The Link Between Dental Health And Overall Wellbeing In Dogs

The Link Between Dental Health And Overall Wellbeing In Dogs

The Link Between Dental Health And Overall Wellbeing In Dogs

As a dog owner, one of your main responsibilities is to ensure that your pet is fit and healthy. Most people would associate this with regular exercise, a balanced diet and regular veterinary check ups. However, there are a lot of pet owners that overlook the importance of excellent dental care for their dogs.

This isn’t something that’s intentionally ignored but it’s easy not to make the link between your dog’s oral health and his overall wellbeing. But when you look at the research, it’s clear to see that bad dental health can have a direct impact on your dog’s general health.

In this guide, I’ll be looking at why it’s so important to include regular dental care in your dog’s healthcare routine. As a Veterinary professional I am fortunate enough to have some first hand information and experience to demonstrate why we need to be vigilant when it comes to our dogs’ teeth and overall dental health.

Key Takeaways

  • Poor dental health is a very common issue seen in our canine furry friends.
  • Poor dental health has significant negative impacts on our dogs both physical and mental health.
  • Dental disease can be seen in any breed & age dog although is more common in older ages and small/ toy breeds.
  • It is important for owners to monitor their dog for signs of dental disease, including bad breath, bleeding from gums, reddening of gums, weight loss and tooth loss.
  • There are many methods which can be implemented by owners at home to prevent dental disease, including PlaqueOff Powder, dental chews, dry food diets and regular tooth brushing.
  • Regular dental check-ups with a Veterinary professional are vital to detect, diagnose and treat dental disease before it becomes worse.

Understanding Dental Health in Dogs

We’re probably all familiar with the term dog breath and it’s thrown around so loosely that many people believe that bad breath in dogs is normal. But it isn’t; this is just one of the side effects of poor dental health and it could cause serious problems for your pup down the line.

There are lots of other symptoms your pet may experience when his dental health isn’t in tip top condition such as bleeding gums, pain, a loss of appetite and many more. So, before I get into how dental health and overall wellbeing are linked, I’d like to talk about why dental health is so essential.

Importance Of Dental Health

Good dental health in dogs cannot be understated and without it, your dog may develop periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease doesn’t just come on all of a sudden; it usually begins as gingivitis (inflammation and infection of the gums.) It’s caused by poor dental hygiene which leads to a build up of bad bacteria and can be very painful for your dog.

Once this condition is exacerbated, periodontal disease isn’t far behind which again, is no fun for your dog and may affect his overall health.

But all of this can be avoided and your dog can be much healthier and happier just by implementing a good dental health routine.

Signs Of Dental Issues In Dogs

Signs Of Dental Issues In Dogs

Your furry companion may not be able to communicate to you about any dental pain, but there are several telltale signs that can indicate it. Even if your dog is not comfortable with toothbrushes and toothpaste, it’s crucial to regularly examine their mouth for any signs of dental problems.

Unfortunately dental disease can usually usually goes unnoticed by owners and only detected in its advanced stages, making proper dental care for dogs essential. If you observe any of the following symptoms, it could be an indication that your dog has periodontal disease, and you should seek advice from your local Veterinary professional:

  • Inflamed gums (Gingivitis)
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Teeth discoloration
  • Excessive drooling
  • Ropey saliva
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Decreased appetite
  • Bad breath
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth

Common Dental Problems In Dogs

Common Dental Problems In Dogs - Plaque Accumulation

As I have mentioned, periodontal disease is a problem in dogs and it’s one of the leading dental issues vets see.

Periodontal disease is an umbrella term for many oral conditions, a common one being gingivitis. This occurs when we see reddening, swelling and bleeding around the gumline. Another very common condition is plaque accumulation which builds up on the teeth due to of poor dental hygiene. This plaque, if not removed, eventually turns into a more solid substance known as tartar and this can affect both humans and animals.

The problem with tartar is that it’s the perfect surface for bacteria to stick to and this leads to further health issues around the teeth and gums. The presence of this bacteria can lead to further complications such as tooth decay, bad breath and even loose teeth which eventually fall out.

There is also a condition called endodontic disease which occurs inside the teeth after trauma. This could be induced by biting down on a hard object or an accident such as a collision in a RTA (road traffic accident). This high impact trauma induces a tooth fracture occur, allowing bacteria to enter and cause pulpititis, tooth decay, pain and other dental issues. While this isn’t a direct result of poor dental hygiene, ensuring your dog’s mouth and teeth are kept as clean as possible will reduce the risk of infection or complications after trauma.

 

Overall Wellbeing Of Dogs

Imagine having a dental problem; an abscess behind a tooth, gum disease, pain, inflammation or anything else; it’s going to make you feel miserable. Not only this but dental problems in dogs can impact other aspects of their physical health so it’s really important to stay on top of things.

Physical Health

Dental Health - Impact on Physical and Mental Health

A leading issue in dogs with dental disease is a loss of appetite. This is down to the pain that the animal experiences when eating. I’m sure you’ve had a painful tooth in the past and the last thing you want to do is chow down on an apple or some raw carrot, for example. Your dog feels exactly the same.

A loss of appetite and refusing to eat means that your dog won’t be getting all of those important nutrients and this has an immediate impact on his overall physical wellbeing. They may also appear more lethargic as he won’t be getting the energy and calories they needs to be their usual self.

On top of this, not eating will cause your dog to lose weight. Again, this may make your dog appear less energetic and they may not want to do the things they usually enjoy. As mentioned in my YouTube video, it is vital to body condition score your dog, as this is a great way utilised by veterinary professionals to monitor changes in weight/ weight loss which occurs as a results of dental disease.

Other physical health problems may also arise as a result of periodontal disease and other dental issues. For example, it has been proven that dogs with this condition are more susceptible to heart disease. Scientists are yet to discover the exact link between the two but there is clear evidence to suggest that there is one.

Moreover, severe periodontal disease doesn’t only affect the teeth; the problem can spread to the jaw. The problem with this is that the jaw bone is significantly weakened and much more prone to fractures as breaks as a result of minor trauma. In the most extreme cases, something as seemingly normal as biting down on reasonably hard food could cause the jaw to break. Jaw fractures tend to be more commonly seen in cats and smaller dogs, due to their smaller size meaning their jaw bones smaller, thinner and therefore more prone to fractures.

Mental Health

If your dog is in pain, this is going to affect their quality of life and that will have a direct impact on their mental health.

Dogs are pretty good at hiding pain but it can sometimes become so great in animals with periodontal disease that there’s no getting away from it. This can make your dog’s life miserable and as an animal lover, I’m sure that’s the last thing you want.

Since your dog cannot tell you that there is a problem, this can often be displayed via changes in his behaviour. Dogs that are experiencing pain may become withdrawn, timid and in some cases, may even become aggressive if you try to touch them in a painful area. Monitoring your dog’s behavior is an essential part of detecting disease early on. Changes in behavior can indicate that something is wrong, and catching it early can make a significant difference in your dog’s health and improve the overall prognosis.

Establishing The Connection

Without looking too deeply into it, it would be easy to assume that dental health didn’t have all that much of an overall impact. But scientists have been studying the issue closely and have demonstrated that there is a clear connection.

Research Findings

In a study that observed more than 22,000 dogs over a period of 12 months, it was shown that as many as 12.5% of the animals were suffering with periodontal disease. It was also noted that certain breeds, particularly smaller ones like toy dogs, flat-faced dogs, and medium breeds like spaniels were at the highest risk.

It’s also been shown that there is a clear link between conditions like heart disease and kidney disease and periodontal disease so it’s evident that poor dental health can have a devastating impact on your pet’s overall health.

Within the same study, researchers noticed that age played a key role in a dog’s susceptibility to dental disease. In fact, dogs over the age of 12 were more than 3 times more likely to develop the condition than younger breeds. By ensuring good health over the course of your dog’s life, this could reduce risks in the future.

A Vet’s Perspective

A Vet’s Perspective - Maintaining Dental Health

As a veterinary professional, there are several essential points I would like owners to keep in mind regarding dental disease. These include the importance of regular dental check-ups, the significance of proper dental hygiene practices, and the need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dental disease. By staying vigilant and taking proactive steps to maintain your pet’s oral health, you can help prevent dental problems from developing and ensure that your furry friend stays healthy and happy.

Maintaining Dental Health

To ensure your dog continues having good dental health, you have an ongoing role as his owner. There are lots of things you can do at home to maintain your pet’s oral health including teeth brushing and the use of dental chews. I’ll look at that in more detail shortly but it’s also advisable to have regular check ups with your vet.

Regular Dental Check Ups

You are probably already in the habit of having your dog’s overall health checked at your vets on an annual basis. But did you know that it’s just as important to schedule regular dental checks?

Your vet will be able to detect problems before you may have noticed them at home and offer treatment before things get out of hand.

However, if you are at all concerned about your dog’s dental health then there’s nothing wrong in scheduling an earlier appointment. Waiting until his next routine check up could only lead to greater problems.

Dental Care At Home

One of the simplest and easiest ways to maintain good dental health for your dog at home is to make sure you brush their teeth every day. I’ve written a guide on how to clean your dog’s teeth at home as well as an article on choosing the right toothpaste. This information will help you to form a good dental hygiene routine and has some great tips for getting your dog used to teeth brushing.

Of course, some dogs won’t take to it as easily as others but there are ways of keeping your dog’s teeth clean without brushing. This includes the use of PlaqueOff powders, dental sprays and gels, dental chews, and other methods. For more information on this, check out my full guide here.

Dental chews are a great way to encourage better oral health and there are many benefits to them. You can also use rubber dental toys but it’s important to make sure that you choose toys that are the right size and hardness for your dog’s breed.

I would also strongly recommend regularly checking your dog’s teeth and gums for signs of disease. If you notice anything like bleeding gums, salivating, bad breath, loose or missing teeth, or if your dog loses his appetite, it’s time to contact your vet.

Conclusion

I know that taking good care of my dog is incredibly important and while I’m keen to ensure she gets all of the right nutrients, plenty of exercise and avoids illness, I’m also aware that maintaining her dental health is right up there on my list of priorities.

Periodontal disease is an extremely common problem in dogs but when left untreated, it doesn’t only affect the teeth, gums and mouth. This condition can have a much wider impact on the dog’s overall physical and mental wellbeing.

As owners, it’s our responsibility to ensure our dogs’ teeth are kept clean, strong and healthy and that we provide excellent dental care which includes regular brushing and check ups with the vet.

FAQ’s 

How important is dental health for dogs?

Dental health is of the utmost importance for dogs. Without proper dental hygiene and care, your dog is at risk of developing plaque and tartar build up which can worsen and turn into periodontal disease. This condition will then have a serious effect on your dog’s overall health and your pet may experience pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, bleeding gums and much more. It is therefore vital that pet owners take the time to implement a strict dental health care routine.

Can bad teeth affect a dog’s health?

Yes. Bad teeth don’t just fall out and make it difficult for your dog to eat. It’s been proven that there is a clear link between periodontal disease and heart disease in dogs. Even if things don’t get so severe, your dog may lose weight due to difficulty eating which will decrease his nutrients and energy levels. Moreover, dogs with this condition experience pain, swelling and inflammation which can affect their behaviour and mental wellbeing.

What is the link between oral health and overall wellness?

Since dental disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria, this can result in poor overall health in your dog. Moreover dogs with existing health conditions such as diabetes can develop further complications.

How does dental disease progress in dogs?

Dental disease typically begins with gingivitis in which there is a buildup of plaque on the teeth. This usually presents with red or swollen gums and bad breath. The dog may also experience some pain. If left untreated, the condition can worsen and the gums may begin to recede. With the most severe cases and without treatment, a dog may have a severe build up of brown tartar on the teeth, receding gums, loose or missing teeth, extreme bad breath and a significant amount of pain. What’s more, from here, other organs in the body may be affected.

What are the treatment options for dental disease in dogs?

Depending on the severity of your dog’s dental disease, your vet may offer a variety of solutions. In the least extreme cases, your pet may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and pain relief. Antibiotics may also be offered if necessary. In some cases, it may be that your vet needs to remove some of the affected teeth or your dog may need a scale and polish treatment.

Can dental disease in dogs lead to other health problems?

Yes. Dental disease can have significant negative impacts on your dogs both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Furthermore, their jaw may also be affected due to weakening on the bone and your dog may experience side effects of weight loss due to reduced appetite occurring as a result of pain and inflammation in the oral cavity.

Veterinary Author at AblePaws.co.uk | Website | + posts

Being a 5th year Vet student and having a passion for improving the health and welfare of all animals, I am providing AblePaws.co.uk with a veterinary perspective / insight into the real word applications, including strengths and limitations of the products it reviews. This will allow you to make an informed decision as to the suitability of the pet products reviewed on the site to keep your pet mobile, comfortable and full of life!

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