Without appropriate dental care, your dog's teeth will decay and disease will gain a foothold. In this post, our Pico Rivera vets share a few reasons why dog dental care is so important to their health.

Dog Dental Care

Consider what would happen if you decided to stop brushing your teeth. After a few days, the plaque buildup on your teeth and under your gumline would cause your mouth to feel foul. You'd have a bad taste in your mouth and almost unbearable breath. Worse, your dentist may end up treating you for one or more dental diseases in the long run. The same can be said for our dogs. Dental care is not an option for our canine companions; it is required to maintain both oral and overall health.

Without appropriate dental care, dogs are prone to dental disease. These issues are quite common — by age 3, most dogs have some type of dental disease (also known as periodontal disease). Dental disease in dogs can have a serious impact long-term, so preserving their overall health with consistent dog dental care is imperative.

Dental Disease in Dogs

Dental disease can harm your dog's teeth, gums, and supporting structures. Plaque, which contains food particles and bacteria, begins to build upon the teeth. If plaque is not removed from the teeth with a dog-friendly toothbrush, it hardens into calculus (tartar). The Tartar above the gumline is easily visible and can be removed by your veterinarian during a professional dental cleaning.

However, just because your dog's teeth are gleaming white doesn't mean everything is fine. Tartar that gets under the gumline is a serious problem because it damages the tooth's supporting structures and causes infection and inflammation. This is the stage at which serious dental problems, pain, and other symptoms become a problem.

Signs of dental problems in dogs include:

  • Loose teeth
  • Fractured teeth
  • Drooling
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding or painful mouth
  • Inability or refusal to eat or drink

Why is dog dental care important?

Every pet parent wants their dog to have great lifelong dental health. Here are five reasons why attentive dental care for dogs is so important to your dog's general health.

1. Preventing teeth from falling out

If the structures surrounding a dog's teeth become infected or damaged, loose and missing teeth will result. You can ensure that these supporting structures remain healthy and that the teeth remain in place by providing proper dog dental care.

2. Preventing pain in the mouth

For dogs, severe dental disease (or dental disease at any stage) can be excruciatingly painful. Keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy to avoid oral pain and to ensure that his teeth continue to function properly.

3. Preventing bad breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem in dogs, but it is a sign of dental disease. While a mild odor is normal, a strong odor of fish, poop, acetone, urine, garbage, sewer or any other scent can indicate trouble, such as an infection or bacterial buildup. When your dog's teeth and mouth are in good condition, bad breath will not be an issue.

4. Preventing gum disease from progressing

By the age of three years, many dogs have periodontal disease. Having said that, diligent dog dental care can prevent dental disease from progressing and causing problems throughout the body.

5. Preventing organ damage

As previously stated, dental disease can cause organ damage by bacteria in plaque entering the bloodstream, traveling to the heart, and spreading to organs such as the liver and kidneys. This can quickly result in dogs becoming critically ill. Good oral hygiene prevents bacteria from spreading and causing organ damage (along with expensive procedures to correct these problems).

How can I remove plaque from my dog's teeth?

Professional dental exams and cleanings are important once a year, but proper dental care for your dog also includes at-home maintenance. Here are a few things you can do at home to help your dog's teeth stay healthy:

  • Brush your dog's teeth. Taking time to brush your dog's teeth a few times each week is an excellent way to maintain great oral health. Use a dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrush. 
  • Provide dental treats. While not all dogs like their teeth brushed or will get used to it easily, you can try dog dental treats. 
  • Give your dog durable dental toys to clean their teeth and freshen their breath. These toys are designed to stand up to your dog's chewing. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Is it time for your dog's annual dental exam and cleaning? Contact our Pico Rivera Animal Hospital veterinary team to book an exam today.