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At City Vets, we advise that your dog’s dental hygiene is just as important as any other routine and preventative treatment. Like humans, dogs can develop a build-up of tartar, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

Brushing your dog’s teeth once or twice a day is the best option for good oral hygiene. We also have products such as liquids to add to their water to help reduce plaque build-up and reduce bad breath (halitosis), as well as veterinary dental diets. Here at City Vets, our team would be happy to assist you with answering any questions you may have, as well as advising you on the recommended products or diets for your dog.

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Symptoms of dental disease in dogs

Apart from bad breath, in the earliest stages of dental disease you may notice a build-up of plaque – which is a soft off-white material on the teeth. This can be removed by brushing. Later this becomes brown and mineralises to form hard tartar (also called dental calculus).

The gums may appear red and inflamed (gingivitis), and later the gum margins start to recede exposing the roots of the teeth and larger areas of inflammation and ulcers may be present. When the tissues that support the teeth are involved, it is called periodontal disease and the teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Painful tooth root abscesses may also form.

What are the signs of dental disease in dogs?

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Visible tartar build-up on teeth
  • Red or inflamed gums (gingivitis)
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Drooling
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Slowness or reluctance to eat
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Dropping food from the mouth when eating
  • Swelling around the mouth (from potential tooth root abscesses)
 

If you detect any of the above signs, please contact City Vets in Alphington, Heavitree, St Thomas and Whipton to book an appointment for a vet to examine your dog as soon as possible.

 

Is dental disease serious for dogs?

YES, dental disease is serious for two main reasons:

Dogs with dental disease will be in discomfort or pain. Animals always try to hide problems, therefore, only some will show obvious signs of pain.

Why does dental disease occur in dogs?

Food and saliva that is left behind on the teeth will form plaque on the tooth. Plaque is soft and can be removed by brushing or using alternative dental products. If not removed, the plaque will harden forming tartar, which is difficult to remove without dentistry intervention.

If tartar is not removed (normally via the scale and polish procedure) then bacteria will spread below the gumline, causing red sore gums. This is called gingivitis and periodontitis, which in turn can lead to lose teeth, infection of the tooth root and jawbone infections.

How to prevent dental disease in dogs

Brushing to remove plaque and tartar can help to prevent the establishment of serious dental problems, including periodontal disease. The nurses can help you; make an appointment if you want to learn how to brush your pet’s teeth.

If you suspect your pet already has dental problem, you should book an appointment with us.

The City Vets team would be happy to help with advice on introducing this to your dog.

Specialist prescription diets and lifestage diets have been formulated to help, plus certain normal diets such as Hills T/D and Hills Vet Essentials have special components to help keep clean teeth.

Many dogs will allow their owners to brush their teeth, introducing the idea gradually. There are also dental gels and chews that will help.

Find out more about how you can save on routine healthcare with City Vets Healthcare Plan

Treating dental disease in dogs at City Vets in Exeter

If dental disease has reached an advanced stage, there are a number of treatment options City Vets Vets in Exeter recommends:

  • A blood sample prior to having dental work to check that your pet is fit and well enough for an anaesthetic; that there are no other underlying problems that could be making things worse, e.g. kidney disease.
  • A dental, scale and polish, plus extractions, as needed are performed under a general anaesthetic.
  • If infection is well established, antibiotics may have to be prescribed before and/or after dental treatment.
  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications are also often required.
  • Dogs can still eat a wide variety of foods, often including hard kibble, even with no teeth. The most important thing is that they have a comfortable, healthy mouth.

However, as some of these procedures need a general anaesthetic, it is best to try to keep their teeth clean, rather than rely on anaesthetics and dental scaling, if possible.

Book an appointment to speak to a vet at your local City Vets in Alphington, Heavitree, St Thomas and Whipton.

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Further reading:

Cat Dental Care | Rabbit Dental Care

  • Alphington | 12 Lovelace Gardens,
    Alphington,
    Exeter, Devon,
    EX2 8XQ
    | T: 01392 493999 |
  • Heavitree | Rosary House,
    27 Fore Street,
    Heavitree, Exeter,
    EX1 2QJ
    | T: 01392 250066 |
  • St Thomas | 101 Buddle Lane,
    St Thomas,
    Exeter, Devon,
    EX4 1QS
    | T: 01392 250000 |
  • Whipton | 46 Whipton Village Road,
    Exeter,
    Devon,
    EX4 8AW
    | T: 01392 465553 |