We’ve all heard the jokes and comments about dog breath. Things like “I owned a dog named Halle, he had such bad breath we called him Halle tosis”
However, dog breath is no laughing matter. Bad breath is one of the common symptoms of gingivits and periodontal disease. February is National Pet Dental Health Month in the USA. Take this time to learn a bit more about your dog’s dental health.
Plaque consists of saliva, bacteria, and food particles. Dental experts say that plaque is 80% bacteria and when it isn’t removed, it will harden into dental calculus – commonly known as tartar. Tartar is clearly recognizable as a brown hard coating on your dog’s teeth.
The earliest form of periodontal disease is gingivitis. A reddening or swelling along the gum line in your dog is a sign of gingivitis. The gums may also bleed when touched. Gingivitis is reversible if you clean your dog’s teeth.
If gingivitis gets into the cavity around a tooth, the problem literally deepens. Gums may recede and expose the bone which can also become infected. This is full-blown periodontal disease and it can be stopped with a proper dental cleaning but in many cases there is still lasting damage.
As periodontal disease progresses, your dog is at risk of systemic infections where bacteria and associated toxins spread throughout the bloodstream. Researchers believe there is a connection between dental disease and liver, kidney, lungs and heart problems.
Signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease may include:
- Bad Breath
- Regular drooling
- Difficulty with chewing or eating
- Red or swollen gums which may bleed
- Tartar on the teeth
- Receding gums
- Loose or missing teeth
Many dog owners swear by the ‘bone a day’ rule – that chewing something hard will clean their dog’s teeth. However, more veterinarians recommend teeth brushing now than ever before and they will check your dog’s teeth at their annual check-up.
Dog toothpastes are available in flavours like chicken, beef, malt and vanilla and most dogs will rapidly get accustomed to having their teeth brushed. It can be a game and the toothpaste is the reward.