February is National Pet Dental Health Month, but keeping dogs healthy should be a daily ritual for pet owners all year long. This is typically the month when we remember that our furry friends don’t carry a toothbrush around with them and so a dog's teeth may need a little extra special attention. Whether a dog, cat, rabbit or other species, let’s remember our pets by lovingly looking after their teeth. Dog dental care needs to be taken seriously.
Paying Attention to Dog Dental Care
Dental checks are as important to animals as they are to us and looking after their health significantly prevents oral problems they may have in the future. Red gums, stinky breath, or yellow teeth could lead to an oral disease if left untreated, giving your pet a poor quality of life and nobody wants that! This National Pet Dental Health Month let’s prioritize our dog's teeth as much as we do their stomachs.
Brushing your dog's teeth may not be at the top of your to do list, but according to the American Veterinary Dental Society (and the American Veterinary Medical Association), 80 to 85 percent of all pets have periodontal disease. That number jumps to 100 percent in pets over 4 years of age. In fact, it is the number one health problem diagnosed in most dogs and cats.
Dogs Rarely Show Signs of Pain and Discomfort
Your pet may be in chronic pain, but you wouldn’t know it. Why?
Dogs have evolved to hide chronic pain, they are born in such a way that their animal instincts tell them not to show signs of weaknesses. That goes for a dog's teeth too.
Even with a cracked tooth or periodontal disease that damages gums around the teeth, your dog would probably eat normally, wiggle happily at your return home, and overall act like the same dog you know and love. Dogs are five times more prone to gum diseases than humans for a couple of reasons. Dogs have a more alkaline mouth, which promotes plaque formation. And, unlike humans, dogs usually don't have their teeth brushed daily. We have gathered up some of the most common signs and symptoms that could potentially mean your dog might be suffering from a dental disease.
Dog dental care is important to the overall health of your pet because it affects the health of the heart, lungs and kidneys, which is why it is important to provide your pet with proper daily dental care before there is a problem. February is the perfect time to get into the habit of caring for your dog's teeth more vigilantly since it is National Pet Dental Health Month. Help protect your pet from periodontal disease, untreated dental disease, tartar buildup, and more.
Good oral health is just as important for dogs and cats as it is for the rest of your family. Your pets rely on their teeth to eat and defend themselves. Problems with teeth and gums don't just cause your pet pain and discomfort, but also puts them at risk of developing life-threatening health issues. You can help your dog or cat stay healthy by taking good care of their teeth and learning how to spot these common warning signs.
1. Bad Breath
We are aware that pets don’t always have the best reputations for fresh breath, but if the odor isn't directly related to something they ate, it can sometimes indicate that bacteria and plaque have built up in their mouths. A dog's breath can be vert telling. Bad breath can mean advanced periodontal disease. This puts their teeth at risk of decay.
If a dog's breath smells particularly foul (like rotten eggs), this could be early signs that they have a disease, which needs treatment from their vet. A study by the American Veterinary Dental Society found that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have gum disease in some form by the age of three. The risk is even higher for smaller dog breeds.
Keep in mind, there’s more at stake than just smelly breath for a dog. Untreated periodontal disease can damage your pup's teeth and jaws over time and is one of the major causes of tooth loss. Infections caused by this type of disease have been linked with diseases of the heart, liver and kidneys, so you should talk to your vet if you notice any unusual odors.
2. Yellow or Discolored Teeth
If you notice yellow or brown stains on your dog's teeth, especially around the gum line, there is a good chance it could be dental plaque. Brushing their teeth with special toothpaste and feeding them dental treats can actually help prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar buildup.
Existing plaque and tartar needs to be carefully removed by a vet to reduce the risk of your dog or cat getting tooth decay. Talk to your veterinarian about options and different methods of dental cleaning available to prevent plaque buildup and enforce healthy teeth. Dog dental chews and proper pet dental care can often help with this issue.
If you look inside your dog’s mouth and see a gray or brownish film covering the teeth, especially around the gumline, it’s time to schedule a cleaning.
3. Broken or Loose Teeth
Broken or loose teeth could be the result of an injury, but more often these symptoms are caused by the tooth and gum decay associated with dental disease. Either way, your dog will be more comfortable if you schedule a check-up to remove broken teeth. They can also be dangerous if left untreated.
4. Changes in Eating Habits
Any sudden change in your pet's appetite or chewing is a cause for concern, particularly when they don’t want to eat their regular food. Along with wider health concerns, symptoms of gum disease (like infections or swollen gums) might even cause a dog or cat to stop eating or chewing altogether. If you notice your dog chewing on one side or being unable to grasp food in the mouth then it’s likely she has dental disease or tooth decay.
You should speak to your vet right away if your furry friend’s appetite has changed - especially if there have been no big changes to their diet.
5. Pain, Excessive Drooling, or Blood in/Around the Mouth
Did you know: dogs have a higher tolerance for pain than humans, so it may take a while to notice your dog is in distress. Pawing around the mouth, excess drooling, and even blood are all typical symptoms associated with dental disease.
6. Swollen or Bleeding Gums
Inflamed, red and swollen gums, and even bleeding gums can be signs that your pet has gum disease or another infection, which may cause toothaches or discomfort in their jaws. Mouth swelling in your canine companion can mean dental issues. Your vet can provide an accurate diagnosis and give more insight to the cause of the problem and recommend a treatment, which may involve dental cleaning and scaling each tooth to remove plaque and bacteria from a dog's mouth. Sometimes animals will need to have a tooth (or a few) pulled.
7. Growths on the Gums
If you spot any unexplained lumps or growths anywhere on your pet, you should schedule an appointment with a vet. Growths on the gums can sometimes be malignant tumors that need removal, which could involve removing some teeth too.
If you check and clean your pooch's teeth every day, you'll be more likely to notice unusual growths at an early stage when they're usually easier to treat.
8. Sudden Shyness
If your dog suddenly starts moving their head away from your hand, or their behavior seems off when you try to examine the area, tooth pain may be causing them to act shyer or increasingly irritable. They may be afraid that it will increase their pain.
How Can I Better Look After My Pet's Teeth?
Caring for the teeth and gums of dogs, cats and other animals isn't so different from looking after your own oral hygiene. You can look after a dog’s oral health by making sure they eat a healthy diet, cleaning their teeth every day and scheduling regular appointments and check ups with your local vet. Many even swear by purchasing dog dental treats. But, just like us, many animals are at a higher risk of dental problems as they get older.
There are many types of dry foods that are designed to help keep your dog's teeth clean, often using a type of “scrubbing” that happens while they chew – talk to a vet about which option is best for your pet. Try to brush your pet's teeth once a day, using toothpaste and toothbrushes designed especially for their size and breed.
Note: you should never use fluoride toothpaste (human toothpaste) on animals or any other hygiene products designed for humans. Dog toothpaste can be found at any pet store or online.
How to Treat and Prevent Dog's Toothaches
Take your dog in to the vet's office for regular oral exams and cleanings.
Check their teeth daily.
Brush your dog's teeth every day either with a dog toothbrush or a finger brush.
Invest in dog dental products.
Feed your dog quality dog food.
Offer safe toys, chew toys and treats for daily chewing.
Do your own oral examinations regularly.
Prevention is even better than a cure! Just how it is so important for humans to look after our own teeth, our pets are no different. Regularly checking for these signs of dental disease and implementing a daily dental routine will quickly improve their oral health, as well as their overall happiness and wellbeing. A pet's oral health is only made better with proper dental care and regular dental cleanings.
Please remember; while February is National Pet Dental Health Month, these techniques and rules should be a daily ritual for pet owners all year long to keep a dog's teeth clean and healthy.
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PRIDE+GROOM was born because 4 New York City dog lovers wanted the same level of grooming products for their dogs that they themselves enjoyed. They looked (hard) but nothing was up to snuff. Or sniff. Like so many, we love our families and take pride in our homes, and we consider our pets to be integral parts of those entities. That said, we could not find an effective way to coif them that was on par with the way we tended to our children, our homes, or ourselves. These beloved pets are allowed on the furniture and in our beds, and yet even when fresh from the groomer, we knew they did not smell or feel as good as they could.
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