If you’re like most people, you want the best for your dog’s health, so they can live a long and happy life as a member of your family. However, the last thing that most people tend to worry about when it comes to taking care of their dog’s health is their dental health.
Contrary to popular belief, pet dental care is just as important to your pet’s health as it is to your human family member’s. One way to ensure your dog remains healthy is by taking it to routine dental examinations and professional dental cleanings.
Dental Diseases in Dogs
Dental disease in dogs is a common health problem that can affect your pet’s overall health as well as their quality of life. Dental diseases in dogs can cause bad breath, tooth loss, inflamed gums, and a great deal of pain.
When dogs go for prolonged periods without professional dental cleanings, tartar builds up on the teeth, inflaming the gums and causing gum disease, known as gingivitis. Like in humans, when gingivitis progresses in pets, the gums begin to recede around the infection, damaging the bone and roots of the tooth, weakening the jawbone, and even leading to tooth loss.
As gingivitis progresses into a more advanced gum disease, known as periodontal disease, your pet’s entire health can become compromised. As bacteria begins to take control of your dog’s mouth, it escapes and enters the bloodstream, where it can further infect other parts of your pet’s body.
Severe Gum Disease in Dogs
It can be hard to detect whether your dog has gum disease, since your dog will rarely present any visible symptoms or show signs that they are in pain.
As we mentioned earlier, neglecting your dog’s dental health can lead to severe forms of gum disease, and your dog could be living in chronic pain without your realizing it.
At Madison Animal Care Hospital, we recommend taking your pet to routine dental check ups, so we can assess the quality of your pet’s dental health and stop problems, before they arise.
However, if you suspect your dog might have gum disease, these are some symptoms you can be on the lookout for:
Difficulty picking up and chewing food
Bleeding and red gums
Blood on chew toys or in your dog’s water bowl
Only chewing on one side of the mouth
Blood in your pet’s saliva
Showing discomfort when touching your dog’s head
Lumps inside your dog’s mouth
Nasal discharge and sneezing, caused by infection spreading to the upper nasal cavity
Leaving gum disease untreated for long periods of time puts your pet at a greater risk of developing other health problems. Dogs with gum disease are more likely to experience heart, kidney, and liver disease, which can severely impact your pet’s lifespan.
If you have begun to notice symptoms of gum disease in your dog, and you haven’t made any appointments for your pet’s dental care, we recommend scheduling an appointment right away to help preserve your pet’s health.
Professional Dental Cleanings for Dogs
While it is possible to brush your dog’s teeth at home, it’s impossible to clean each and every tooth, while cleaning under the gum line and assessing if further dental care is needed.
You should work with your veterinarian to stay on top of your dog’s dental health and prevent and treat gum disease. During your pet’s routine oral exams, we will be able to take X-rays of your pet’s mouth to get a better view of what is happening with your pet’s teeth and under the gum line, while also performing a full cleaning.
In order to safely carry out a successful cleaning, we will need to administer anesthesia. During this exam, we will be able to take an entire exam of the gums, tongue, throat, and mouth, which is essentially impossible without anesthesia. Before undertaking any treatments with anesthesia, we will first run blood work to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
Some veterinarians boast on using “anesthesia-free” dentistry, which might sound good in theory. However, anesthesia-free dentistry only allows for the removal of tartar on the outside of teeth, while overlooking plaque buildup in-between the teeth and under the gum line. Without anesthesia, it is impossible and even dangerous to evaluate your pet’s entire mouth, which leads to inadequate cleanings, further decay, and an increased risk of infection.
Taking Care of Your Pet’s Mouth at Home
Beyond taking your pet for professional cleanings, you can also decrease your pet’s chance of dental diseases by cleaning its teeth at home, feeding it high quality dog food, and buying chew toys that promote dental health.
Try to find treats and toys that aren’t too hard, like bendy rawhide strips, rubber KONG toys, and other rubber toys. Try and stay away from rigid rawhides, as they can be hard on your pet’s dental and gastrointestinal health.
Want to learn more about staying on top of your dog’s dental health? Call Madison Animal Care Hospital today for a dental appointment at 256-461-7575.