Preventing Dental Disease in Dogs

Preventing dental disease in dogs is important and more emphasis should be placed on it by dog guardians. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs show signs of dental diseases by age three.  This could explain why Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) reports that its policyholders filed more than $5.1 million in claims for routine dental care in 2009 and over 1,000 filed claims for tooth abscess.

Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent canine dental diseases and is typically the result of plaque and tartar.  Food and bacteria collect on the surface of the tooth and gum line forming plaque.  When plaque is not removed from the tooth, it turns into tartar.  Tartar refers to mineral deposits that harden on the tooth and above and below the gum line.  This, in turn, causes yellowing or staining of the tooth and inflammation of the gums which causes your dog pain and tooth decay.  Left untreated, tartar can cause gum disease (periodontal disease), destroying the nerve of the tooth causing abscesses, loose teeth and more extreme pain.  And if that isn’t enough, similar to humans, canine dental disease is often thought to be a contributing factor to diseases in other organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and other systemic diseases.

But canine dental disease isn’t always the result of poor oral hygiene. Rough play, chewing certain bones and cow hooves can also cause damage to the tooth, usually in the form of broken or chipped teeth.

Common signs of dental disease in dogs are:

  • bad breath
  • reluctance to eat or chew anything hard
  • bleeding, red or puffy gums
  • brown or yellow stains on your pups teeth
  • excessive drooling
  • loose or missing teeth

If your dog is displaying any of these signs, take him to your vet as soon as possible.  Teeth cleaning, tooth extractions, root canals and other oral procedures can be expensive.  VPI reports the average cost of a tooth extraction is about $900. That is why it is so important to develop a routine maintenance program for preventing canine dental diseases.

Preventing Dental Disease in Dogs

The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends the following steps for proper oral care for your dog:

  • Schedule an initial dental exam with your vet.  February is National Pet Dental Health Month. During February many vets will offer special prices on cleanings and exams which can save some money.  But if your pet is experiencing any problems now, don’t wait.
  • Begin a dental regiment at home.  This would include brushing your pets teeth on a routine basis.  Some vets recommend twice a day others recommend two to three times a week.  My vet says once a day is good, more than that is great but likely over zealous.  Some vets recommend giving your dog bones, while others are adamant that bones be avoided. So the best advice is to check with your vet to get a list of steps and products.
  • Schedule regular dental check ups with your vet to determine your progress (or lack thereof)


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