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  • Writer's pictureKarley

Why is dental care important for dogs?

Our dogs bring us so much joy. From their happy tail wags to their loving cuddles, they always know how to brighten our day. But as dog owners, we have an important responsibility to take care of our furry friends' health, and this includes their dental health. While doggie breath might seem like a cute quirk, it can be a symptom of underlying dental issues. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of canine dental care and provide tips for maintaining your pup's pearly whites.


The Importance of Dog Dental Care

Like humans, dogs are susceptible to dental diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that dental disease is the most common health issue in dogs. Ignoring your pet's dental health can lead to severe pain, tooth loss, and can even affect their overall health, impacting their heart, liver, and kidneys. Therefore, a good dental care routine is crucial.


Key Benefits of Dog Dental Care

1. Prevention of Dental Diseases

By regularly cleaning your dog's teeth and providing them with dental-friendly foods and toys, you can help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar that lead to dental diseases. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), regular dental care can help prevent periodontal disease, which affects the tissues surrounding the tooth and can lead to tooth loss if untreated.


Let's delve deeper into the types of dental diseases your dog can face and how regular dental care can help prevent them:

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs, affecting over 80% of dogs by the age of three, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society. The disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Subsequently, minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into dental tartar (calculus), which is firmly attached to the teeth. The bacteria work their way under the gums and cause gingivitis, which progresses to undermine the roots of the teeth, leading to damage of the supporting tissue and bone, or periodontitis.


Symptoms include bad breath, a yellow-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line, red and swollen gums, and pain or bleeding when your dog eats or when the mouth or gums are touched. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and can cause infections that can spread to the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by the buildup of plaque, bacteria, and food debris on the teeth. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), gingivitis is reversible with regular teeth cleaning. But if left untreated, it can progress to periodontal disease, which is more severe and irreversible.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, also known as cavities, is less common in dogs than in humans. However, a diet high in sugars and human food could potentially lead to tooth decay, according to VCA Hospitals. Tooth decay can cause pain and lead to abscesses.

Tooth Root Abscess

A tooth root abscess is a severe and painful condition that occurs when bacteria enter the exposed roots of the tooth. According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, this can happen due to periodontal disease, tooth decay, or injury. Symptoms include swelling and redness around the tooth and pain when eating.

Regular dental care, including teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings, can prevent these dental diseases. In addition, providing dental-friendly toys and a healthy diet can also contribute to keeping your dog's teeth and gums healthy. If you notice any signs of dental disease in your dog, such as bad breath, visible tartar, or changes in eating behavior, it's important to consult your veterinarian.


2. Fresh Breath

Regular dental care can keep your dog's breath fresh. While it's normal for dogs to not have minty-fresh breath, extremely foul breath can be a sign of dental diseases. Regular brushing and professional cleanings can help maintain fresh breath in your pet.


3. Longer Life Expectancy

According to Banfield Pet Hospital's State of Pet Health Report, dogs that receive regular dental care tend to live longer than those who do not. This is because dental diseases can impact other organs in the body if left untreated.


Here's how dental diseases can impact various organs and systems in your dog's body:

Heart Disease

Research, including a study from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), has suggested a link between periodontal disease and heart disease in dogs. The theory is that the bacteria from the oral cavity can enter the bloodstream through the gums and settle in the heart, leading to diseases such as endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart), heart murmurs, and other heart conditions.

Kidney Disease

Untreated dental disease can potentially lead to kidney disease. The same harmful bacteria that cause periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and affect the kidneys. According to a study from the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry, there's a significant association between oral health status and chronic kidney disease in dogs.

Liver Disease

The liver is responsible for filtering bacteria and toxins from the blood. When dental diseases allow harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream, the liver can become overwhelmed, leading to inflammation or infection.

Respiratory Issues

Bacteria from the oral cavity can be inhaled into the lungs, leading to respiratory infections like pneumonia, especially in dogs with a weakened immune system.

Systemic Inflammation

Chronic dental disease can lead to systemic inflammation. The immune system's ongoing response to chronic oral infection and bacteria can lead to inflammation throughout the body, which over time can cause damage to the body's tissues and organs.

The good news is that these potential health risks can be greatly reduced with proper dental care. Regular oral care, including at-home teeth brushing and professional cleanings, alongside a healthy diet, can help ensure your dog's mouth stays healthy and can contribute to their overall well-being and longevity.


4. Improved Quality of Life

Toothaches can cause severe discomfort and affect your pet's quality of life. They might have trouble eating and lose interest in play due to the pain. Regular dental care helps ensure your pet's mouth stays healthy and pain-free.


Maintaining Your Dog’s Dental Health

Here are some ways you can help maintain your dog's dental health:

1. Regular Check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to your pet's dental health. Your vet will examine your dog's teeth and gums and may recommend a professional dental cleaning, especially if your pet is showing signs of dental disease. The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) recommends that dogs have a dental check-up at least once a year.


2. Brush Regularly

Just as you brush your teeth daily, aim to brush your dog's teeth every day. Use a dog toothpaste (human toothpaste can upset your dog's stomach) and a brush designed for dogs. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), regular brushing can prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar.


3. Dental Treats & Toys

Chew toys and dental treats can supplement your dog's oral hygiene routine. They help clean the teeth, stimulate the gums, and freshen your pet's breath. However, it's important to note that these should not replace daily brushing and regular vet check-ups.


4. Professional Cleanings

Professional dental cleanings performed by your vet can help prevent and treat dental disease. These cleanings usually involve a thorough dental examination, removal of plaque and tartar, and polishing of the teeth.


Conclusion

Dental care is an integral part of your dog's overall health. By maintaining regular dental check-ups, brushing your dog's teeth daily, offering dental-friendly toys and treats, and scheduling professional cleanings as recommended by your vet, you can help ensure your dog's mouth stays healthy.


Don't ignore your pet's dental health. Remember, your furry friend relies on you for their care. Your efforts will help prevent painful dental diseases and can even extend your pet's lifespan. So, make dental care a priority in your pet care routine. After all, a healthy dog is a happy dog!

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