Hello Everyone! I'm starting a new format for some of my blogs this year because well, its time to spice it up! I'm going to be answering your questions about all things medical in a fun, straight to the point Question and Answer. Think of it like Dear Abby, only I wouldn't recommend asking me about things outside the dog realm.
To kick off, here are some questions about dogs and their dental care in honor of February being Dental Awareness Month. If your vet has recommended having your dog's teeth cleaned, February is usually a good time to do it because most places offer great discounts. See below for some great Q&A to start us off for 2016!
“My dog has terrible breath. Is there anything I can do?”
A: Dental Disease is the most common cause of “dog breath”. Leftover food and bacteria form soft deposits on the teeth called plaque, which eventually hardens in to tarter. Those deposits irritate the gums forming pathways for bacteria to access the tooth roots. These bacteria are responsible for infection, pain and tooth loss and looping around to your original question, bad breath. These pathways also provide access to the bloodstream where bacteria has access to every major organ in the body. You should check your dog’s teeth for yellow, brown or gray gunk (scientific word), that’s tarter. Red, instead of pink gums indicate gingivitis and sores on the lips all indicate dental disease. The best thing to do is make an appointment with your vet to assess whether your dog needs a cleaning. Once they have been cleaned, it will be up to you to keep them that way. For more information, click here. “Brush on, Brush off.”
“My dog is only 5 years old but her teeth are very worn. Do you know what can cause this?"
A: There are lots of things that can cause excessive wear on teeth. Something you may not have heard of is tennis-ball mouth, it’s a real thing. Tennis balls are actually very abrasive and can erode your dog’s teeth if they chew on them a lot or even just carry them around for several hours a day. Usually the body can compensate for this by rebuilding what is eroded away, however sometimes it can’t keep up and the center of the tooth, called the pulp, can be exposed. Your dog may stop eating because this can be pretty painful or they may have developed an abscess or infection. To prevent your dog’s teeth from wearing down too quickly, try to substitute other toys for tennis balls, like a soft rubber Kong or other safe toys made of a more tooth-friendly material. If your dog is drooling more than usual, having trouble eating or isn’t playing with his toys as much as he usually does, you should check his mouth. Better yet, make an appointment with your vet. Worn teeth are not a medical emergency but you should have them checked out next time your dog has an exam.
“My dog has lost several teeth because of infections when she came to rescue. Is there any point in brushing the ones that she has left? Should I be worried about her ability to eat or if she needs a special food?"
A: It’s never too late! Even senior dogs or dogs with damaged teeth need proper tooth care. A soft toothbrush for human babies is a good place to start if your dog has sensitivities. There are also antibacterial mouth sprays and even gels that can be put on their teeth. Taking good care of her teeth will keep her pain free! In order to properly clean teeth, dogs must be anesthetized and their risk for problems increases with age and major organ disease. A good at home care program will keep your dog from the need for frequent professional cleanings. As for food choices, even a dog who has no teeth will find a way to eat! Canned food or even softening kibble in water may help make eating easier. There are other foods available now that are dehydrated and can be reconstituted with water which can help boost protein intake for dogs that are having a hard time eating.
Have a question you want answered? Send them to me! You might see your question featured in our next Q&A!