Gum disease known as periodontitis is the number one cause of poor dental health in both humans, and our furry friends. Periodontitis occurs fives times more often in dogs than in humans due to dogs saliva being more basic as well as the lack of daily brushing.
Dogs instinctively hide signs of periodontitis, and often by the time signs are visible the damage has already been done, and we find that our faithful companions have been suffering pain for some time.
- Bleeding or red gums,
- Blood on toys,
- Bad breath,
- Loose teeth,
- Head shyness,
- Excessive salivation,
- Chewing on one side,
- Problems chewing up food,
- Nasal discharge
To help access the health of your dog’s teeth, an oral examination is performed by your vet. If there is some plaque buildup, or any of the symptoms I just mentioned, dental x-rays, and further examination under general anaesthetic will be recommended.
When it comes to treatment a dental scale and polish under general anaesthetic is performed to remove plaque and tartar. Loose teeth, or those with painful decay through to the sensitive pulp may need to be removed.
As with anything prevention is always better than cure. So to help prevent gum disease in your dog, it’s important to brush their teeth daily. You can buy a finger brush, or other dog specific brush and toothpaste. It’s also important to identify gum disease early, so yearly dental examinations under general anaesthetic are recommended.
In addition to brushing, and examinations, but definitely not as a substitute on their own, there are specific chews, dental dry foods, and water additives that can be used to prevent plaque hardening, or to actually physically remove the plaque. Try to avoid hard or inappropriately sized raw bones, cooked bones, nylon bones, or hard animal parts like hooves. These can all lead to fractures in teeth.
In severe cases, periodontitis contributes to heart, liver and kidney disease as well as jaw fractures. So, keeping your dog’s teeth in good condition is super important.
Fortunately, dental illness is an optional add-on with HIF’s top cover pet insurance.