Has your dog taken more than four annual trips around the sun? If so, there’s an 85% chance they’ll soon be visited by the tooth (issue) fairy. That’s because the overwhelming majority of pups end up developing periodontal disease at some point in their lifetime.
Problem is, you as a pet parent may remain blissfully unaware until there’s a real problem. That’s because your dog has instincts that tell her not to show weakness. In the wild, displaying any show of injury or illness could inadvertently invite an attack from the pack or fellow predator.
Want to keep your fur baby safe from harmful tooth issues that can drastically impact their health? Here are some early warning signs to watch for.
- Appetite Changes
Dogs love to eat– plain and simple. Anytime you suspect your pup’s appetite is dwindling, take notice. Look to see if your dog is experiencing any difficulty chewing because of a twisted tooth. Or, if they’re simply rejecting food entirely, a compromised canine could be to blame. Time to make a trip to the vet for a full exam.
- Loose, Missing or Discolored Teeth
Just like humans, puppies have a set of baby teeth that will naturally fall out in the four to six month range. However, if you notice two teeth growing inside one socket, or if your adult dog begins losing even one tooth, it’s time to seek professional help. Whether at the hands of blunt trauma to the mouth or due to unforeseen gum loss from advanced periodontal disease, loose, missing or discolored teeth are always signs of trouble.
- Bad Breath
If you’re under the mistaken impression that putting up with bad breath is simply part of being a pet parent, you’re sorely mistaken. In fact, bad breath is one of the first signs your dog may be silently battling periodontal disease. The smell could be coming from a tooth that is slowly dying or a damaged root system that’s progressively rotting away inside the gum line. Best to get things double-checked by a vet at your dog’s annual exam. They can tell you if it’s simply a matter of cleaning off some tartar build up, or if there’s something more sinister at play.
- Bleeding or Inflamed Gums
Keep an eye on your pup’s chew toys and dog treats for valuable warning signs about your dog’s dental health. If you notice blood spots on the toy or inside the mouth, you might be staring down an undiagnosed oral problem. The same goes for red or swollen gums, each of which is an indicator of possible periodontal disease. Often, this comes on as a result of tartar build up that moves deeper inside the gum line, festering into gingivitis. Prolonged, this can quickly develop into a more serious systemic infection that can eventually travel from the mouth into the bloodstream and on to vital organs.
- Pawing or Rubbing the Mouth
Is your dog constantly pawing at her mouth or rubbing her snout on inanimate objects? This is almost certainly a sign of discomfort in the mouth. Contact your vet immediately to identify and correct the issue before it becomes expensive and dire.
Will switching to dry dog food help prevent dog tooth issues?
Regular veterinary exams and at-home brushings are the best way to keep your dog’s teeth and gums in tip top shape. However, most professionals agree that feeding your pup a high quality dry dog food can also keep plaque and tartar under control. Some treats and toys boast health benefits inside the mouth. Just keep an eye out for the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s Seal of Acceptance to ensure any product that makes such claims has been proven effective.
In the end, if you want your dog to be at peak health for as long as possible, start inside the mouth. By understanding what early warning signs to look for, you give your fur baby a fighting chance against painful tooth loss and dangerous gum ailments like periodontal disease.