Dealing With Your Dog’s Dental Dilemmas

As strange as it sounds, many dog owners are familiar with the smell of their dog's breath, due to the fact that a dog doesn't tend to respect personal space. Your pooch just wants to be next to you, and with this close contact, chances are that you have regular opportunities to catch a whiff of your dog's breath. This may not be an especially pleasant smell, but it shouldn't smell rancid, rotten, or foul. What could it mean when your dog's breath takes a turn for the worse?

Similar Dental Problems

Your dog is susceptible to many of the same dental problems as you. A direct comparison is unhelpful though, since while your dog obviously doesn't practice the same level of oral hygiene as you, their diet features less fermentable carbohydrates—which are a key contributor to tooth decay. This isn't to suggest that a dog isn't vulnerable to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and foul breath can sometimes be your first clue.

Tartar and Decay

Further investigations and observations can unearth further clues that your dog may be affected by tooth decay and periodontal disease. Like your own teeth, tartar (hardened dental plaque) can appear as patches of discolouration on a tooth's surface. This is often a precursor to tooth decay, although your dog may already have dark patches on their teeth indicating existing decay (cavities). Existing decay can make teeth sore, so your dog might display discomfort while eating.

Dental Examinations for Dogs

Any dental concerns (including inexplicably foul breath) should be reported to your vet. They may wish to schedule a dental examination for your dog. Dogs don't tend to be cooperative during these examinations, so it's likely that they'll be sedated. Your vet can perform a dental cleaning, which removes tartar from your dog's teeth. The removal of this tartar helps to manage the influx of oral bacteria which may be infecting your dog's gums, causing their periodontal distress. Inflamed gums should restore themselves after a dental cleaning. But what about cavities and general decay?

Canine Dental Restorations

A vet can fill a cavity, using the same sort of dental acrylic that would be used in human dentistry. Severely decayed teeth, where a filling would be insufficient for restoring the tooth, can receive a dental crown. Unlike a human's porcelain, tooth-coloured crown, a dental crown for a dog will be made of stainless steel. And simply extracting a severely decayed tooth is also a viable option. 

It's advisable to periodically inspect your dog's teeth and gums. However, sometimes the first warning sign that something is amiss with their dental health is when your dog wants to be close to you, and you can smell that something isn't quite right.

For more information, contact a vet in your area.