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Dog teeth problems


Today we’re talking about dog teeth problems. Although it’s not always an emergency situation, it is important to learn about it., recognize early problems and take action when needed.

Dental problems can become very painful and can lead to serious complications.

Teeth rarely cause an acute problem in the dog’s mouth. However, the problems usually develop over a long period of time and therefore need regular care and veterinary check ups.

In the following lesson we focus on the most common dental problems and how to maintain and check your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. 

Dogs and their teeth

Dogs have deciduous and permanent teeth. This means that their teeth change from one set to another during their growing period, just like us humans.

The first teeth, also called deciduous teeth, show up in the 4th to 6th week of puppy’s life. At that stage of their life they have 28 teeth.

Deciduous teeth change gradually to the permanent teeth between the age of 3 to 7 months. After the change of teeth, dogs are the proud owners of 42 teeth. 

Most dog breeds have scissor bite when the mouth is closed, which is similar to human teeth.

Sometimes, during the development period of jaw, the teeth may not line up correctly and that’s why they need to be observed closely during your dog’s first year of life.

Early intervention might still fix the situation and your dog can be saved from painful problems later on. It is extremely important that you familiarize your dog with checking his teeth and mouth at a young age.

That makes it much easier for you to check his teeth and you are able to recognize changes in there. It’s easy to detect issues such as:

Accumulation of the plaque.

Broken teeth

Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums),

And of course, it’s also handy when you have to remove an object from your dog’s mouth!

Common dog teeth problems

Persistent deciduous teeth

Sometimes, deciduous teeth are strongly attached to the gums and aren’t coming out when the permanent teeth show up. The problem comes when the permanent teeth pop out, right next to deciduous teeth. Therefore they are unable to detach.

When you notice this event in your puppy’s mouth you shouldn’t wait. The permanent teeth can grow into the wrong position, therefore causing malocclusion.

The deciduous teeth need to be removed by the vet in order to prevent that from happening. That teeth removal procedure is done under general anesthesia.

Let your puppy play with a lot of toys. It helps the deciduous teeth to detach.

Please note that you should never attempt to remove the teeth yourself! Contact your vet and avoid problems early on!

Gingivitis & Dog Periodontal Disease  

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums. This happens when your dog’s teeth are not brushed or cleaned regularly. For some dogs, gingivitis develops easier and faster than for others. Therefore there is no general rule on how often you need to get his teeth cleaned by a vet.

Teeth cleaning is done by a qualified veterinarian under general anesthesia!

Gingivitis develops when bacteria cover the surface of the teeth and form dental plaque. Plaque cannot be removed by anything else than mechanical removal. Thus, brushing your dog’s teeth on a daily basis is the most effective way to keep plaque under control.

There are special diets, treats, chews and other products but they should not replace brushing.

Dog periodontal disease, also called gum disease or periodontitis, is the inflammation of the tissue around the teeth and it can do 3 things:

Firstly, causing your dog’s teeth to loosen up and even fall out.

Secondly, the inflammation and bacteria can cause severe abscesses.

Thirdly, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream every time the dog eats something, potentially affecting other areas of the body.

Unfortunately, affected tissue cannot be cured. The only option is to remove all of the affected teeth. Periodontitis always happens after gingivitis.

So, no gingivitis – no periodontitis.

Dog tooth decay stages

There are several dog tooth decay stages, and recognizing the early ones is important. First, the plaque starts to build up around the teeth.  As the condition gets worse, the dog's teeth will be completely covered and the plaque starts to make it's way into the gums. As a result, the gums starts to swell up and look red. Eventually the teeth start rotting and the gums start to get inflamed. 

Dog tooth infection symptoms

Gingivitis is characterized by following signs:

Not accepting food or treats

Pawing and cleaning the head often – This is a sign of facial pains

Your dog experiences loss of appetite

Your dog’s breath is smelly

The teeth are covered with plaque. The plaque’s color can vary from yellow to black.

The gums next to the teeth are red and/or swollen.

When you notice this, book a dental check up. It is important that your dogs teeth are checked at least once a year. Your vet will determine if dental cleaning is needed.

Dog teeth cleaning at home

Brushing, brushing and brushing! That's the only dog tooth decay home remedy! 

You have to understand the importance of brushing, and hopefully you do by now!

Brushing removes bacteria from the surface of the teeth, therefore preventing dental issues. Keep in mind though that your dog’s teeth still need to be checked by a vet once a year.

Those of you who are familiar with teeth cleaning know that it is an expensive procedure, so brushing your dog’s teeth saves money in the long run.

Especially small dog breeds which are under 10kg should have their teeth brushed daily as they are more prone to dental diseases. 

For brushing your dog’s teeth you need a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste. You should never use your own toothpaste as it can be dangerous for your dog’s health.

Dog teeth cleaning products 

Before you start charging your electric toothbrush and smear your dog's mouth with toothpaste, read this!

Dog teeth cleaning can be quite a challenge, especially if your dog is not used to the process. Therefore you have the right tools available to you, to make your job a little bit easier. 

You’ll need:


ALWAYS use toothpaste for dogs. That’s because they don’t contain harmful chemicals and they often have a nice flavor, like chicken or peanut butter. This is your secret weapon! I personally can't imagine tooth paste with chicken flavor, but I'm sure your dog prefers chicken over mint! 

Your doggy’s toothbrush

For smaller dogs, a finger toothbrush works best. However, for larger dogs you’ll want to use a lager tooth brush. They look similar to human tooth brushes but they are softer. It's recommended to use tooth brushes specifically made for dogs, and you can find them from your reputable pet shop. 

How to clean dog teeth

The brushing process step by step

Step 1: Find the right moment.

Don’t try to brush your dog’s teeth when he is in a playful or energetic mood. Trying to put something in his mouth will make him want to play with it. Instead, pick a moment when he’s calm and relaxed.

A great moment might be after you come back from your daily walk. When you come back, let him relax for a while so he is in a calm state of mind.

Tip: Do it at the same time when you brush your teeth in the evening. It becomes a good habit!

Remember: Teach your dog that brushing his teeth is a nice thing! If you’re gonna force it, he will associate the event with negative emotions. As a result, brushing his teeth then becomes a difficult task!

Step 2: Collect your supplies.

We discussed this earlier in the dog teeth cleaning products sections

Step 3: The correct position.

Make sure you are in a place where your dog feels safe. A good place is where he likes to relax or sleep during the day. It’s better to kneel or sit in front of the dog. It’s not a good idea to force him into an uncomfortable position.

Step 4: If your dog is not familiar with brushing just yet, you can “prime” him and get him used to the feeling in his mouth.

Touch his teeth and gums with your finger and apply a little bit of pressure. It may take a few tries before your dog will fully allow it.

Step 5: Test your weapon.

Your “secret weapon” is the toothpaste. See if your dog likes the taste of it, by putting some of it on your fingertip. If your dog wants to lick it, perfect! If he doesn’t, you may want to try a different flavor.

Remember: brushing the teeth should be a pleasant experience. If he likes the taste of the tooth paste, he’ll see it as a reward for letting you touch his teeth and gums.

Step 6: Try the toothbrush.

Once your dog is used to being touched inside his mouth, try adding the toothbrush. Again, this should be a nice experience. Don’t force it! Approach his mouth and give a gentle touch with the brush. If he allows it, start moving the brush around gently.

Step 7: Assuming your dog is used to the toothpaste and the toothbrush, lift his lip and set the brush against his teeth.

The ideal angle is between 40 and 50 degrees. Start making small circles while applying light pressure. Make sure to cover all teeth and the gums!

Note: The gums may start bleeding when you brush them. Most of the time this is no problem, if the bleeding is very light. Try to apply a bit less pressure and see if that reduces the bleeding next time. If the gums are bleeding a lot, there might be an underlying dental issue. In this case you should have the teeth checked by your veterinarian.

Step 8: When you’re done brushing, reward your dog!

Let him know how well he has been doing and give him positive attention!

Tip: Keep your dog relaxed throughout the process. Talk to him in a nice calm voice, explain what you’re doing and make him feel good. DON’T get frustrated if he struggles, it will make things 10 times worse and your hard work and training goes right through the drain!

Note: Most dogs do not allow the inside of their teeth to be brushed. This is no problem, don’t force it! If he doesn’t allow it, just check them on a regular basis.

What can I give my dog for tooth pain relief?

Painkillers. Those are the best way to go. Additionally, you can use anti-inflammatory medicine to make the inflammation go away. 

Keep in mind though, that you cannot give human medicine to your dog, unless it is prescribed by a qualified veterinarian. 

If you think your dog had painful teeth, simply book a check-up with the vet. He or she will decide what to do next.  

Make sure you read the lesson about poisoning before giving any medicine to your best friend! 

Make sure you read the lesson about dog poisoning before giving any medicine to your best friend!

That was it for today! 

Thank you for staying with me, I hope you've learned some useful information. 

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