Your dog is always happy, eats well, plays like always, and wants his nightly cuddles. The doggie kisses you receive have always been a little stinky, but lately the odor has been getting a wee bit worse. Why should you be concerned about his dental health? Because increasingly, bad dog breath can be an indicator of serious dental problems and disease.

Like many dog parents, you probably don’t inspect the inside your dog’s mouth often, if ever. After all, you know that smelly dog breath will jump out at you. Well, you should start checking it out now! If an oral disease is left untreated for too long, it can cause other health issues in your dog that can affect his/her heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain.

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Remain observant of these common dental problems, and others, in dogs and contact your veterinarian with any questions or concerns you may have.

1. Bad Breath, or halitosis, is one of the first telltale signs of dental disease in pets. Bad dog breath is not unusual, but if your dog’s breath has an extremely foul odor that makes you run for the hills, it may be a precursor to more serious oral issues like the following list of common dental problems in dogs.

2. Gingivitis is inflammation, irritation and bleeding of the gums that develops from the build up of bacteria between the teeth and gums. When discovered early on, gingivitis can be reversible. Signs of gingivitis include offensive bad breath, the appearance of red and swollen gums, and gums that bleed easily when touched.

3. Periodontitis occurs as a result of untreated gingivitis, happening when plaque builds up on a dog’s teeth which turns into tarter. It’s a disease of the oral cavity that attacks the gums, bone and delicate tissues surrounding the teeth creating some pain for a dog. Signs of periodontitis include spots of blood left on play toys, a brownish tarter build up on teeth, inflamed and sore looking gums, and dropping food from the mouth even though your dog has an appetite.

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4. Mouth tumors, or oral tumors, in dogs appear as small to large lumps in the gums near teeth or on the inner jawbone area. While some mouth tumors are benign and removed for better comfort, some are malignant and must immediately be surgically removed. A sample is taken for examination to determine if oral tumors are cancerous.

5. Salivary mucocele appears looking like a large fluid filled sac or a large swollen mass under a dog’s neck or inside the mouth cavity. It is a collection of leaked saliva from a damaged salivary gland or salivary duct which has accumulated in the surrounding tissues inflaming the area causing a salivary mucocele.

These dental problems common to dogs can be prevented by properly maintaining a healthy dog mouth. Good oral hygiene is key to keeping a happy dog mouth and to ward off any potential return of an oral disease after it has been treated.

As Jan Bellows DVM, of Hometown Animal Hospital and Dental Clinic in Weston, Florida said on PETMD,”When a client asks me how long their puppy will live, I usually respond 15-17 years if you brush their teeth daily … 11-13 years if you don’t.”

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To maintain your dog’s dental health:

  • Routinely brush your dog’s teeth at home
  • Inspect inside your dog’s mouth, look at gums and teeth for signs of disease
  • Have annual vet visits for dental exams by a veterinary dentist
  • Give good quality dental chews to scrape away tartar
  • Buy toxin-free chew toys to promote strong, clean teeth and gums
  • Buy washable/cleanable toys, as to easily remove germs, dirt, odors
  • Give crunchy watery, teeth cleaning raw fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, celery, cucumbers
  • Feed hard dry food and biscuits to slow the formation of plaque and tartar
  • Feed only dog-safe table scraps and in moderation, or not at all
  • Always provide fresh water daily
  • Clean food and water bowls frequently

Image source: surtr / Flickr

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