Dogs Need Dental Care Too
Oftentimes we rarely associate dental care with our pets. We seem to have this notion that animals are self-cleaning animals (which, in some ways, they are), and with the thought that they have survived in the wild without any human contact before, it’s easy to assume pets don’t need a routine visit to the vet regarding dental care. This could prove to be disastrous for you and your beloved furry friend.
Animals such as dogs have teeth like humans that are mostly made up of calcium. Within each tooth there is a pulp that contains nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels. Much like humans, animal teeth need to be looked after as well. It has been reported that as much as 80% of dogs will develop periodontal (or gum) disease by the time they reach the age of 2. Another quite concerning report is that only 7% of dog owners regularly brush their pet’s teeth everyday.
Here are other interesting facts about dogs’ teeth:
- Dogs have “baby teeth” like humans. They go through two sets of teeth during their lifetime. Like children, a puppy’s teeth fall off during its 4th to 6th months of age but unlike children where the process takes years to complete, for puppies it takes about a few weeks in total. The puppy teeth fall off, and any remaining root gets absorbed into the gums.
- Adult dogs have more teeth than humans. Most people have 32, while adult dogs have 42. The adult teeth develop even before the puppies are born. When the puppy teeth begin falling off, the adult teeth take its place.
- Dogs teeth don’t work the same way as human teeth do. When we eat, we pulverise the food to turn it into a mush, making it much easier for us to swallow and digest. For dogs, their teeth provide a slicing action at the back while their front teeth are used for pulling, grasping, lifting, and in some cases, for self-defense .
- Canine cavities are quite rare. Puppies and dogs aren’t accustomed to eating sugary treats (unlike us), making their saliva’s structure different from ours. In humans, our saliva contains specific bacteria that is responsible for breaking down sugars into acid (causing cavities if we don’t brush our teeth often). In the event a dog develops cavities, it would be mainly due to eating fruits like bananas. Its treatment is the same as humans: the affected teeth structure is removed and replaced with a composite filling.
- Dogs’ root structure slightly differs from humans’. A dog’s three upper molars has two roots, while its two lower molars has three. Interestingly, their roots are surprisingly long. The crowns are ⅓ of the total length of the tooth, while the incisor teeth’s crown is ¼ the length of the entire teeth.
Despite having marked differences, this shouldn’t prevent you from taking extra care and precaution when it comes to your pet’s dental hygiene.
Dental Care Tips for Dogs
Dogs are prone to periodontal disease, and signs include:
- Bleeding gums
- Reddish gums
- Bad breath
- Favouring one side while eating
- Thick saliva
- Blood in water and food dishes
- Rubbing their face on the floor or with their paws
- Dropping food from their mouth while they eat
- When their face begins to swell
If your dog has been exhibiting signs of periodontal disease, go to your vet as soon as possible to have it checked. Having it checked by a professional and getting care tips is the best thing you can do.
If left untreated, gum disease could easily spread to other parts of its body and affect vital organs. This can cause a host of other health-related problems such as heart disease and even stroke.
It pays to be more mindful and observant with your dog. Aside from the fact that they cannot verbally tell us when they are feeling unwell or when something is hurting, they also have a tendency to downplay any ailment because they don’t want to appear weak.
There are many products available in the market today to help combat periodontal disease, tartar, and plaque. There are wipes for easy cleaning; a toothpaste made especially for dogs; drops you can add to their water; and even dental dog treats that are made up of special ingredients. All of these can be very helpful when you are in-between visits to the vet.
While your dog is young, make it a habit to brush their teeth so they are used to it. If you plan to implement this new habit with an older dog, keep in mind that you need to be patient and to always assert yourself as “alpha” within your pack. This will give your dog the idea that you should be obeyed.
Whenever you have a question or you are unsure about something, contact your local veterinary clinic like Sugarland Vet Clinic where its friendly staff and knowledgeable veterinarians will assist you the best way they can.