Has your dog come up to lick your face and you noticed an awful stench coming from his mouth? Bad breath is an early and most easily detected sign of periodontal disease, or in your dog’s case, canine gum disease.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Food particles and bacteria collect along the gum line, forming plaque. If plaque is not removed it hardens and becomes tartar. The tartar irritates the gums causing inflammation called gingivitis. Gingivitis is the actual cause of bad breath. As tartar builds it begins to separate the gums from the teeth, forming pockets which promote even more bacteria growth. When teeth have reached this point it is known as periodontal disease and the damage is irreversible.
Does this sound familiar? Tartar, gingivitis, and periodontal disease are things that affect human teeth as well as canine. The only difference is that dogs can’t brush their own teeth every night. Periodontal disease can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, bone loss, or infection that can spread to the rest of the body. Dogs can and have died from this disease. Of course, certain environmental factors as well as genetic factors can attribute to the disease. Older dogs, smaller breeds, and short-faced breeds are at greater risk for periodontal disease. Hard kibble is a little better than wet food in that is creates less plaque. And most importantly of all, whether you clean your dog’s teeth or have them cleaned regularly makes a world of difference.
Treatment for periodontal disease varies depending on the stage of the disease. All cases start out with a visit to the vet. The stage of the disease will determine whether the dog gets a professional teeth cleaning or a tooth extraction.
Caring for your dogs teeth
You have a couple of options in caring for your dog’s teeth and preventing periodontal disease. In-home prevention should always be on the top of the list. Plaque hardens in 3-5 days. Brushing your dog’s teeth every couple of days or even once a week can save you hundreds of dollars down the line. There are plenty of brushes and dog toothpaste on the market. Remember: dog toothpaste is not the same as human toothpaste and is safe for the dog to ingest; No rinsing needed. But dogs can only use dog toothpaste!
Your second option, professional teeth cleaning, should be combined with in-home teeth cleaning. Overall, taking your dog for a professional teeth cleaning at least once a year is better than not at all, but if you do not do any in-home teeth cleaning, you risk the possibility of Fido developing gum disease. Remember: 1 year for a dog is like 7 years for a human. Going one year without dental care is like you going 7 years without brushing or seeing the dentist! Most veterinarians do teeth cleaning, but usually by putting the dog under anesthesia first. If that makes you uncomfortable there are companies that clean dog’s teeth without using anesthesia, offering professional teeth cleaning as often as once a month.
Canine Care is one of the leading anesthesia-free teeth cleaning companies in California. The company is mobile, sending licensed Dentists, dental hygienists, and registered veterinary technicians to over 600 various dog care and supply facilities across the state. Canine Care services 2 locations in Corona, 5 locations in Riverside, 5 locations in Redlands, 2 locations in San Bernardino, and 1 location in Moreno Valley. For more information about a location near you and the next teeth cleaning day, check out their website.