10 things your vet wants you to know about... DENTAL DISEASE IN DOGS
1. Dental disease is common.
Research shows 80% of dogs have evidence of dental disease by the time they are 3 years old. Tartar and plaque accumulate over time, causing inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and eventually more serious gum (periodontal) disease.
2. Dental disease is painful.
Pain is caused by the dog’s inflamed gums, and eventual loss of the soft tissue and bone that surround the teeth. And anyone who has ever suffered a toothache knows just how sore dental pain can be.
3. Dental disease can lead to other conditions too.
Gum disease can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause infections elsewhere in the body. This can put your dog at risk of developing heart, kidney and liver disease.
4. Dental disease can go unnoticed.
The signs of dental disease in dogs include bad breath (halitosis), difficulties eating and chewing on one side of the mouth or a reduced appetite. However, most affected dogs show no signs at all.
5. You can spot dental disease if you look for it.
By looking in your dogs’ mouth regularly, you can detect the signs of dental disease. Look out for red, inflamed or bleeding gums, swellings in the mouth, loose or broken teeth. Your vet will look for these signs as part of their regular check-ups.
6. Dental disease in dogs can be prevented.
Brushing your dog’s teeth at least three times a week is the best way to prevent dental disease. Always use products intended for pet use – never use human toothpaste. Dental chews, toys, and specially formulated diets can all help to reduce tooth and gum disease in dogs.
7. Dental disease is more common in some breeds than others.
Some breeds of dog are more prone to dental disease due to the shape and size of their mouths. Dogs with long narrow muzzles like greyhounds and whippets, as well as flat faced breeds such as pugs and bull dogs are at increased risk.
8. Dental disease can affect young dogs too.
Although the risk of dental disease gets higher the older dogs get, young dogs can be affected too. Young dogs, including puppies, can have extra teeth (retained puppy teeth) or their teeth may be wonky.
9. Treatment requires a general anaesthetic
Treatment of dental disease in dogs might involve the extraction (removal) of one or more teeth. This is a surgical procedure and requires a general anaesthetic. Unlike in people, a scale and polish in dogs requires an anaesthetic too. Performing dental treatment in a dog whilst it is awake can cause stress and further damage to their teeth and gums.
10. Dental treatments might not be covered by pet insurance.
Not all insurance providers and policies provide cover for dental treatment. If they do, it may well be on the condition that your pet has regular dental check-ups. So, check your small print, and be sure to get your dog checked out by a vet on a regular basis.
Always get any concerns about your dog's health checked out by a vet.