The Most Common Dog Health Issue – Are You Doing Your Part?

By Dr. Karen Becker

 

Dental disease remains the most common medical problem in dogs today, with the majority suffering some form of periodontal (gum) disease by the age of 3. The reason for this is most family dogs don’t eat the kind of food that helps keep their teeth clean.

In addition, most dogs don’t receive regular home and/or professional dental care, and they don’t show signs of discomfort or pain until there’s a significant problem in their mouth.

Unfortunately, the risk of painful mouth conditions — in particular, gum disease, tooth resorption and oral cancer — is dramatically increased for older dogs. This means that for your senior or geriatric pet, proper dental care is especially important.

Oral Disease Can Set the Stage for Heart Disease

When plaque isn’t removed from your dog’s teeth, it collects there and around the gum line and within a few days hardens into tartar. Tartar sticks to the teeth and ultimately irritates the gums. Irritated gums become inflamed — a condition known as gingivitis.

If your dog has gingivitis, the gums will be red rather than pink and his breath may be noticeably smelly. If the tartar isn’t removed, it will build up under the gums, eventually causing them to pull away from the teeth. This creates small pockets in the gum tissue that become repositories for additional bacteria.

At this stage, your pet has developed an irreversible condition, periodontal disease, which causes considerable pain and can result in abscesses, infections, loose teeth and bone loss.

When periodontal disease is present, the surface of the gums is weakened. The breakdown of gum tissue allows mouth bacteria to invade your pet’s bloodstream and travel throughout his body. If his immune system doesn’t kill off the bacteria, it can reach the heart and infect it.

Studies have shown that oral bacteria, once in the bloodstream, seem able to fight off attacks by the immune system. What many pet parents don’t realize is there’s an established link between gum disease and endocarditis, which is an inflammatory condition of the valves or inner lining of the heart.

Researchers also suspect certain strains of oral bacteria may lead to heart problems. Some types of bacteria found in the mouths of dogs produce sticky proteins that can adhere to artery walls, causing them to thicken. Mouth bacteria are also known to promote the formation of blood clots that can damage the heart.

How quickly these events take place depends on a number of factors, including your dog’s age, breed, genetics, diet, overall health, and the frequency and quality of dental care he receives. It’s also important to realize that some pets will require regular professional cleanings even when their owners are doing everything right in terms of home care.

Why Dental Procedures to Treat Moderate to Severe Oral Disease Require Anesthesia

Veterinary dental cleanings for dogs with moderate to severe oral disease require general anesthesia, because a truly thorough oral exam and cleaning (and extractions, if needed) can’t be accomplished on a pet who is awake. It’s dangerous to use sharp instruments in the mouth of a conscious animal, and needless to say, the procedure is very stressful for the pet with significant oral disease.

Prior to the oral exam and cleaning, your pet will undergo a physical exam and blood tests to ensure she can be safely anesthetized for the procedure. The day of the cleaning, she’ll be sedated, and a tube will be placed to maintain a clear airway and so that oxygen and anesthetic gas can be given.

An intravenous (IV) catheter should also be placed so that fluids and anesthesia can be administered as appropriate throughout the procedure and your pet should be monitored by sophisticated anesthetic monitoring equipment. Make sure your veterinarian does both these things.

If you’re wondering why pets require general anesthesia and intubation for a seemingly simple procedure, there are a number of benefits:

·         Anesthesia immobilizes your dog to ensure her safety and cooperation during a confusing, stressful procedure

·         It provides for effective pain management during the procedure

·         It allows for a careful and complete examination of all surfaces inside the oral cavity, as well as the taking of digital x-rays, which are necessary to address issues that are brewing below the surface of the gums that can’t been seen and could cause problems down the road

·         It permits your veterinarian to probe and scale as deeply as necessary below the gum line where 60% or more of plaque and tartar accumulate

·         Intubation while the patient is under general anesthesia protects the trachea and prevents aspiration of water and oral debris

What Actually Happens During Your Dog’s Dental Cleaning

While your pet is anesthetized, her teeth will be cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler as well as a hand scaler to clean under and around every tooth. Your veterinarian will use dental probes to measure the depths of the pockets in the gum around each tooth, and x-rays should be taken.

Most vets use digital technology now, so you don’t have to panic about overwhelming radiation exposure from dental x-rays. Digital x-rays are important because they identify issues we can’t see externally.

I’ve had patients require a second anesthesia and dental procedure within several months of the first, because x-rays were refused, and a retained baby tooth or festering tooth root infection wasn’t caught on the first go-round. The only way to know what’s happening below the crown of the tooth is to check by taking a digital x-ray.

Once all the plaque and tartar are off the teeth, your dog’s mouth will be rinsed, and each tooth will be polished. The reason for polishing is to smooth any tiny grooves on the teeth left by the cleaning so they don’t attract more plaque and tartar. After polishing, the mouth is rinsed again.

Average Costs for Canine Dental Procedures

The cost of veterinary dental procedures is influenced by a number of factors, including where you live, and the degree of disease involved. Some veterinary practices bill for dental work according to the type of procedure performed, while others price their services based on the time it takes to complete a procedure.

An oral exam, x-rays and cleaning with no tooth extractions usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Average costs range from around $300 to $1,000, plus x-rays at $150 to $200. Veterinary dental specialists often charge more.

It’s important if you comparison-shop to ensure quotes on the low end don’t involve skimping on important items that help ensure your dog’s safety, such as pre-op screening, IV fluids, x-rays, and certified veterinary technicians. Ask for itemized quotes.

Extractions are typically priced according to the type of tooth and the time and work needed to remove it. There are simple extractions that can run as little as $10 to $15, elevated extractions that can average $25 to $35, and extractions of teeth with multiple roots, which tend to be the priciest — up to $100 in some cases.

Root canals are commonly priced by the root. A root canal on a tooth with three roots can range from $1,000 to $3,000, hence most owners opting for extraction.

Tips to Help Keep Your Dog’s Mouth Healthy

·         Feed a nutritionally balanced, species-specific, fresh food diet, and feed it raw if possible. When your dog gnaws on raw meat, it acts as a kind of natural toothbrush and dental floss.

·         Offer recreational bones and/or a fully digestible, high quality dental dog chew to help control plaque and tartar. The effect of dental chews is similar to raw bones, but safer for power chewers or dogs who have restorative dental work and can’t chew raw bones.

·         Brush your pet’s teeth, preferably every day. If every day is too tall an order, commit to do it several times a week. A little time spent each day brushing your dog’s teeth can be tremendously beneficial in maintaining her oral health and overall well-being.

·         Perform routine mouth inspections. Your dog should allow you to open his mouth, look inside, and feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps or bumps on the tongue, under the tongue, along the gum line and on the roof of the mouth. After you do this a few times, you’ll become aware of any changes that occur from one inspection to the next. You should also make note of any differences in the smell of your pet’s breath that aren’t diet-related.

·         Arrange for regular oral exams performed by your veterinarian. He or she will alert you to any existing or potential problems in your pet’s mouth, and recommend professional teeth cleaning under anesthesia, if necessary.

Daily homecare and as-needed professional cleanings by your veterinarian or dental professional are the best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy and disease-free. They’re also important for dogs with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure.

Dog’s Teeth

By Deidre Grieves

According to a veterinary study, dental disease is one of the most common disorders reported by veterinarians. Another study estimates that 80 percent of dogs will develop some form of periodontal disease by the age of 2.

 

Regular dog dental care is recommended by veterinarians, but few pet owners actually brush their dogs’ teeth. According to a study conducted by Ipsos, just 7 percent of dog owners polled reported brushing their dog’s teeth daily.

 

“Just as with people a hundred years ago, we used to think that tooth loss was a normal aging change,” says Dr. Milinda Lommer, a board-certified veterinary dentist who practices at Aggie Animal Dental Center in Mill Valley, California. “Now we know that tooth loss is the direct result of a disease process and it is not normal.”

 

To better understand how to care for dog teeth, it’s important to understand the makeup of dog teeth and how to best ensure dog tooth health. Here are some facts you probably didn’t know about dog teeth.

 

Facts About Dog Teeth

 

  1. Dogs Go Through Two Sets of Teeth in Their Lifetime

 

Just like people have baby teeth, dogs have puppy teeth that are later replaced, says Dr. Donald Beebe, a board-certified specialist in veterinary dentistry and the hospital director at Apex Dog and Cat Dentistry in Englewood, Colorado.

 

“Puppy teeth—also known as deciduous teeth or milk teeth—work much like an adult dog’s teeth but on a smaller scale,” he says. “Starting around 4 months of age and extending to around 6 months of age, the deciduous teeth begin to exfoliate. Compared to human children, in which the process takes place over years, in puppies, the transition is very rapid, over a matter of weeks.”

 

Dr. Beebe says that puppies lose their teeth in a way similar to human children—they become loose and eventually fall out. The root of the tooth is then naturally absorbed into the gums, he says.

 

  1. Adult Dogs Have More Teeth Than Humans

 

Dr. Beebe explains that puppies have only about 28 deciduous dog teeth that they shed to make way for permanent adult dog teeth.

 

“Adult dogs have 42 teeth. Most people have 32,” he says. “In comparison, adult cats have 30 teeth.”

 

Dr. Beebe says that adult dog teeth begin to form before birth. “Later in life, they erupt into position as their deciduous counterparts are shed,” he says.

 

  1. Dogs Use Their Teeth Differently Than Humans

 

While the makeup and chemical structure of dog teeth is similar to those of human teeth, the size and shape of dog teeth are where the biggest differences come into play.

 

“The most prominent teeth are the long and pointy canines,” Dr. Beebe says. “They are used for grasping, lifting, pulling and potentially for defense. Further back in the mouth, the large carnassial teeth are designed to shear against one another, to provide a slicing action.”

 

“This is in contrast to human teeth, which typically grind against one another to pulverize food. Dogs can’t really smash up their food like people because their teeth are not designed that way,” explains Dr. Beebe.

 

  1. Canine Teeth Root Structure Differs a Bit From Humans

 

“Canine root structures are similar to human root structures except that in dogs, the three upper molars have two roots, whereas the two lower molars have three roots,” says Dr. Lisa Lippman, a veterinarian based in New York City.

 

Additionally, the roots of a dog’s tooth are long, adds Dr. Lommer. “Most people are surprised by how long the roots are,” she says. “The visible crown is usually only about one-third the length of the tooth. For incisor teeth, the crowns are only about one-fourth the length of the tooth.”

 

  1. Cavities in Dog Teeth Are Extremely Rare

 

Because the bacteria in a dog’s mouth are different from the bacteria in a human’s mouth, cavities in dogs don’t happen often.

 

“Cavities are caused by specific bacteria that live on flat surfaces of teeth and metabolize sugars into acid,” says Dr. Lommer. “Dogs don’t usually consume as much sugar as humans do, and the species of bacteria that causes cavities are very rare in dogs’ mouths.”

 

Dr. Beebe explains that when cavities occur in dogs, they are usually caused by sweet treats such as bananas or sweet potatoes. “The treatment for cavities in dogs is the same as for people,” he says. “The diseased tooth structure is removed and replaced with a composite filling.”

 

Dog Teeth: Signs of Dental Disease

 

Pet parents should watch for signs of periodontal disease in dogs. If you notice any signs of dental or gum disease, you should consult your veterinarian for care tips.

 

“Most dog owners don’t recognize that their dogs have a problem until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage,” says Dr. Beebe. “Further, dogs instinctively try to hide any pain or discomfort to avoid showing weakness, making it even harder to recognize a problem is present.”

 

Signs of periodontal disease in dogs, according to Dr. Beebe and Dr. Lippman, include:

 

  • Red gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Plaque
  • Bad breath
  • Blood in water or food bowls
  • Thick saliva
  • Favoring one side of the mouth
  • Dropping food while eating
  • Facial swelling
  • Rubbing the face with the paws or on the floor

 

Dog Teeth: Tips for Care

 

“Brushing your dog’s teeth is the first defense against gum disease,” says Dr. Lippman. “Daily cleanings, coupled with occasional professional cleanings at your vet, will do a lot to keep gum disease at bay.”

 

For brushing dog teeth at home, pet parents can try the Vetoquinol Vet Solutions enzadent enzymatic toothbrush kit for adult dogs or the Nylabone advanced oral care dental kit for puppies. These dog dental kits come with a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste specially designed to care for canine teeth.

 

To keep plaque at bay, easy-to-use dog dental wipes, like Petkin fresh mint dog plaque tooth wipes, may assist in getting rid of daily residue. You can also help freshen your dog’s breath with a water additive, like the TropiClean fresh breath water additive, which is formulated to prevent tartar buildup and promote overall oral health.

 

And, if you want to keep your pet’s teeth healthy between brushings and veterinary dental cleanings, try using dog dental chews or treats, such as Greenies dental dog treats or Dr. Lyon’s dental dog treats. These dog dental treats help to fight plaque and tartar buildup as well as work to freshen your dog’s breath.

 

Another great option is VetriScience Perio Support powder, which is a natural enzymatic cleaner for dogs and is simply added to their food daily.

 

Dog’s bad breath—Don’t think you can fix it by using your toothpaste!!!!

Dog’s bad breath—Don’t think you can fix it by using your toothpaste!!!!

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

In the U.K., the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is warning pet parents not to use human toothpaste when they brush their dog’s teeth. The alert was issued “… after research suggested it was being seen as a solution to bad breath,” according to The Telegraph.1

The RSPCA cautioned that the presence of fluoride in many human toothpaste brands, along with the growing use of the artificial sweetener xylitol, could be toxic to dogs if ingested. It’s important to realize that unlike humans, dogs don’t spit out toothpaste, so every bit of it gets swallowed or absorbed through the tissues in the mouth.

In addition to fluoride and xylitol, most human toothpaste contains a long list of chemicals and other substances your dog (and you) may be better off avoiding. My recommendation is to use an all-natural enzymatic dental gel designed specifically for pets.

Survey Says: Lots of Dogs Have Halitosis, and Lots of Dog Parents Are Clueless

According to the Kennel Club, dental disease is the second most commonly diagnosed health issue for dogs in the U.K. In the U.S., it’s the number one medical problem — 80 percent of dogs have some degree of gum disease by the age of 3.

The RSPCA’s warning followed a survey of 2,000 pet parents that showed nearly 8 percent had tried to get rid of their dog’s bad breath with human toothpaste. Some people fed their dogs mints to freshen their breath, others offered sticks of gum and some thought a good grooming would solve the problem. There were even pet parents who vowed to keep their toilet lid down, fearing the time-honored canine tradition of drinking from the bowl was causing their dog’s stinky breath.

“While we applaud owners who take responsibility for caring for their dogs teeth, we would also stress that only toothpaste formulated for dogs should ever be used,” a Kennel Club spokeswoman told the Telegraph.

This is worth repeating. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep those teeth and gums in good condition. Daily brushing is ideal, but if that’s not workable, set a goal of four to five times a week.

Bad Breath Resulting From Gum Disease Isn’t ‘Normal’ for Dogs — It’s a Serious Problem

More than half the U.K. pet parents surveyed believed bad doggy breath was normal and not a symptom of poor dental health; only a fifth worried about bad breath being a sign of a serious health problem. When plaque isn’t removed from your dog’s teeth, it collects there and around the gum line and within a few days hardens into tartar. Tartar sticks to the teeth and ultimately irritates the gums. Irritated gums become inflamed — a condition known as gingivitis.

If your dog develops gingivitis, the gums will be red rather than pink and his breath will probably be noticeably foul-smelling. If the tartar isn’t removed, it will build up under the gums, eventually causing them to pull away from the teeth. This creates small pockets in the gum tissue that become repositories for additional bacteria.

At this stage, your dog has developed an irreversible condition, periodontal disease, which causes considerable pain and can result in abscesses, infections, loose teeth and bone loss.

When periodontal disease is present, the surface of the gums is weakened. The breakdown of gum tissue allows mouth bacteria to invade the bloodstream and travel throughout your dog’s body. If his immune system doesn’t kill off the bacteria, it can reach the heart and infect it.

Studies have shown that oral bacteria, once launched into the bloodstream, are able to fight off attacks by the immune system. What many pet parents don’t realize is there’s an established link between gum disease and endocarditis, which is an inflammatory condition of the valves or inner lining of the heart.

Researchers also suspect certain strains of oral bacteria may lead to heart problems. Some types of bacteria found in the mouths of pets produce sticky proteins that can adhere to artery walls, causing them to thicken. Mouth bacteria are also known to promote the formation of blood clots that can damage the heart.

How quickly these events take place depends on a number of factors, including your pet’s age, breed, genetics, diet, overall health, and the frequency and quality of dental care he receives. It’s also important to realize that some dogs will require regular professional cleanings even when their owners are doing everything right in terms of home care.

Signs of Possible Dental Disease in Your Pet

If you notice any of the following signs in your dog, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian to prevent a dental problem from negatively impacting her health and quality of life:

Redness of the gums Tenderness around the mouth and/or teeth
Bad breath Drooling or dropping food
Loose teeth Bleeding from the mouth
Discolored teeth Loss of appetite/poor appetite
Broken teeth Weight loss

5 Steps to Help Keep Your Dog’s Mouth Healthy

  1. Feed a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate, fresh food diet, and feed it raw if possible. When your dog gnaws on raw meat, it acts as a natural toothbrush and dental floss.
  2. Offer recreational bones and/or a fully digestible, high-quality dental dog chew to help control plaque and tartar. The effect of dental chews is similar to raw bones, but safer for power chewers or dogs who have restorative dental work and can’t chew raw bones.
  3. Brush those teeth, preferably every day. If every day is too tall an order, commit to do it several times a week. A little time spent each day brushing your dog’s teeth can be tremendously beneficial in maintaining her oral health and overall well-being.
  4. Perform routine mouth inspections. Your dog should allow you to open his mouth, look inside and feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps or bumps on the tongue, under the tongue, along the gum line and on the roof of the mouth. After you do this a few times, you’ll become aware of any changes that occur from one inspection to the next. You should also make note of any differences in the smell of your dog’s breath that aren’t diet-related.
  5. Arrange for regular oral exams performed by your veterinarian. He or she will alert you to any existing or potential problems in your dog’s mouth, and recommend professional teeth cleaning under anesthesia, if necessary.

Daily homecare and as-needed professional cleanings or nonprofessional dental scaling (NPDS) by your veterinarian or dental professional are the best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy and disease-free. It’s important to note that while NPDS can be a great way to prevent dental disease from occurring, it’s not a good substitute in cases of moderate to severe dental disease.

Diane has had great results using a product call PlaqueOff. This product can be used by dogs and cats alike and you sprinkle the granules on your pet’s food based on their weight.  Here is how this product can help:

Helps control plaque and tartar
-Improves bad breath
-A natural seaweed supplement
-Add it to your pet’s daily food

ProDen Plaqueoff is ingested via a powder placed over your pet’s daily food. The natural compound in the product comes out through the saliva and works to break down the bacterial biofilm that forms on the teeth and gums. This is how the natural bacteria in the mouth take hold onto the teeth and gums, colonizing and creating the oral problems of plaque and tartar, bad breathe and gingivitis. It does not change the ph of the mouth or kill off the normal levels of bacteria. ProDen Plaqueoff has been proven to reduce plaque and tartar on the teeth and gums, depending on composition, diet and how long it has been there. It then works to prevent bad breath, plaque and tartar from returning.

Small Dogs & Cats < 25 lbs  /    1/2 – 1 scoop

Medium Dogs 25 – 50 lbs      /    1 – 2 scoops

Large & Giant Dogs 50 lbs + /   2 – 3 scoops

 

Please note *Not recommended for animals undergoing treatment for hyperthyroidism. Keep away from children and animals

Diane has used this product for over 7 years with her husky and he has fabulous teeth!  I recommend it to many of my clients with great results.  If your dog has really bad teeth I would suggest you get a professional cleaning then begin using this product on a daily basis.