Mouth Problems In Dogs
Dogs can have some of the same problems with their mouths that humans can. Ideally, you brush your dog’s teeth every day with special doggy toothpaste (don’t use human toothpaste, it is bad for dogs). However, even with routine care, some dogs just have more mouth problems than others. Smaller dogs have more trouble than big dogs. It is important to take care of your dog’s mouth because mouth problems can cause pain, infections, organ failures, and even death. Here are some common mouth problems in dogs and ways you can prevent them in your dog.
- One of the most common problems veterinarians see is foreign objects embedded in the roof of the dog’s mouth. Sticks, pieces of raw hide, or mulch can stick into the flesh of the mouth. These cause pain and excessive drooling, but may not stop the dog from eating and drinking. If left too long, these objects can cause infection. Get in the habit of checking inside your dog’s mouth every day to make sure all is well. A quick look in the morning with a flashlight can confirm that nothing is amiss.
- Dogs don’t have hands, so they explore the world with their mouths. This can cause a problem when they stick their mouths where they don’t belong. Insect stings, snake bites, porcupine quills, and other things can cause your dog a problem. Insect stings can usually be treated by a veterinarian proscribed dose of antihistamine, but snake bites and porcupine quills require veterinary treatment. Other oral injuries, such as broken or infected teeth, may be caused by fights or by the dog chewing on something that is too hard for him. Your veterinarian will have to treat these oral injuries, too.
- Dogs can get warts on their lips, gums, and tongue. This are caused by the canine oral papillomavirus. Most of the time, puppies get these warts because they have not been exposed to the virus before. The warts eventually fall off and the dog doesn’t get the virus again. Sometimes, however, the warts bleed or cause other problems so have to be removed. Dogs are contagious while they have the warts, so don’t let them lick other dogs during this time.
- Dogs can get gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. This is caused when food particles and bacteria get packed in right above the gum line. This is called plaque. When mixed with saliva and minerals, this plaque hardens into tartar. It irritates the gums and they become inflamed. Eventually, this leads to periodontal disease. To prevent this, brush your dog’s teeth every day with doggy toothpaste and a soft doggy toothbrush. Don’t use human toothpaste because it is not designed to be swallowed and can make your dog sick. Human toothbrushes are too hard, too, and so should not be used.
- Untreated gingivitis leads to periodontal disease. That is when the gingivitis gets under the gum line and pushes the gums away from the teeth. It continues to work its way down the tooth and bacteria gets under the teeth. This can cause bone loss, tissue destruction and abscesses under the teeth. A dog with periodontal disease can display bad breath, drooling, inflamed and/or bleeding gums, and tooth loss. They may also not eat well because it hurts. In the early stages, periodontal disease is reversible, but in the later stages, it becomes permanent and damage to the liver, kidney and heart. Small dogs are more vulnerable to periodontal disease because their teeth are so crowded in their mouths.
Most mouth problems can be prevented with vigilance and regular brushing. Your veterinarian can show you how to brush your dog’s teeth properly and supply the doggy toothpaste and toothbrush you will need to do so.