How does dental health impact the overall health of my dog?

First and foremost, dental disease can be really painful for dogs. Pain is obviously never a good thing. But dental disease can impact basically every organ of the body. Starting with heart disease. It can be caused by dental disease. There are a lot of bacteria that build up in the mouth, and they can spread through the bloodstream, and if it goes to the heart, it can affect the heart valves. They can have heart disease that can come out of the blue, just from that. It can go to the liver and kidneys and affect otherwise healthy dogs. It can kind of eat away at the bone of their jaws and cause pain and irritation. So dental care is one of the most important things to keep dogs healthy overall as they get older.

Dr. Molly Kase
Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital

How can I care for my dog's teeth at home?

So at home, teeth brushing is really important. You can use toothpaste, dental tubes, and dental treats. They even make tooth wipes like pads that you can use on the teeth. You can also use finger brushes if you don't want to use an actual toothbrush to get in there on the outside of the teeth.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of dental disease in dogs?

They can vary. You can see some pain when they're eating, especially when they have hard kibble. You can see generalized irritability sometimes if you're touching around the face. Bad breath or halitosis, obviously. They'll have a buildup of the bacteria in the mouth. Those are probably going to be the biggest things.

What are some of the common dental diseases in dogs?

Gingivitis is a big one. Once the tarter starts building up, it can lead to just periodontal disease when the Gingivitis and the underlying bone are involved. You can see dental cysts as well. You can see diseases where the gums proliferate and overgrow, which traps the bacteria underneath. There are even some dental tumors, unfortunately, in older dogs.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of dental disease so important?

The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to treat, similar to all diseases. Hopefully, if we catch it early, it'll be just a minor procedure. We often catch it early enough with just yearly cleanings, which can prevent a major overhaul or even having to remove teeth.

How often should my dog's teeth be checked?

We check them at the yearly wellness exams. But if you suspect anything, come in and have them checked out as soon as possible.

What is a professional dental cleaning like for my dog?

They come in in the morning, and we do our exam. We do everything under anesthesia because we obviously can't ask them to sit still and open wide. Under anesthesia, we do full x-rays of everything. We can see what the bone looks like under the teeth. We do a full cleaning and polishing just like you would get at your dentist. Then, based on that, we see if we need to do anything else or if it's just a clean and polish.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (262) 781-5277, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can

Dog Dental - FAQs

Dr. Molly Kase
Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital

How often should I brush my dog's teeth?

Ideally, every day, but every other day will suffice if you can't. At least every other day.

Are there any tips for making brushing a dog's teeth easier?

I guess starting as young as possible. So when they're a puppy, getting them used to the action of brushing their teeth. You only have to brush the outside, so you should get them used to even just a finger brush on the outside. If you do it right before dinner, they'll be really excited about it because they know that dinner's coming afterward.

What product should I use to brush my dog's teeth?

You want to use pet toothpaste, and preferably one that is certified by the Veterinary Oral Health Council or the VOHD. At the moment, there's only one, and it's called pet smile. It's right there. It has several different flavors: beef, chicken, cheese, and it's nice because it's enzymatic. So it works even if you can't get the actual physical brushing motion on there.

Can I use human toothpaste?

We don't want to use human toothpaste because the dogs will be ingesting the toothpaste when we put it on their teeth, and human toothpaste can be toxic. They're not meant to be ingested. They can have xylitol in it, so stay away from human toothpaste.

Do I still need to brush my dog's teeth if I give them Greenies?

Greenies are great. They're great dental treats, but ideally, brushing the teeth will be the gold standard for dental care.

Can dogs get cavities?

Dogs can get cavities. It's a rarer type of dental disease, but they can still get cavities just like humans can.

Are there any chew toys that can also work to brush my dog's teeth?

There are many that will advertise that they will brush your dog's teeth, but they're not going to do exactly the same as a good old fashion toothbrushing or finger brushing. A lot of them will say that they will, but not quite as good as kind of the Veterinary Oral Health Council certified products.

What are some of the other products out there?

A couple of different ones. We've talked about toothpaste, and there are several prescriptions diets. They formulate the kibble so that it helps crunch the charter off the teeth, so those are great. There are some Rawhide chews, water additives, and things like that. Those different products will help keep your pet's mouth healthy.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (262) 781-5277, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can