Dog Dental Health: Importance, Tips, Common Problems

25 April 2024 |

Dog Health
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Your dog’s wagging tail and affectionate licks are some of the things that make pet parenting so rewarding. But what about those dog kisses that could use a little freshening? Dog dental health is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of pet care.

Despite their ability to eat almost anything and seemingly maintain rock-solid teeth, dogs can suffer from various dental issues that affect their breath and overall health. Here, we’ll look into the importance of dog dental health, how to keep it healthy, and what to do when “dog breath” becomes more than an inconvenience.

The Important Role of Dog Dental Health

Your dog’s dental health is the gateway to their overall well-being. As with humans, dental issues in dogs can lead to many problems, from tooth loss to heart disease. Here’s an overview of the importance of dog dental care:

  • Overall Health: Dental hygiene has been linked to various systemic diseases in dogs, including heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. It is essential to be aware that bacteria in the mouth can sometimes get into the bloodstream through the gums., leading to inflammation and potentially affecting vital organs.
  • Preventing Pain: Dental problems can be painful and result in a lower quality of life for your dog. Dogs are stoic and often don’t show obvious signs of dental pain, so staying on top of their oral care is crucial.
  • Healthy Eating: A dog with dental issues may struggle to eat, leading to malnutrition.
  • Long-term Cost Savings: Prevention is better than cure, and regular checkups can help reduce the need for costly dental procedures.

Common Dental Problems in Dogs

Now that we’ve nailed down why dog dental health is vital, let’s sniff out the common issues that might be hiding in your dog or puppy’s mouth:

  • Periodontal Disease: This is the most common dental issue in adult dogs and affects many dogs. It’s an inflammation of the periodontal tissues, including the gums, cementum (the slim layer of hardened dental tissue that covers the roots), periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone.
  • Tooth Decay: Though it’s not as common as in humans, dogs can experience cavities, especially if they consume a diet high in sugar (or if you sneak them sweet treats more than you should!).
  • Gum Inflammation: Also known as gingivitis, gum inflammation turns into periodontal disease when ignored

Tips for Maintaining Dog Dental Health

Now that we know what to look for, how can we proactively approach dog dental care? Here are some top ways to keep your dog’s smile bright and healthy:

  • Regular Brushing: Try brushing your dog’s teeth at least a few times per week using toothpaste and toothbrushes specially formulated for canines. Particularly the first few times you do it, this is an unusual experience for a dog, so go slow and use positive reinforcement to make it an enjoyable experience.
  • Dental Treats, Supplements and Toys: Dental treats, supplements and toys designed to clean teeth can effectively slow plaque and tartar buildup. Look for products from reputable suppliers with good reviews. At Green Pantry, we have a unique natural supplement packed with mint, seaweed, and parsley, which helps target bad breath and plaque. Why not give it a go.
  • Healthy Diet: A correct and balanced diet can support your dog’s dental health by providing the proper nutrients to maintain strong teeth and bones. At Green Pantry, we have specific, complete dog food formulated with mint and parsley to support oral healthWhy not give it a go.
  • Annual Dental Checkups: Regular visits to the vet for dental exams are crucial for catching and addressing any issues early on. The vet may also recommend professional cleaning and scaling if needed.

Dealing with Bad Dog Breath

Let’s acknowledge the elephant (or dog) in the room: bad breath is part of the package. Here’s how to handle it:

  • Causes of Bad Breath: Most often, bad breath in dogs results from the buildup of bacteria in the mouth, which in turn leads to odorous compounds. Less commonly, but an occasional reason nonetheless, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
  • Remedies and Prevention: Regular care—like those dental chews, supplements and brushings we mentioned—can help keep bad breath at bay. If bad breath persists despite good dental care, consult your vet. This is so that you can try to rule out underlying health issues.

When to Consult a Vet

The signs that your dog may have more acute dental issues can be subtle. Look for:

  • Chewing difficulties
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Drooling excessively
  • Loss of appetite

Why Do Dogs Lick You: Understanding the Behaviour and Implications

Drool on your hand, a slobbery kiss on the cheek, or a gentle swipe across your leg—dog licks come in many shapes and sizes and convey different messages each time. But why do our furry companions love licking us as much as they do?

Dogs Licking as Communication

Picture this: you’ve had a hard day, and as soon as you sit down on the couch, your faithful dog sidles up to you and starts giving your hand gentle licks. It’s heartwarming, energising, and sometimes a little confusing. You might wonder what your dog is trying to tell you about this behaviour. As it turns out, licking is a significant component of dog communication.

Exploring the Different Messages Behind Licking Behavior

Dogs use licking to interact with their human and animal friends in various ways. Puppies learn about their world by tasting almost everything they can find, so a dog’s initial inclination to lick might be fueled by curiosity. Additionally, when a dog licks you, it might be saying, “Hello, it’s me!” or simply showing they’re happy to be in your presence.

Smoothie, a member of one of the green pantry teams, is a consummate licker—so much so that she is described as the ‘licking lizard’. In her case, it seems to be a mixture of excitement, endearment, and attention-seeking!

Furthermore, licking is a grooming behaviour that involves high social status and bonding. Your dog or puppy may lick your face or hands because they perceive you as a family or part of their pack. Dogs can sometimes lick their human companions to show submission, indicating they see you as the pack’s leader. And, often (if you have more than one dog), they lick each other. Smoothie (the licking Lizard) and her pal Mouse will spend hours grooming each other. However, we have yet to entirely work out how they communicate when they want to be groomed by one another!

Dog Licking as a Sign of Affection and Bonding

A dog’s love language isn’t dissimilar from our own. Dogs lick to express friendship, affection, and love. When they lick your face, they might share the taste of their favourite person (you!) with the pack. They’re saying, “Hey guys, isn’t our human the absolute best?!” Licking can be deeply ingrained in a dog’s social and emotional behaviour, so think of it as your pet’s saying, “I love you.”

Attention-Seeking Behavior

There are moments when you can’t help but chuckle or feel frustrated when your dog licks excessively, mainly when it seems like they’re bent on a never-ending lick-fest to grab your attention.

Reasons Why Dogs May Lick for Attention

Attention-seeking licking is often linked to learned behaviour. When a dog receives positive reinforcement (or praise) for licking, such as getting petted or receiving treats, it will likely continue the behaviour. For some dogs, licking might be a sign of anxiety or boredom, prompting them to seek comfort or stimulation from you.

Strategies to Manage Excessive Licking

If your dog’s licking is becoming excessive, there are ways to curb this behaviour without crushing its canine spirit. Engage your pet in stimulating activities, offer them toys or tasks, and ensure they are getting enough exercise. If your dog is licking you as a sign of anxiety, consider spending some time practising calming exercises like massages or quiet playtime.

It’s also essential to set clear boundaries. If you don’t mind the occasional kiss but want to avoid getting soaked, redirect your dog’s attention with a command like “sit” or “down.” Offering a treat or a brief game can help reinforce positive behaviours and discourage excessive licking.

Potential Health Risks Associated With Excessive Licking

Excessive licking can lead to hygiene concerns and potential skin irritations for you and your pet. Your dog’s mouth is a veritable bacterial farm, and allowing them to lick you freely can potentially lead to infections or complications, especially if you have compromised skin or a weak immune system.

Moreover, if your dog licks excessively, it could indicate an underlying health issue. Compulsive licking could be a reaction to pain or discomfort or a manifestation of a more complex behavioural disorder.

To keep yourself and your dog healthy, avoid excessive frequent licking on the face and hands, especially if you have delicate skin, are pregnant, or are susceptible to infections due to other health issues.

Common Medical Conditions Related to Excessive Licking

If your dog’s licking behaviour seems unusual, it’s essential to be vigilant and consider consulting a veterinarian. Conditions such as allergies, skin infections, nutritional deficiencies, or even muscle or skeletal pain could cause compulsive or excessive licking as a consequential reaction.

Please track when and where your dog licks excessively and document any environmental changes to help your vet diagnose the issue. Addressing the cause of the behaviour is critical to managing it effectively.

Pearly Whites for a Happy Dog

As a dog owner, your role is essential in maintaining your pet’s dental health. By tackling dental care head-on, you’re not just fighting off bad breath; you’re possibly preventing severe health issues and giving your dog a comfortable life. Remember, a little goes a long way—so start with a gentle brush and a chew toy, and see those tails wag with gratitude.

Shop for reputable dental care products for dogs, and show those dog teeth some love.

Understanding dog-licking behaviour is crucial for a healthy relationship. Respond with care, whether expressing love, seeking attention, or addressing health issues. Communication with your pet is a two-way street.

And always remember, a little love, care, and concern for your pet’s oral health can go a long way to ensure your furry friend has a life full of healthy woofs and wags.

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