Research has shown that up to 80% of dogs show signs of oral disease by age three.
Most people are aware that their pet needs to be well looked after to try to prevent future healthcare problems. One part of the pet however is often overlooked – the teeth.
Many owners complain that their dog is suffering from bad breath and are keen for a cure. Far fewer are interested in the root causes of bad breath or how to address them, namely proper oral hygiene.
Without proper attention dogs can suffer from damage to the teeth, gums and jaw. In particular toy dogs, with their crowded jaws, are prone to tooth loss.
So what are the signs of dental disease?
If you look at your dog's teeth (especially the molars at the back of the mouth) you may see plaque.
Plaque is a yellowish deposit on the surface of the teeth resulting from a build up of debris and bacteria. It is the same 'furry' substance which we can feel on our own teeth if we go too long without brushing.
If plaque is not removed then over time it builds up and hardens to a brown tartar. Tartar is far harder to remove than plaque and encases the teeth like a coat of cement. Rather than simply being able to be brushed off it needs to be chipped off.
Besides looking unsightly tartar build up contributes to stinky breath and gum disease.
Gum disease, gingivitis, is recognisable by red or inflamed gums rather than salmon pink healthy gums.
As with so many things prevention is better than cure, it is therefore important to try and clean your dog's teeth on a weekly if not daily basis. Where there is significant tartar build up then it is likely your dog's teeth will have to be cleaned under anaesthetic at the vets.