teeth. Then move up to trying to brush. You may not get all of them brushed in one go at first. This is something you can build up to over time.

When he is ready to let you brush using a proper dog toothbrush and doggy toothpaste he doesn't mind the flavor of you can try to get in a better cleaning. To clean his teeth put the brush at a 45 degree angle and make small movements in a circular motion.