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Common Signs of

Dental & Teeth

Problems in Dogs

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The Right way to Dental Care for your Dog

Dogs have 28 deciduous teeth (temporary) and 42 permanent teeth. Deciduous or milk teeth begin to appear when a puppy is about four weeks of age, and are lost gradually between 14 and 30 weeks of age. During this time, puppies may eat slightly less and chew more. Hard rubber or rawhide toys made especially for dogs are a good investment to help prevent household damage during this time.

Common signs of dental problems in dogs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Red, swollen and bleeding gums
  • Drooling
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Yellow-brown tartar at the gum line
  • Broken teeth
  • Foul breath

Dogs sometimes suffer from broken teeth, often a result of biting on sticks or rocks. A cracked or broken tooth can be painful if the nerve tissue is exposed; if it becomes infected, there is the danger of the infection spreading through the bloodstream. Prompt veterinary attention is recommended.

Dog Dental Problems

To ensure your dog's dental health, they require dental care on a regular basis. Otherwise they may develop problems.

Dog dental problems may also result from injury, foreign bodies such as porcupine quills or foxtail, malnutrition or systemic diseases which infect the mouth as well as other parts of the body.

Occasionally a puppy or kitten will retain some deciduous (baby) teeth after the permanent teeth have appeared. This may damage the soft tissues of the mouth and may even accelerate wear of permanent teeth. A veterinarian should be consulted to determine whether or not removal is necessary.

The following is an excerpt from the American Kennel Club Dog Care and Training Book.

"Dental hygiene is often ignored in the dog. The outcome? Consider what your teeth might look and feel like after months, years or even a lifetime of neglect. They would be a wreck, and you would be miserable.

Yes, canine teeth also need frequent brushing to prevent gum disease and early tooth loss, as well as just plain foul breath.

Despite the popular conception, dog biscuits and bones do not keep the teeth clean and healthy. Although some veterinarians feel that gnawing on these hard substances has benefit, it does not prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar which, unless removed, can lead to gum inflammation, tooth root abscesses and other oral problems. That's the simple truth.

The teeth should be brushed at least once or twice a week, more often if possible. As with grooming, acclimation is best started early in the puppy's life.

To make a toothbrush, fold a square gauze pad loosely around the tip of your index finger. Or you can use a small, soft child's toothbrush or buy a special toothbrush from a veterinarian.

Dip the toothbrush or gauze pad in a toothpaste designed for dogs (not for humans, since human formulations can upset the dog's stomach) or into a paste made of baking soda and water.

Next, vigorously scrub the outside surfaces of the teeth, especially the rear teeth. With the gauze pad, you may also try to gently massage the gums. It is not necessary to brush the interior surfaces of the teeth.

Your veterinarian should check your dog's mouth for tooth or gum disease during annual checkups. The most common problem, tartar accumulation, resembles yellow or brown cement deposits along the gumline or in the crevices of the teeth. Despite your best efforts, a proper dental cleaning under general anesthesia may need to be performed periodically in a veterinarian's office.

Certain breeds commonly retain their baby teeth, especially the canines. In that case, duplicate sets of teeth are seen in the dog's mouth after approximately six months of age. Retained baby teeth can cause malocclusion, since they prevent adult teeth from growing into their correct positions. Retained baby teeth are often extracted by a veterinarian."

Tippy Says:

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