Things Every Dog Owner Should Know about Common Canine Oral Health Problems

June is Pet Dental Care Month. In light of this, Groomers have composed details on a wide variety of common canine oral health problems, what causes them, and how best to treat them.

Tooth and Gum Issues

  • Gum disease. This is the most common oral health problem for canines. Gum disease, or gingivitis, is an inflammation of the gums caused by the accumulation of tartar and bacteria on the gum line. Symptoms include bleeding gums, tooth loss and infection. It can be easily resolved in its early stages however through regular tooth brushing and dental chew toys.
  • Loose teeth. Puppies naturally lose their deciduous teeth just like human children. If your dog has a loose tooth as an adult however, this will typically be the result of tooth trauma, gum disease or illness. Loose teeth will not correct themselves – the dog will need a visit to the vet, usually for an abstraction.
  • Crooked teeth. A dog will never have his teeth altered for aesthetic purposes, but occasionally a dog may have extremely misaligned teeth, which can cause problems eating or sores inside the mouth. In this case, the problem tooth/teeth is removed.
  • Tooth trauma. Cracked or broken teeth in dogs can occur from rough play, tugging games, or biting/chewing on inappropriate items. Even if the dog does not seem in any discomfort, you should take him to the vet if they have a cracked or chipped tooth, as this could lead to an abscess or tooth rot over time. Also ensure that your dog always has something flexible to chew on.
  • Abscesses. These can be very painful. In canines, abscesses are typically caused by advanced gum disease, or a broken tooth exposed to bacteria. There will typically be a red swelling around the gum area, your dog may refuse food, and he may even experience sore or inflamed eyes – if the abscess is affecting his upper jaw. To treat this issue, the dog will usually need a course of antibiotics, and the offending tooth is often removed.
  • Plaque and tartar. Plaque is a white coloured soft paste made up of bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay. This is easily removed by brushing. Tartar is solidified plaque, which is only removable from canine teeth under general anaesthetic.
  • Cavities and tooth decay. Dogs get cavities too! This is not caused by sugar like with us humans, but by fermented carbohydrate, the acid of which affects canine tooth enamel and dentine. This can in time lead to structural damage and infection, but is easily prevented by brushing, or offering dental chew toys after meals.

Managing Canine Oral Health

To keep your dog’s oral health at its optimum level is simple. Ensure that you:

  1. Check your dog’s teeth and gums regularly for any problems.
  2. Clean your dog’s teeth as regularly as possible.
  3. Offer safe chew toys, ideally with gum massaging or teeth cleaning capabilities.
  4. Take your dog for regularly dental check-ups with your vet.

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