Wondering “what should I do when my dog starts losing his teeth?” Dental health is something that is too often overlooked by dog owners, and it usually falls into two categories – a lack of knowledge or a lack of funds. Sometimes it can be both. Today, I want to talk about dental health in our dogs. Not only does proper oral care help keep our dogs’ teeth intact, it also helps keep them generally healthier which is something that most people don’t realize.
I was prompted to write this post by a very simple question I came across in the forums the other day: My poodle is only 6 years old, and her teeth are falling out. What should I do?
As a 7 year veteran in the animal healthcare field, I immediately jumped to dental health. It’s the number one – and almost exclusive – cause of dog’s losing their teeth. So today, we’re going to talk about how to take care of your dog’s mouth and why that is so important.
Dental Health for Better Health
Like I said, taking care of your dog’s mouth can keep him healthier all the way around. In the vet field we say that a healthy mouth makes a healthy dog. That’s because an infected mouth can open your dog up for bacteria to enter his bloodstream, which can lead to all sorts of problems like heart, liver, and kidney disease. In addition to that, a mouth that hasn’t been properly cared for is just downright painful.
Symptoms of Poor Oral Health
The symptoms of a dog with poor oral health are quite specific. Keep an eye out for them if your dog hasn’t had a good dental cleaning in the past year or two.
- Slow eating or “pecking” at food – This can indicate that your dog’s mouth is painful and that it hurts him to eat.
- Foul breath – I’m not talking your average “dog breath”. A dog with an infected mouth will have breath that is absolutely foul. Like gag you foul.
- Redness and inflammation of the gums – Gums that are red and inflamed are most likely infected.
- Aversion to the face being touched – In severe cases of poor dental health, your dog may not let you touch his muzzle or anywhere near his muzzle due to the intense pain.
- Tooth loss
Health Problems Associated with Poor Oral Health
When a dog’s mouth gets bad enough, his gums will become inflamed due to infection. This inflammation can open in-roads to his blood stream. This allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream through your dog’s infected gums. Over time, this bacteria can affect your dog’s heart, liver, and kidneys. In fact, some heart valve problems can be caused or made worse by bacteria that has migrated from the mouth to the heart.
What should I do when my dog starts losing his teeth?
It’s important to make sure that you’re on point when it comes to your dog’s dental health. You can do this by being getting your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned at your vet whenever necessary and taking steps at home to ensure that his dental and oral health are always up to snuff.
- Brush Your Dog’s Teeth – Most dogs will tolerate this if you start them out young. Simply get an enzymatic, flavored dog toothpaste and lightly brush the outside of the teeth up to the gum line with a finger brush.
- Chlorhexidine Chews – These are rawhide chews which have been infused with chlorhexidine, an antibacterial substance. These chews serve two purposes. Fist, chewing helps remove plaque from the teeth. Second, the chlorhexidine ensures that your dog’s mouth is free of harmful bacteria. Give one chew either morning or at night.
- Regular Professional Cleanings – At a certain point, your dog will need a professional cleaning. Don’t put this off. A good professional cleaning keeps your dog’s mouth healthy, which keeps him healthy.
Make Dental Health a Priority
Dental health is a key component to your dog’s overall health. Not only is an unhealthy, infected mouth painful, it can also open your dog up to serious organ damage over time. Follow the proactive steps I listed above to ensure that your dog’s dental health is always on point, and you’ll have a healthier, happier pooch.