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How Periodontal Disease Affects Your Dog’s Health

By Angie Picardo for Pet News and Views

If you’re like most pet owners, then you can never turn away an old fashioned sloppy kiss from your dog.  That big goofy canine smile seems to brighten up the day.  However, many people often overlook the fact that a dog’s teeth play a vital role in their overall health.

See the smile?

Gum and tooth diseases contribute to other health problems, including heart disease.  When your dog eats, food and bacteria can potentially collect around the gum line and harden into tartar in only a few days.  If left unchecked, a dog can contract gingivitis, which can be identified by a reddening of the gums.  From there, the dog may contract periodontal disease, where spaces form under the teeth, creating breeding grounds for bacteria.  In severe cases, a dog’s gums can recede to the point that his tooth’s roots will be visible.

If you notice any of the following signs, contact your vet, as they may be signs of  periodontal disease or a number of other dental diseases:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pawing at the muzzle
  • Heavy tartar crust along the gum line
  • Growths in the mouth
  • Discoloration of the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Excessive drooling

Veterinarians have special dental tools that allow for the deep cleaning and removal of plaque.  Often these procedures can get costly, and in some cases require anesthesia.  Having your dog’s teeth cleaned is a necessary hassle, and will save you money in the long run.  If your dog develops a severe case of periodontal disease, then expensive surgeries and tooth removal may be unfortunate options.  As a rule, smaller dogs and brachiocephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs need cleaning annually.  Bigger dogs can go a bit longer without having their teeth cleaned.  There are a few things you can do to make sure their teeth stay as clean as they possibly can and extend their lives at the same time.

Canine Preventative Dental Care:
Start checking your dog’s teeth at a young age.  By four years old your pet can have serious issues.

  • Check your dog’s teeth once a week for the signs of disease and tartar buildup.
  • Dog toothbrushes are available at local pet stores, so you can brush your dog’s teeth.  Dogs cannot use the same toothpaste as humans.  Instead you can use baking soda and water, or buy dog toothpaste at the vet or local pet store.  Also, you can clean your dog’s teeth with gauze wrapped around your finger.
  • There are chew bones and toys on the market made specifically for the purpose of cleaning your dog’s teeth and reducing bad breath.

Remember to always treat your dog’s health with the same respect you do to your own health.  Following these easy steps will ensure that your dog’s teeth are clean; plus, you’ll appreciate their kisses a lot more knowing that they are healthy and disease free.

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping customers find the best credit cards.


14 comments to How Periodontal Disease Affects Your Dog’s Health

  • With National Pet Dental Health month starting tomorrow…this is a very timely article. Far too many pet owners fail to see the need or understand why dental health is so important to their pets.

    The Veterinary News Network has created a short video that outlines what happens during your pet’s day at the dentist. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6OnCF2rqiU

  • I give my dogs raw marrow bones about once a week to chew on. Their gums are perfect, their teeth are perfect. This is nature’s tooth brush. Even the vet comments on their clean, white teeth.

    If you are squeamish about giving your dog raw bones, don’t be. Remember dogs like to bury stuff in the back yard, dig it up later and eat it. They can take it.

    Linda West Eckhardt
    James Beard award winning cookbook author
    Editor/Publisher Everybody Eats News
    author of “The Dog Ate It? Cooking for Yourself and your Four-legged Friends”

  • Great tips!

    If your dog has surgery at any time, request that they clean the teeth professionally, while they’re ‘under’

    Also stay away from Jerky Treats! They’ve caused many serious and even fatal illnesses.

  • Heidi

    My friend got into a daily routine of brushing his dog’s teeth, and it is so smart because going to a dental veterinarian is expensive.

  • Mary

    I brush my dog, Bruno, teeth everyday, and his breath smells better too.

  • Robert

    Good points. If your dog’s breath smells foul, you should take him to the vet.

  • Laurie

    Chew toys helps massage a dog’s gums and help keep his teeth clean. That is a smart tip.

  • Cori

    Don’t forget cats. We brush our cats’ teeth everyday. It is a ritual, and they are healthier for it.

  • Barbara Graves

    I love your site Michele. Great article Angie. Very useful.

  • Sheila

    We started brushing our puppy’s teeth from day one. Our older dog, however, who is a rescue that we recently acquired, is a different story. She isn’t used to this, so we are trying.

  • Yvonne

    We brush our cat’s teeth on a daily basis right after we brush our teeth in the morning. It is also another time to bond with them.

  • Carol

    We have a pug, and it is true that they need daily care–actually more care than other breeds. Their pushed in faces makes them susceptible to asthma. Ours goes to the vet 2x a year, and we have learned how to brush his teeth thanks to a wonderful dog trainer.

  • We found that CET liquid supplement in our dogs’ water really helps keep the plaque away. Our dogs LOVE toothpaste–we get the chicken flavor Petrodex from the local conscientious pet store, which is their favorite, but they also like the chicken flavored CET paste from the vet. We actually use it to give them their meds. Our vet always laughs at us…but hey, fresh breath and meds down is a plus on both counts!

  • ecigarettes How Periodontal Disease Affects Your Dog’s Health « Pet News and Views

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