Oral hygiene is as important to our mouths as it is to our dog's. While brushing your pet's teeth may not always be a walk in the park (hah, see what I did there?), it is important to maintain a regular routine of keeping your pet's teeth and mouth clean. Without some sort of a dental routine for your pup, your dog could run the risk of getting a serious dental-related illness that affects their everyday life.
“Most pet parents don't look at their pet's teeth regularly and wouldn't know what to look for if they did,”---- Dr. Andy DeStefano, Dunedin Animal Medical Center
Here are 3 situations when you should see your vet about your dog's teeth:
Persistent bad breath
Halitosis, or chronic bad breath, can arise because of odor-causing bacteria living in your dog’s mouth, kidneys, lungs, or gastrointestinal tract. Most commonly, halitosis in canines forms because of gum or dental disease, also referred to as periodontal disease.
Brushing your dog's teeth is important, but halitosis can be a sign of a bigger problem in your dog's mouth, respiratory system, or gastrointestinal tract.
If bad breath is still a problem for your pet after implementing an oral hygiene routine, a trip to the vet is recommended to investigate other possible causes.
Accumulation of Plaque or Tartar/Irritated Gums
VCA Animal Hospitals says, "Plaqueis a gummy substance that forms on the teeth within a few hours after a meal. Within 24 hours, plaque begins to harden by combining with salts that are present in the saliva." Without regular brushing, plaque turns into tartar, giving bacteria an optimal place to grow in your dog's mouth. If this goes untreated long enough, bacteria can migrate to the gums, leading to gingivitis.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, and considered to be one of the first signs of periodontal disease.
According to PetMD, "Red or swollen gums, especially on the side of the gum facing the inner cheeks is a sign of gingivitis." Thankfully, it is reversible.
Talk to your vet about switching to a dog food containing ingredients that help clean your dog's teeth when he eats, or additives that can help keep plaque from hardening.
Trouble picking up food
If your pup isn't eating with as much vigor as he did in the past, or is having a hard time picking up kibble, it may also be a sign of the aforementioned gingivitis, or periodontal disease. This can also include favoring one side of the mouth for chewing.
If either of these are symptoms your pup is experiencing, letting the vet get a good look at his chompers is a good idea. Trying to investigate may end up making Fido uncomfortable and unwilling to show you his/her teeth—complicating things for the vet.
Like the quote from Dr. DeStefano implies, leave it to the vet to do the vet’s job.
Bristly keeps your dog's mouth clean in-between vet visits.
You brush your teeth everyday between your dentist visits, so should your dog. The only proven way to prevent plaque build-up, gingivitis, and periodontal disease is to brush!