The Dangers of Canine Periodontitis and How You Can Prevent It
Nothing ruins a kiss from your dog quite like bad dog breath
We’ve all been there. You make eye contact with your dog from across the room. Those big puppy dog eyes pull you in and all of the sudden - you are overcome with the urge to plant a kiss right on your pup’s nose. You pucker your lips, lean down, take a deep breathe in, and….Yuck! Bad breath is a sure-fire way to kill a mood. Am I right?
Unfortunately, bad dog breath isn't just gross. It can also be a sign of a much bigger problem: Canine Periodontitis. Canine Periodontitis is a bacterial infection of the mouth and it can lead to a number of serious health problems for your dog!
The Dangers of Canine Periodontitis
Periodontal disease starts when the bacteria from the mouth develops into plaque, which then adheres to the surface of your dog’s teeth. When the minerals found in your dog’s saliva meet that plaque, the plaque hardens into tartar.
Tartar will make its way under the gum line and wreak havoc on the tissue and bone that support your dog’s teeth. If left untreated, that decay will result in tooth, tissue, and bone loss. With nothing left to protect your dog’s bloodstream, the bacteria found in your dog’s mouth will enter the bloodstream and thus travel all over the body.
Pets with periodontal disease are more likely to develop heart disease as well as other forms of organ damage as the bacteria from the mouth constantly enters the bloodstream and adheres to the arteries surrounding the heart - which then circulate to organs throughout the body.
Like I said, bad breath isn’t just gross - it is dangerous!
Does your dog suffer from Periodontal disease? If so, you’re not alone. Over 75% of dogs over the age of three have canine periodontitis. That is 3 out of every 4 dogs!
Canine Periodontitis is the most common clinical condition occurring in dogs, yet it is entirely preventable.
How We Prevent Canine Periodontitis
Moose and Koda just turned 2 and I have come to realize that the days of cute puppy breath are long gone. Granted, I am thankful to be past the puppy teething phase... but their adult teeth come a whole new set of challenges. Namely plaque and tartar. The best way to prevent Canine Periodontal disease is to combat plaque before it has the chance to harden into tarter.
The damage caused by periodontal disease in dogs is irreversible, therefore, prevention is always better than treatment
Here are 5 ways you can control, reduce, or eliminate plaque and tartar in your dog’s mouth:
1. Healthy Diet
The foundation of a healthy mouth starts with a healthy diet. It is important to avoid foods with highly processed ingredients such as corn and soy glutens. Bacteria is known to thrive on carbohydrates (namely sugar and starches). So, when your dog’s highly-processed food gets stuck in their teeth, it provides a place for plaque to feast and tartar to develop.
By feeding your dog a balanced, high-quality diet, you can drastically reduce the risk of canine periodontitis developing.
Puppies are known for chewing on EVERYTHING, but just because your dog grows older and learns what not to chew on — it doesn’t mean they don’t want to chew.
Dogs have a strong natural desire to chew.
Chewing is a great source of mental stimulation for dogs of all ages. Providing your dog with a healthy - natural chew can be an effortless way to brush your dog’s teeth, reduce plaque build up, and provide mental stimulation.
There are a variety of safe, natural chews on the market that help prevent plaque build up
Chicken/Duck Feet (Raw)
We have a subscription with Real Dog Box so we receive 2 boxes of single-ingredient, unprocessed chews each month. I will be honest, I really do not like subscription boxes. But, the Real Dog Box is my one exception. I rely on them for my dog’s dental hygiene and anytime I see a bit of plaque build up, I know a Real Dog Box chew will take care of it for me. (plus Moose and Koda are obsessed with their chews)
3. Meal Additives
A great way to combat plaque is to stop it at the source by using a meal additive — such as Plaqueoff (or kelp/seaweed). Plaqueoff is made from 100% natural seaweed which has been shown to significantly reduce plaque and tartar build up in dogs. It inhibits the plaque from ‘sticking’ to surfaces in the mouth as well as softens the already existing tartar.
Solutions like additives don’t work overnight - but improvements should be seen anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks.
We all know that the best way to clean teeth is to brush them. After all, isn’t that how we clean our own teeth? Ideally, a dog’s teeth should be brushed twice a day.
Homemade Doggy Toothpaste
- Baking Soda (2 tbsp)
- Coconut Oil (2 tbsp)
- Peppermint Oil (1 drop) *optional
But let's be honest, we all get busy and we don’t brush our dog’s teeth nearly as much as we should. I used to brush my dogs’ teeth 2-3 times a week. Over time, life caught up to me and that level of maintenance just wasn’t an option for me anymore.
I do my best to utilize chews and additives instead, and when things need some serious TLC, I will go in with a toothbrush and give their teeth a good scrub. I only brush Moose and Koda’s teeth roughly 1 or 2 times a month now — instead I rely mostly on additive and chews.
5. Dental Cleanings
For many dogs, periodontal disease has already set in under the gum line — and no amount of brushing, chewing, or meal additives will help. At this point, it is best to take your dog in for an oral exam, x-rays, and cleaning with a licensed veterinarian.
There are always risks associated with anesthesia, but the risks of canine periodontitis far overshadow the risks involved with anesthesia. If a vet recommends a dental cleaning for your pet, it is always in their best interest to get one done.
So far, we have been very successful with our prevention methods. Our vet said he doesn’t foresee Moose or Koda needing a cleaning anytime in the near future. But, I always check their teeth everyday to make sure we don’t fall behind on dental hygiene .
Prevention is always better than treatment!