Is your dog's dental health at risk? 5 signs to look for
Like humans, dogs have bad breath days, too. But that doesn't mean you should ignore the telltale signs that indicate your four-legged friend may need better oral hygiene.
Dental health is a legitimate concern in canines - it's just that most pet owners are oblivious that their dogs require dental care.
Eighty percent of dogs show some signs of oral diseases by age three, providing a clear sign that, like humans, their oral health is affected by lifestyle and age. Unlike us, though, dogs are incapable of brushing their teeth all by themselves.
That's why it's important to be responsible for your dog's oral hygiene. In honour of the National Pet Dental Health Month, let's discuss the five signs that your pup's dental health is at risk.
Note: you need this information to know how to respond before the problem worsens.
1. Bad breath
Yes, the old "doggie breath" is still a very common sign that your dog suffers from a dental-related issue. It's a classic example of how we've all gotten used to the smell to the point that we no longer notice it.
But when your dog's bad breath reaches a point where you can't possibly ignore it, it's high time to schedule a visit to the vet for a full check-up. If you only see the vet once a year, you should try to schedule an appointment in between.
A breath that resembles rotten eggs is indicative of gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease progresses and wreaks havoc to the teeth and the jaw. It could lead to premature tooth loss.
2. Swelling at the cheek area or lips
When your normally energetic puppy doesn't want to eat, it may be a sign of pain caused by dental issues. But there's another way to determine if your dog is in pain: look for swelling around the cheek area and inside the lips. But the only way to be sure is to see a vet, who in turn will carry out a proper diagnosis and corresponding treatment. Don't try to research and administer treatment on your own - you could worsen the condition.
An infection from a tooth root spreads fast, and your dog will no longer eat as he used to. Or, you may notice that his face looks swollen, and the gums around the infected teeth are red and inflamed.
3. Uneven wear on the teeth
If you notice that some of your dog's teeth are not wearing evenly, then it may be an indication that there's tartar buildup. Tartar is a thin layer formed by saliva and bacteria on the teeth. It's what causes gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath, and loss of teeth.
The awkward aesthetics of the teeth suggests that dental problems also require immediate attention. You can only be sure if you have it checked by your vet. There's still a way to reverse the damage caused by dental problems, so try your best to attend to the problem as soon as possible.
4. Change in appetite/eating habits
A change in your dog's appetite may indicate dental problems, too. Some dogs will only eat the soft part of their kibble, which suggests that they're struggling to chew the food. Other dogs may lose their appetite completely or eat more than usual and then vomit it out after a few minutes.
This food preference is specifically because something in the mouth hurts them, so they're looking for an alternative that doesn't require them to chew. Also, even though the condition of your dog's teeth is not visible to you, he can still feel it with sensitive gums and therefore has altered his eating behaviour accordingly. It's indicative of your lack of attention to your dog's dental health.
5. Too Much Drooling
Your dog may be drooling more than usual, which can also signify that something isn't right with his mouth. Like he's changed his eating habits, your dog may also favour one side if there are some issues in the mouth area.
Drooling may be normal, but it doesn't mean that it's healthy. High inflammation in the mouth is usually accompanied by drooling, so see your vet right away if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Tooth abscesses could also cause, and only a vet can figure it out for sure. The worst-case scenario is the abscess ruptures, so never wait for this to happen. The vet will most likely pull the tooth out as it's the only way to stop the infection.
Looking After Your Dog's Oral Health
Like us humans, dogs need their pearly whites to be healthy and strong. It's not easy, but it's no Herculean task either. Just remember to brush your dog's teeth regularly. If that's too much for you to cover, the best alternative is to hand Fido some treats that will help fight plaque and tartar, i.e., dental chews and bones.
Do your part in celebrating pet dental health month by making the most fun out of your responsibility of keeping your dog's teeth clean. Show your enthusiasm in cleaning and checking Fido's mouth regularly, and you'll find it rewarding in no time.
Your canine buddy may not understand it at first; they may even be uncomfortable with all the tinkering. Yet, you know how critical it is to have strong teeth. It's best to start them early, so they grow up getting used to it.