Can dogs get tooth decay? Yes, but much less often than humans. Read here how to recognize tooth decay in dogs and which therapy makes sense.
Causes of Tooth Decay in Dogs
Like us humans, tooth decay is a disease in dogs that attacks the tooth. More specifically, tooth decay thins enamel and dentin. This is caused by bacteria, which mostly come from plaque in the form of deposits on the teeth. Dogs are much less likely to have tooth decay than humans. This is due to their diet and the dog’s anatomy: The interdental spaces are larger in dogs, so tooth decay is less likely to develop.
Symptoms: Recognizing Tooth Decay in the Dog
If you want to recognize tooth decay in dogs, you have to look deep into the mouth. Because when tooth decay occurs, it usually affects the back molars. These are less pointed and offer bacteria with the larger chewing surface “better” conditions for docking. If you notice any discoloration on your dog’s molars, you should speak to your veterinarian about it. If the suspicion is confirmed, the diagnosis of caries can be made. Often an anesthetic is necessary beforehand in order to examine the potentially carious areas with a probe. X-rays can also help to confirm the diagnosis. If the tooth decay is already causing pain for your dog, the following symptoms can occur in addition to discoloration:
- Swelling in the mouth area due to inflammation;
- Loss of appetite due to pain when chewing;
- Sensitivity to touch;
- Bad smell from the mouth.
Always see a veterinarian if you have these symptoms. In addition to tooth decay, the more common periodontal disease can lead to similar symptoms.
Treating Tooth Decay in Dogs
Dogs can also get fillings. The dentist can close the carious areas with a dental filling material. If caries have already penetrated deep into the tooth, a root canal treatment may be necessary. It is best to see a veterinarian who specializes in dental work if your dog has tooth decay. He can assess whether treatment on the tooth makes sense. Because if your four-legged friend is old or sick, the best thing to do is to pull a tooth. This also applies to carious dog teeth that are already badly damaged.
This is Why It is Important to Treat Tooth Decay in Dogs
Anyone who has ever had a “hole in their tooth” knows how painful tooth decay can be. This alone is a good reason to seek treatment for tooth decay in dogs. If the tooth is not treated, various inflammations or abscesses in the mouth can occur. The painful inflammation can extend into the jawbone (osteomyelitis). Such inflammation can be life-threatening, especially for older or chronically ill dogs. In the worst-case scenario, blood poisoning can occur. The damaged enamel can make the tooth brittle, causing parts to break off.
Preventing Tooth Decay in Dogs
Caries prophylaxis in dogs is similar to that in humans. Preventing tooth decay means first and foremost: preventing plaque. Two factors are decisive: a healthy diet and proper dental care.
What influence does food have on tooth decay?
When it comes to nutrition, it makes sense to give a feed with little or no grain and free of sugar. Mushy food and constant feeding can promote the development of plaque. If you mainly give wet food, your four-legged friend should also be able to chew something solid on a regular basis. If you train a lot with food throughout the day, you should pay particular attention to dental hygiene. Chews for dogs that provide natural abrasion are helpful. These include, for example, cattle ears or bull pizzas.
Have tartar removed by the vet
The more well-cared-for the teeth, the less contact surface they offer caries. At the annual veterinarian check-up, a look at your darling’s teeth is part of the routine examinations. If the dentist finds dental problems, he will discuss the options with you. If the dog has tartar, the vet can remove it. Anesthesia is necessary for this. If the plaque is light, the vet can scrape it off with a special tool – provided the dog cooperates.
More tips on tooth decay prophylaxis in dogs
Toys such as special play ropes can also have a positive effect on oral hygiene. In the meantime, powders are also available that can be put into the dog’s drinking bowl as “mouthwash”. The best way to prevent tooth decay and inflammation of the gums in your dog is to brush your dog’s teeth. There are now even ultrasonic toothbrushes for dogs. It may take some patience to get used to it, but then nothing stands in the way of shiny pearly whites.