How Your Dog's Dental Health Affects His Overall Wellness
Does your dog have healthy teeth and gums? If you haven't given much thought to your pet's oral health, you might want to talk to your veterinarian about scheduling a dental wellness exam. Your veterinarian should examine your dog's teeth and gums at least once a year to identify hard-to-spot problems you might not notice.
Here's how canine dental issues affect your dog's whole body wellness.
Have you ever had a bad toothache? The discomfort associated with sensitive or abscessed teeth isn't something we'd wish on our worst enemies, let alone our beloved pets. We know that dogs feel pain, but it's up to us humans to learn the signs of a pet in distress.
Often, by the time a dog's dental issues cross our pet's pain threshold, they are at risk of secondary infections. Sometimes, pain is associated with a sudden issue such as a broken tooth or an object lodged between your dog's molars. Many pain and discomfort symptoms are, themselves, detrimental to your dog's overall health.
Dogs that are in pain may display unwanted behavioral issues, from destructive chewing to defensive snapping. They may bark or whine more often than usual, or constantly groom themselves.
If you experience a sudden or severe change in your dog's behavior or personality, call your veterinarian to schedule a wellness check. Pain triggers behaviors we might not associate with injury or infection, and if the source of the behavior isn't identified, many pet owners mistakenly try to solve the issue with training or, in extreme cases, rehoming or euthanasia.
If your dog has a problem with her dental health, she might not eat or drink as much as she needs to remain healthy. Any time you notice a change in your pet's dietary habits or a drastic drop in her weight, consult your veterinarian.
When your dog is fighting an infection, he is using up a lot of nutritional resources that would otherwise go to keep his skin, coat and energy levels in peak condition.
Dental disease shortens your dog's life by damaging his internal organs. When your dog has an infection in his mouth, which is already a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, toxins secreted from bacterial infections enter the bloodstream.
Kidney and liver disease is common among dogs with poor dental health, as these organs, which filter toxins from the blood, receive the most damage. Your dog can suffer fatal kidney, liver and heart failure as a result of these toxins, which also affect the brain's cognitive abilities.
Nobody enjoys cuddling a dog with bad breath. No matter what references we make to "dog breath," your pet's scent shouldn't make you recoil. When your dog has healthy teeth and gums, and his breath isn't repellent, you and your family are likely to spend more time with him...and we believe that the more time we spend in the company of our pets, the healthier and happier everyone is.
"If your #dog has bad breath, take her to your #vet for a dental and wellness exam." TWEET THIS
How to prevent dental disease in your pet
As awareness spreads about the importance of pet dental hygiene, more and more products are marketed toward concerned pet owners, from dog snacks to chew toys to canine toothbrushes and toothpaste.
The best way to keep your pet's mouth healthy is with daily brushing, routine in-office teeth cleaning, healthy chew toys and annual wellness checks with your veterinarian. We can help you select effective products for maintaining your pet's dental health at home, and help you avoid products that create a false (and often expensive) sense of security in your pet care regimen.
Contact us at South Boston Animal Hospital today to learn about our dental care services, or to schedule a wellness appointment.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.