Many of us assume that the condition of their dog’s dental health i.e. teeth and gums, has no influence on their overall health. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“The toxins from periodontal disease are absorbed into the dog’s blood stream. As the kidneys, liver and brain filter the blood, small infections occur causing permanent and at times fatal organ damage.”
~ veterinary dentist Dr Jan Bellows
Bacteria present in periodontal disease produce toxins. These toxins damage the delicate tissues of the heart, kidneys and brain. This bacteria may travel in the bloodstream, colonising the tissues of heart valves, the kidneys and the liver.
When plaque builds up on your dog’s teeth, it hardens within a few days to form tartar. Tartar adheres to the teeth and irritates the gums. Irritated gums result in an inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Pets with gingivitis have red rather than pink gums. Often gingivitis is associated with stinky breath.
Tartar that isn’t removed from your pet’s teeth, builds up under the gums. Gums start to pull away from the teeth or recede, creating small pockets in the gum tissue, trapping bacteria in the mouth. At this stage, your dog has developed irreversible periodontal disease. This is painful and may also result in abscesses, infections, loose teeth and bone loss.
Some dogs have a higher risk for Dental Disease than others.
Is Your Dog a ‘High Risk for Dental Disease’ Breed?
The speed at which tooth and gum problems develop in your dog’s mouth depends on some of the following factors:
- overall health
- the frequency and quality of dental care received.
Periodontal disease is the most prevalent disease in all dogs. However, some breeds are at higher risk, including the following:
Collies and Shelties:
These breeds tend to have an overbite in which the lower jaw is shorter than normal and in relationship to the upper jaw.
Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds:
Brachys (e.g., Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Boston Terriers) typically have malocclusions, meaning their teeth don’t line up as they should, as well as crowding.
Misaligned teeth may hit or bite down in the wrong place and cause trauma and pain.
Crowded allows for increased food entrapment and bacterial buildup. This close contact of teeth leads to periodontal disease. Extraction of select teeth may be necessary to help provide more space in the mouth.
“Abnormal crowding and misalignment makes the Pug’s teeth more difficult to clean. My Pug won’t let me even look in her mouth or try to brush her teeth, while my Border Collie mix has no problems during tooth brushing.”
Kimi Kan-Rohrer, a veterinary clinical specialist and dental hygienist.
Yorkies and other small and toy breeds:
These little dogs tend to have “persistent” baby teeth. This means they don’t fall out timeously or at all. The baby teeth sit on top of the permanent teeth that grow in underneath them.
Food and debris collect in these hard-to-maintain areas, putting your dog at an increased risk to periodontal disease.
Persistent deciduous teeth (baby teeth) should be extracted promptly. If not, the adult teeth may fail to erupt or may come in at an incorrect angle and cause misalignment.
These little dogs have small mouths but the same number of teeth (42) every dog has. Often there’s not enough room in those tiny mouths for all those teeth, resulting in crowding.
Doxies have narrow muzzles. This makes them prone to developing pockets in their gums created by tooth and bone loss. Bacteria thrive in periodontal pockets. Collies also have narrow muzzles and may experience the same problems.
Boxers, along with Great Danes, Mastiffs, Bulldogs and Collies are often prone to develop an overgrowth or thickening of the gums. This condition is known as gingival hyperplasia. Causes of Gingival hyperplasia may be due to an inflammatory response to plaque and bacteria on the teeth, or a reaction to certain medications.
This small breed, as well as Lhasa Apsos, the Maltese and the Havanese, often experience delayed tooth eruption. They get their teeth later than normal. The problem arises if a tooth or teeth don’t erupt at all. These teeth may cause problems such as tooth impaction and (dentigerous) cyst formation
While small breeds are more genetically prone to periodontal disease, Labradors and other large, active breeds tend to get more tooth fractures than other breeds.
Avoid fractured or worn teeth by avoiding hard chew toys and tennis balls. Seeing your vet if you notice a fractured or discoloured tooth.
Just because your fur buddy is genetically predisposed to dental disease doesn’t mean he’s destined to a lifetime of mouth problems. There are many things you can do keep his teeth clean and his gums in good condition.
Tips to Preserve Your Dog’s Oral Health
Your dog’s diet may play a significant role in the amount of tartar they collect on their teeth. Raw diets or superior quality high animal protein diets — even prepared, ground raw diets — appear to help control tartar.
The meat contains natural enzymes, and raw food doesn’t stick to teeth. It’s a complete myth that kibble helps keep your pet’s teeth clean. Kibble is no better for your pet’s teeth than crunchy human food is for your teeth. Most kibble is high in starchy carbohydrates which are naturally sticky. This promotes tartar buildup. That being said, even raw fed pets acquire plaque and tartar, so don’t assume food alone will save your dog from dental disease.
Luckily there are a few supplements that research shows improved gum health and the oral microbiome. PlaqueOff Animal is such a product. Adding PlaqueOff Animal you fur buddy’s meal once a day reduces the rate at which buildup occurs.
2 Raw bones.
Chewing plays an important role in removing plaque and tartar from teeth. There are plenty of toys and food products on the market that can be of some help. Raw, meaty big knuckle end bones are the best option, and few dogs will turn them down.
Always supervise your dog when feeding a big, raw bone!
Bones must be raw.
Cooked bones splinter and damage your pet’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Bone size depends on the size of your dog. Eager chewers may risk injuring themselves or even breaking teeth. Strangely enough, many dogs need to learn to chew on raw bones responsibly. Supervise your fur buddy to minimize the risk of choking or tooth damage. Refrigerate raw bones between chewing sessions.
The idea is to brush your pet’s teeth, preferably every day. A little time brushing your dog’s teeth can reap tremendous rewards in oral health and well-being. However, many pet owners find this laughable and near impossible. Then we always recommend a single dose of PlaqueOff Animal once a day, every day!
Your dog should allow you to open his mouth. Look inside and feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps or bumps on the tongue, under the tongue, along with the gum line and across the roof. Doing this a few times makes you aware of any changes that occur from one inspection to the next. You should also make note of any difference in the smell of his breath that isn’t diet-related.
5 Veterinary checkups.
Arrange for regular oral exams performed by your veterinarian. They will alert you to any existing or potential problems in your pet’s mouth. These checks usually include an overall health inspection too which is always beneficial.
Conscientious dental home care of a dog with no special situations that predispose them to tartar buildup or other dental issues means you may never need a professional cleaning by a veterinarian. However, pets with extreme tartar buildup, badly inflamed gums or oral infections will always need extra help. PlaqueOff Animal and your veterinarian are there to help.
1 PetMD: Vet approved and authorised – Oral Hygiene and Your Dog’s Health
2 PetMD: Vet approved and authorised – 8 Breeds Prone to Dental Disease