Ask any dentist about the importance of oral healthcare and they will tell you it’s intrinsically tied up with general health as well. Well, the same goes for animals. Paying care and attention to your dog’s oral health can go a long way towards extending their lifespan and making sure their life is comfortable.
Bad oral health in dogs often manifests itself in periodontal gum disease first – and this doesn’t always have obvious symptoms. The Australian Veterinary Association actually estimates that four out of five dogs will contract some kind of dental disease by the time they are only three years of age (about 15-25 years old in human years). Many dog owners will assume that bad breath and a disinterest in playing with their toys is something else entirely. It’s actually a symptom of inflamed and irritated gums in your dog’s mouth which if left unchecked can develop into something more serious.
The infection that occurs in the mouth – if left untreated – can spread into the heart, kidneys and other organs in their body. And while this isn’t fatal it is much more difficult to treat – not to mention more expensive. And with dog’s lifespans much shorter than ours in general you don’t want their lives to get any shorter.
So what are the signs that you need to look out for that are obvious indicators that something is amiss, apart from a lack of interest in chewing on their toys and a bad breath? Look out for your dog being unable to hold food in their mouths (or dropping it easily) and stained teeth. If you tend to feed your dog food from the table and ‘human’ food they are much more likely to experience problems here.
As an owner and advocate for your pet who cannot speak for themselves it is up to you to look after their oral health on their behalf. There are various ways that you can look after your pet’s health including watching the types of food they eat (both premium and prescription food) and the chew toys and bones they play with (large bones are best as they’re less likely to break into pieces and get eaten, which can cause broken teeth). For more detailed advice on dental care in your pet, you can always contact the staff at South Eastern Animal Hospital.