“Doggy breath” – that unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth of your pawl – can be a signal of serious health problems. A dog’s mouth is his primary means of contact with the world around him. He uses his mouth to eat, to investigate and to communicate. The jaws are a powerful tool used to grind, gnaw, crush and carry. Keeping this part of your pet’s body healthy is vital to his quality of life and longevity.
Fifty to eighty percent of all dogs suffer from periodontal disease. Tartar buildup is the primary cause. Just as in humans, small particles of food remain on the teeth after eating. If not removed, these particles decompose, causing the growth of bacteria that then forms plaque and tartar. As tartar grows, it literally pushes the gums away from the teeth which then loosen over time. Loose teeth reveal root sockets which can easily become infected. In untreated cases, the infection can travel from the root socket to the dog’s bloodstream where the bacteria takes up residence in the kidney, liver and heart causing disease of these organs. How do you recognize periodontal disease in your dog? There are specific signs and symptoms that indicate mouth problems including a change in eating habits. While not all dogs suffering from periodontal disease change feeding habits, changes can be an indication of trouble. Pawing at the mouth, abnormal drooling, mouth tenderness, facial inflammation, obvious oral bleeding, sneezing, nasal discharge and swelling around the eyes are also indicators of mouth problems. The most obvious and usually the first sign of a problem, though, is that tale tell bad breath. What can you do to prevent and/or treat your pet’s periodontal disease? The experts agree that a diet consisting of primarily soft canned food is not a good idea. “The buildup of plaque in pets’ soft canned diets is very rapid,” says R. Hines, DVM. Opinions differ on the tartar-removing properties of hard foods, but experts DO agree that crunchy, dry food does not adhere to the teeth as much and therefore tartar and plaque do not build up as quickly. Besides diet, yearly dental checkups are advised. Even if you don’t give annual vaccinations, regular oral exams by a professional can make a huge difference in your pet’s health. Herbal supplements such as Echinacea and other herbal medicines can be used internally to improve immune system health. Herbs can also be used as a tea or mouthwash. If you do suspect periodontal disease already at work, do not hesitate to visit your veterinarian for a professional cleaning and possible antibiotic treatment if he detects an infection. The most important thing you can do to protect your pet’s dental health is to brush his teeth! Use a child’s toothbrush and a toothpaste developed for pets. Your vet can advise on the best methods of training your dog to let you brush his teeth. Good dental health and preventative care can add years to your dog’s life and save him undue suffering from kidney, liver and heart disease. Its never too late to get started!
If you noticed a change in your dog make sure you tell us when you bring in your dog and we will make sure to update you on his day and if we also noticed the same change. If you have any doubt PawsVIP recommends that you visit your veterinarian right away.