My sister’s dog Quella started to have red and swollen gums and bleeding last summer, but my sister didn’t pay attention to these at first. Then, a few months later, Quella began to lose appetite, refused to eat, lost a lot of weight, and developed a cough and shortness of breath. Finally, my sister took him to the hospital for treatment, and the doctor diagnosed him with heart valve disease, but we were even more shocked to hear that the root cause of all this was dental disease.
Common Dental Diseases in Dogs
Some common dental conditions that you should watch out for in your dogs include:
1. Deciduous Teeth Retention
If your dog’s deciduous teeth don’t fall off on time, it will affect the growth of permanent teeth, and it can easily collect food residues and hair that ultimately lead to mouth odor and infection.
If your dog’s deciduous teeth stay longer than seven months later, it becomes difficult for them to fall off on their own. This subsequently calls for expert intervention to extract them in time. Otherwise, it will cause dental calculus, gingivitis, and periodontitis. This disease is most common in small dogs, like Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, and Poodles.
Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases affecting dogs. According to reports, its prevalence in dogs over three years old is at least 80%. The condition is an inflammatory disease that affects the supporting tissues of the teeth. The major manifestations of the disease:
- Red and swollen gums
- Periodontal pocket formation
- Periodontal pocket pus
- Loose teeth
- Gum recession
- Periodontal abscess
If you notice that your dog has periodontal disease, you’ll most likely observe a decline in their appetite, that they prefer to eat wet food, and are unwilling to chew on toys. This disease requires emergency attention; if left untreated for too long, the teeth will gradually fall out and may further lead to myocarditis and kidney disease.
3. Cracked or Broken Teeth
Generally speaking, teeth are powerful and not easily broken. But, the high-impact activities that dogs engage in make them prone to teeth fractures; the most common causes of such fractures are collisions, biting hard on objects, abrasions, etc.
Furthermore, when the tooth is broken, the root canal might become exposed, causing infection of the pulp cavity. If the condition isn’t tackled immediately, inflammation will develop to the root tip, resulting in secondary periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is usually caused by dental plaque and dental calculus. Affected dogs may have bad breath, red and swollen gums, mild atrophy of gums, and bleeding gums. It might also be accompanied by excruciating pain and limits your baby from eating normally. An ultrasonic tooth cleaning treatment is due if the gingivitis has progressed thus far. But, again, leaving the disease untreated can cause periodontal disease.
Remember, if the mouth is in poor condition, it’ll do nothing to help your dog’s appetite. Instead, it will prevent them from absorbing the required nutrients and maintaining a good physical condition.
Common Complications of Dental Diseases
If you don’t quickly notice your dogs’ dental diseases, it may ultimately cause other diseases of the body. Thus the importance of constantly inspecting your pet’s teeth. Here are a few debilitating conditions that are averagely linked to dental diseases:
- Loss of Appetite
Tooth decay and other similar problems can cause gum pain and tooth necrosis, leading to loss of appetite and difficulty eating. Likewise, periodontal disease can cause gum swelling, inflammation, and bleeding, severely damage the gum tissue, generate a large amount of tooth shake, and eventually cause many teeth to fall out.
- Heart Valve Infection
If a bacteria infection in your dog’s mouth is left untreated, it can get into the heart valve, causing bacterial endocarditis. Once bacterial endometritis occurs, it may permanently damage the heart tissue, leading to heart disease and even heart failure in the dog. In severe cases, this condition might be life-threatening.
- Sepsis (Blood Infection)
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that can arise if extensive bacteria grow in the mouth, leading to an invasion of the dog’s circulatory system. If purulent, the dog is likely to die if it is not treated promptly.
- Liver Abscess
Like humans, the liver is a vital organ for dogs. The liver can produce bile to help digestion and help remove waste from the body. In addition, the liver helps your dog metabolize fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals and filters out toxins and waste from food and medicine. So, when they swallow bacteria in the oral cavity, it can quickly enter their liver and cause a liver abscess, which is expensive and somewhat challenging to manage.
Severe dental disease can lead to bone infections and jaw fractures. Bone infection (osteomyelitis) is not only painful but can also lead to a life-threatening complication in which a ruptured maxilla or mandible may not heal. This is especially true in small dogs that are most susceptible to dental disease. The bones under the teeth are exposed to infection and become brittle. It isn’t easy to heal when these bones are broken, and sometimes even a veterinarian might not find a solution.
Dog Breeds That Are Susceptible to Dental Diseases
Now that you have learned about the common dental diseases and complications that can arise without proper care, you’ll agree that prevention is better than cure. Therefore, you must know the dog breeds that are more prone to such conditions so that you can pay special attention to their dental hygiene. The three most common species that are affected are:
Chihuahuas have 42 teeth for a small dog, which is very crowded for their tiny jaws, causing food debris to gather near their teeth. Plaque bacteria can quickly accumulate, destroy soft and hard tissues, and cause periodontal disease.
The narrow nose and mouth of the Dachshund make it easy to form periodontal pockets. The gums in the periodontal pockets will have varying degrees of inflammation, the gums are red or dark purple, and the gums are swollen. As a result, the gums easily bleed when eating, and sometimes pus overflows, causing bad breath. If the periodontal pocket is further deepened, it can cause the continuous destruction of periodontal supporting tissues, resulting in the gradual loosening and displacement of the teeth, the gradual widening of the interdental space, and even the loss of teeth.
- Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu’s teeth grow out of the gums later than usual. That can cause problems such as tooth impaction and tooth-bearing cysts. Your veterinarian might recommend oral surgery to promote tooth growth.
How Are Dental Diseases Treated?
The treatment of the dental disease depends on the specific problem but may include:
- Anti-inflammatory pain relief: Your veterinarian may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers to make your dog’s mouthless swollen and more comfortable.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are sometimes (but not always) necessary to fight infection.
- Dental surgery: Most dogs with dental disease need some dental surgery. This can range from simple scale and polishing to tooth extraction. The only way to safely clean or extract a tooth is under general anesthesia.
- Dog mouthwash: A special dog-safe mouthwash can be added to your dog’s drinking water to help keep their mouth clean. Never use human mouthwash for your dog.
Remember, pay special attention to your dog’s oral hygiene to promote their general well-being and at any sign of dental diseases, consult your veterinarian immediately.