Like humans, dogs can suffer from tooth decay as well, and although it is less likely that they will get cavities in comparison to humans, there can be a buildup of tartar in the gum line which can cause them to recede. The result of this is various periodontal infections that can lead to the occurrence of abscesses (pockets of pus under the gums). This condition is painful for the dog, and it can lead to quite serious illnesses if untreated.
Since unlike humans, dogs do not brush their teeth, taking extra precautions to keep their dental hygiene and health is of the essence. The bacteria that can accumulate in the mouth of your dog is the same kind that can affect its lungs, heart, and kidneys, therefore it should be taken seriously.
Bad breath. Bad breath can be the first sign of a possible tooth decay in your dog. The bacteria that collects around your dog’s gums is the result of decaying food, and it can cause infection and gingivitis in his mouth, which results in a very bad breath. If you detect a sour, pungent odor coming from your dog’s mouth, that can be a sign of a disease inside the mouth or other internal organs of your pet.
Inflamed gums. Another symptom is the inflamed gums, also known as gingivitis. This disease causes the gums to become inflamed, red, and sometimes even to bleed. This happens because the bacteria collect in your dog’s mouth as a result of leftover food in his teeth. The bacteria usually build up under the gum line and teeth roots and causes an infection that can lead to bone degeneration, tooth rotting and loss, and in more serious cases, it can lead to disease of major organs.
Calculus and plaque. Since dental plaque is made of the leftover food particles and saliva that mix and make a sticky film that covers your dog’s teeth, it is no wonder that it can be a sign of something more serious when it reaches a certain point. If the plaque is not removed from the teeth, it will harden over time and become a thick, bone-like formation known as tartar, or calculus. Calculus can cover the whole tooth and cover the infection going on underneath.
Swollen jaw. When the infection collects around the root of the tooth it can create an abscess, which is the swelling of the jaw that can be visible to the naked eye. You will notice a lump on the lower jaw close to the neck, or on the upper jaw under the eye socket of your dog. If the abscess grows big enough, it can burst and break through the skin and you can see the pus oozing onto the fur of your dog through a small hole in the formed lump.
Problems with chewing. If you notice that your dog has issues when chewing the food, or that it stops chewing it altogether, it can be a sign of tooth decay. You may even notice loose and missing teeth, and even the rotting and the infection of the teeth and gums. When your dog has rotting teeth, it can feel a lot of pain, and when its teeth become loose it can even have a lot of trouble eating and chewing its food on a daily basis.
Sneezing and nasal discharge. If your puppy’s teeth are infected in his upper jaw, the abscesses can form in the roots of his teeth and create the pockets of pus. This infection can travel up to your dog’s sinuses which lead to a runny nose and excess sneezing.
Treatment at the Vet
Once you’ve established that your pet has tooth decay issues, visit a vet and schedule dental cleaning session. The vet will determine the stage of tooth problem and he or she can schedule a blood screen test to see if there are any signs of problems with the other organs of your pet.
Dental cleaning is done under general anesthesia, especially if the dog is older or has other health issues. The vet will perform an X-ray to discover any possible abscesses or pockets of pus in the roots of your dog’s teeth. This will also determine if there are signs of bone deterioration in your dog’s jaws.
Using a water pick, the vet will scrape any plaque and calculus off your dog’s teeth, and scrape the space underneath the gum line. If needed, some of your dog’s teeth can be pulled if they are so rotten and broken, and no longer useful for the dog. The vet can also inject certain antibiotics into the gum cavity to prevent the spread of the infection.
There is a new dental vaccine known as the porphyry monas vaccine, which is used to kill off certain types of bacteria that cause the dental diseases in dogs. These strains of bacteria can cause kidney, heart, and lung diseases in dogs, and also affect the bone loss in the jaws of canines. This vaccine is administered every six to twelve months after a veterinary cleaning.
Home and Natural Remedies
There is a number of things you can do to help your dog with the dental issues.
Brushing its teeth regularly should be number one on your list. Not only will regular brushing help prevent the possible tooth decay, it will also help with the bad breath. You can purchase toothpaste and toothbrushes designed specifically for dogs at any pet store and use them daily using downward strokes. You can do this only on the outer part of your dog’s teeth, as the inside of its mouth will be naturally cleaned by your dog’s saliva and tongue. Never use toothpaste made for humans on your dog, as they contain harmful chemicals that can mess up your dog’s digestive tract.
Chew toys and treats can also be bought at pet stores, and they are made to help clean your dog’s teeth while he chews on them. These dental treats and toys are perfect, as dogs love to chew on things, so this habit becomes a perfect opportunity of preventing the possible tooth problems.
Hard food and kibble can also be quite beneficial, as the dog will scrape his teeth clean as he chews on harder food. Find kibble that will satisfy your dog’s nutrient needs and you should be set.
Herbs. Echinacea can be used directly on the gums of your dog and applied with a cotton swab to help with the irritated gums. Oregon grape tincture will inhibit the growth of bacteria. It can be applied with a cotton swab and it is a great antiseptic and promotes gum tissue growth. Other good choices are Myrrh and Goldenseal as well. Calendula is great for bleeding gums, and it can be applied directly to the gums as well. Fennel can freshen your puppy’s breath, and it is packed with vitamin C. Parsley and dill have antimicrobial properties, and can help fight the infections and bad breath.
Supplements. Coenzyme Q10 can help with swollen, red, and bleeding gums. Grapefruit seed extract is a great natural antiseptic that can kill microbes and can be used externally and internally. For gum cleaning, dilute two to four drops of it in about five ounces of water and apply with a Q-tip to the gums and teeth of your dog. Bee propolis has antimicrobial properties and is great for infected gums and ulcers.
Healthy diet. Feed your dog a healthy diet and avoid sugary snacks and foods that are rich in starch. Mix in fresh vegetables, for example, leafy greens and broccoli in your dog’s food, and also give him hard raw veggies such as carrots as treats. Raw bones are rich in calcium and have enzymes that promote the healthy bacterial flora in the mouth of your dog. Never give cooked bones to your dog, and rather opt for knuckle bones and organic marrow bones.
Foods rich in calcium should be included in your dog’s diet as well, so try feeding him more swiss cheese, carob powder, kelp, collard greens, and dark leafy greens. Foods rich in phosphorus should also be eaten regularly, and those include squash and pumpkin seeds, nuts, sunflower seeds, cheddar cheese, wheat bran and wheat germ.
Another interesting addition to your dog’s diet can be cranberries which help stop the bacteria from sticking to your dog’s teeth. Cranberry juice is also a great option when it comes to the prevention of cavities.