Dental care for dogs

An incredible 80% of dogs over three years old suffer from periodontal disease (disease affecting the immediate and supporting structure of the tooth).

Dental plaque that adheres to the surface of the teeth will turn into calculus (tartar) in three days in dogs, compared to an average 20 days in humans. Once calculus is formed, tooth brushing at home won’t remove it.

Brushing your dog’s teeth every day and regular dental cleaning by your vet are therefore essential, if you want your dog to enjoy a long and healthy life. Extra care is required for small dogs, short-nosed dogs and those with weak immune systems.

Periodontal disease is often mistakenly thought to only affect the mouth, but it can lead to other diseases. There are roughly 500 types of bacteria in the mouth, with numbers estimated at 100 billion per 1 gram of plaque. The toxic substance produced by these bacteria enters the bloodstream through inflamed gums, and is subsequently carried around the body. This can cause problems in the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Eventually at the local site, the bone surrounding the tooth is destroyed, resulting in jaw fracture and abnormal connections between the mouth and nose (fistulas).

Signs that your dog has periodontal disease:

• Increased salivation/ bad breath

• Pawing or scratching at the mouth

• Avoids harder food

• Chews with one side of the mouth

• Not eating despite looking hungry

• Unusually long-lasting nasal discharge, bleeding and/ or sneezing

• Swollen cheeks and/ or jaws

With dental health and overall health closely related, pet owners are encouraged to pitch in and help maintain their beloved dogs’ teeth.

You can call Dr Norikata Yanai BVSc (Hons) of Tung Chung Vet Centre on 2328 7282.