Regular oral care is one of the most valuable things you can do for your dog. Learn what to look for in your dog’s mouth to make sure he stays happy and healthy.

Key takeaways

  • Dogs need the same oral care as humans.
  • Neglecting your dog’s teeth can cause painful inflammation and disease.
  • Poor oral hygiene can result in tooth loss, chronic illness, and death.

Good oral hygiene and dental care for your dog are as important as vaccinations and a nutritious diet. Without them, you could be looking at painful inflammation, tooth loss, gingivitis, and other health issues such as diabetes, heart conditions, and even broken jawbones. 

There’s a popular myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, but that isn’t true. Dogs, like humans, have a plethora of bacteria in their mouths – some good and some bad. Also, just like humans, a dog’s mouth and teeth must be cleaned and regularly maintained to stay in tip-top shape.

Many dog parents mistakenly believe an oral hygiene regimen for their pet will be time-consuming and expensive. Brushing a dog’s teeth, using cleansing wipes, and giving them dental chews are all efficient ways to keep a dog’s mouth clean, but there are a lot of issues that aren’t easy to see. That’s why professional wellness checks are so crucial.

What can happen without proper oral care for your dog

Canine gum disease

Also called periodontal disease, canine gum disease affects the gums, jawbones, and soft tissue around the teeth. It is a progressive, inflammatory condition that results in tooth loss, gum inflammations, bad breath, and infection. It can also cause issues elsewhere in the body if the infection travels. 

Gum disease is the most common disease in dogs and small animals. Nearly 90% of dogs develop it before two years of age. It is typically caused by poor oral health, but other causes include:

A compromised immune system

  • Canine distemper
  • Chemical agents
  • Chronic kidney failure
  • Eating harmful plants
  • Infection
  • Leptospirosis
  • Metabolic disease 
  • Trauma

Loss of appetite and bloody drool are common signs of canine gum disease. The pain can cause some dogs to paw at their mouths and fight you when you try to do an oral inspection. Treatment requires a professional cleaning and possible tooth extractions. 

Canine stomatitis

Canine stomatitis is inflammation of the mucous membranes, tongue, gums, roof of the mouth, and inner lips. The symptoms can be challenging to spot in the early stages. This infection usually accompanies other issues and isn’t often a primary medical condition. Any breed can contract it, but Greyhounds, Labradors, Alaskan Malamutes, and German Shepherds are particularly susceptible.

When a dog’s teeth and gums become infectious and inflamed, there is sometimes an allergic reaction in the form of stomatitis. Other causes include:

  • Allergic response (usually to biofilm or plaque on the teeth, or even the teeth themselves)
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infections
  • Contact with acidic substances
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal deficiencies
  • Hypereosinophilic syndrome
  • Lymphoma
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Reaction to certain medications
  • Renal (kidney) disease

Typical signs of canine stomatitis include loss of appetite, poor coat, bloody drool, and visible plaque on the teeth. If stomatitis is the result of a primary condition, it usually goes away with the main issue. More severe cases require antibiotics and possible tooth extractions.

Pathologic jaw fracture

If gum disease progresses, white blood cells flood the infected area to clear excess bacteria. The result is an inflammatory process that further erodes the supporting tissues in the mouth by weakening the structural integrity of the jawbone and tooth sockets, making it easier to sustain jaw fractures. 

Kidney and liver disease

An infection in the mouth gives bacteria direct access into the bloodstream, where it travels and sets into other organs, such as the kidneys and liver. This is a well-documented result of poor canine oral hygiene. Signs of kidney and liver disease can include vomiting, bloated abdomen, and diarrhea. These severe diseases typically require medication and can be fatal. Dialysis may be necessary for kidney treatments. 

Heart disease

Chronic inflammation caused by gum disease increases a dog’s risk for heart disease. Valvular disease is the most common type in canines. It typically affects small breeds over five years old but can affect any breed or age dog. Symptoms of heart disease in dogs usually includes:

  • Bloating
  • Coughing
  • Fainting
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid breathing

Heart disease can be fatal if not treated in time. An easy way to protect against it is to provide your dog with top-notch oral healthcare. 

Loss of appetite and weight

Your dog may not eat very much, despite how hungry he may be, if his mouth hurts. The result will be a loss of appetite and weight. 

A dog’s teeth are a window into its overall health. Regular oral care checkups by a professional ensure possible problems are caught before they become huge issues. A dirty mouth and teeth don’t just cause bad breath. It can cause severe and even fatal health concerns! 

Let us help you keep your dog healthy

Regular routine care and teeth cleaning keep your furry friend in the best of health. Scenthound is the first wellness-focused, membership-based dog grooming company that is disrupting an outdated industry with a unique approach and a blue ocean strategy. We offer convenient, affordable solutions through our wellness memberships to help pet parents keep their fur family clean and healthy. 

Unlike traditional dog grooming that focuses on breed-specific styling, Scenthound services are centered around routine and preventive care for dogs in five core areas: Skin, Coat, Ears, Nails, and Teeth (SCENT). Contact your local Scenthound for help giving your pet the best life possible