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Common Dental Problems in Dogs

Dental issues are among the most naturally occurring health problems found in dogs. Our pet dentists in Carrollton are here to share some of the common veterinary dental problems in dogs and what steps you should take if your pup is showing signs of oral health concerns.

The Most Commonly Seen Dental Concerns in Dogs

A dog's mouth must be kept clean in order to maintain their overall health and well-being. However, most dogs do not get the dental care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Our Carrollton veterinarians frequently see dogs develop signs of gum disease (periodontal disease) or other dental problems by the age of three. Early detection of dental disease can have serious consequences for their long-term health.

The best way to maintain your dog's oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam from your animal dentist.

What are the signs of dental problems in dogs?

It's not always easy to detect early signs of dental health issues in dogs. That said, if you notice any of the following, it's time to book an appointment with your vet:

  • Dropping food
  • Excess drooling or blood in drool
  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
  • Bleeding around the mouth
  • Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Chewing on one side

Dental Issues in Dogs

Below, we'll list some of the most common dental issues our Carrollton vets see in dogs.

Plaque & Tartar Buildup in Dogs

Dogs, like humans, will accumulate plaque and tartar over time, particularly if their teeth are not cleaned on a regular basis. Plaque is a whitish substance primarily composed of bacteria that, if left on the tooth, hardens and turns yellowish. 

Plaque and tartar buildup in dogs are the leading causes of gum disease and tooth loss. The most common symptoms for a dog owner to watch for are gingivitis (very red and swollen gum line), discoloured deposits on the teeth, and increasingly bad breath. As the dental disease progresses, dogs may experience more severe breath and gum bleeding.

Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)

Periodontal disease is the deterioration of the gums and bone that surround the tooth. This most commonly happens when untreated plaque and tartar adhere to the tooth and travel beneath the gum line. 

This disease begins with gingivitis and progresses to periodontal disease as the gums and bone surrounding the tooth deteriorate. As a result, pockets around the tooth can form, allowing food and bacteria to accumulate beneath the tooth. If left unattended, dangerous infections can develop, and the teeth will start to fall out.

Common symptoms of canine periodontitis include:

  • Discolored teeth (brown or yellow)
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Irritability
  • Excessive drooling
  • Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
  • Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
  • “Ropey” or bloody saliva
  • Reduced appetite
  • Problems keeping food in the mouth

Tooth Fractures (Oral Trauma)

With all of the chewing that dogs do, whether they are eating or playing, it is not surprising that tooth fractures are a very common occurrence. Even everyday items that dogs use can be the cause of a tooth fracture, such as bones or hard plastic used to make toys.

Dog chew toys should be small enough that the dog doesn't have to entirely open its mouth, but large enough that there won't be a concern of accidentally swallowing or choking on the toy.

Oral Infections

An oral infection is caused by a bacteria-filled pocket, usually around the tooth's root. Periodontitis is the primary cause of infections, but trauma-induced chewing or sharp objects can also be a culprit. Some infections can be fatal because the bacteria enters the bloodstream and causes organ damage or failure in the heart, liver, kidneys, or brain.

What are some ways to prevent dental problems in dogs?

Creating a dental care routine for your dog is a great way to maintain oral hygiene and prevent oral issues.

Introducing food or water additives is an easy way to improve and maintain the health and strength of their teeth and bones. Adjusting your dog's diet can also increase oral hygiene, even with small exchanges like providing dental chews instead of less healthy treats.

Brushing your dog's teeth regularly is an ideal tactic for dog owners to use. Although it is not very realistic, brushing their teeth every day would be best if your dog will tolerate the process.

Be sure to bring your dog in for an oral hygiene cleaning and examination at least once every year. Some smaller breeds of dogs should go two or more times a year due to their teeth's shallow roots.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your dog's dental checkup and cleaning? Contact our Carrollton veterinarians today to book an appointment for your dog.

New Patients Welcome

Carroll County Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Carrollton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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