Want to make sure your adult dog’s teeth are in tip-top shape? There’s good reason: Periodontal disease, the most common illness in dogs, affects 85 percent of canines 5 years and older and is linked to loss of teeth, jaw fractures, and other serious issues, like heart, kidney, liver, and lung disease, according to the Animal Medical Center. Dental disease is also one of the most easily preventable health issues for dogs. Here’s how to get and keep healthy adult dog teeth for your dog.
checking Your Dog's Mouth
You can check your dog’s teeth by gently holding their muzzle and pulling up their lips. Dogs with good oral hygiene typically have:
- Clean teeth, free of any browning
- No loose teeth
- Pink gums (not white or red) without any evidence of inflammation or bleeding
- No excess drool
Signs of Dental Disease in Dogs
If you're concerned your pet may be suffering from tooth problems, be on the lookout for these symptoms of dental disease:
- Bad breath: No dog’s breath is sweet or appetizing--you’ve see what they eat--but there shouldn’t be a stench emanating from your dog’s mouth. If there is, it could be halitosis.
- Regularly using paws around the mouth area
- Avoidance of hard food or dropping food as they try to eat
- Gums that are red and inflamed
- Browning of the teeth
- Excessive drooling
- Swelling under one eye--this can indicate a tooth root abcess
Steps to Healthy Teeth in Adult Dogs
Just one percent of pet parents brush their pet’s teeth*, which is, according to American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC), the “single most effective means to maintain oral health between dental examinations” in pets. AVDC recommends daily brushing with toothpastes and toothbrushes made for pets. Find out how to brush your dog's teeth.
If that’s just not possible with your schedule, weekly brushing is still a good idea. Here are some other tips:
- Try a dental diet. Some dog foods are formulated to improve dental health.
- Consider rawhide and chew treats (particularly those with anti-tartar ingredients), which, if chewed daily, can help promote dental health.
- Offer your pet chew toys, which, if played with routinely over time, can also help.
- Take your dog to the vet for checkups and cleanings.
- Ask your vet about a dental sealant to prevent plaque and tartar buildup.
When Dental Disease Goes Unnoticed
According to the AVDC, “most pets with painful dental conditions do not show clinical signs that are obvious to the owner but this does not mean that they are not feeling pain.” The reason? In nature, animals do not display signs of weakness, and domestic pets can retain this trait. Because dental pain can develop over time, and is more likely to affect middle-age and older pets, the symptoms may be mistaken for a natural slowdown or a development of a “grumpy” demeanor related to age. The AVDC explains that, once treated, pets who have been living with dental pain can act years younger.
Keep on the lookout for signs of dental problems in your dog, and be sure to ask your vet about your dog’s dental health at every checkup. Your dog should see a vet at least once a year, and twice a year once they become a senior.
*According to a report by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
More on Dog Dental Health
19 Products That Clean Cat and Dog Teeth
5 Ways to Improve Your Dog's Dental Health
Causes of Cat and Dog Bad Breath
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.