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Expert Advice on Small Dog Dental Health: Common Issues & Prevention

Understanding the Risks and Solutions for Oral Health in Toy Breeds

Here are the most common problems that threaten the health of small dogs' mouths and what we can do to curb them.

Small dog dental health. We asked a well-known expert in veterinary dentistry what the most common problems threaten the health of small dogs’ mouths and what we can do to protect them.

Here is his advice:

Is it true that small dogs are particularly prone to mouth and teeth problems?

Confirmed. With advancing age, the small or toy size is one of the most well-known risk factors for tooth and gum problems in dogs. Yorkies, Shih Tzu, Chihuahuas, Maltese, Jack Russells and dwarf Schnauzers, to name the most widespread pocket-sized mini-pals, represent the overwhelming percentage of the 91% of dogs over three years of age that suffer from oral cavity problems. I am referring mainly to ‘periodontal disease’ (gingivitis and periodontitis) but also to malocclusions, fractures, oro-nasal fistulas and persistent deciduous teeth.

But why do tiny dogs have an oral cavity so exposed to the risk of becoming ill?

It is a convergence of causes, mainly linked to the conformation of the head and teeth. In such minute skulls as those typical of miniature or toy breeds, the teeth have less bone support and do not have enough space to position themselves correctly. The result is an overcrowding of the dental elements, which encourages a more significant accumulation of plaque and tartar in the spaces between the teeth.

The risk of periodontal disease thus rises dramatically, as do the consequences. Untreated periodontitis can, for example, lead to a fracture of the mandibular bone even during simple playing or chewing activities.

It also represents a hotbed of infection in full swing, ready to spread its bat-teric charge even to distant, vital organs such as kidneys, heart, brain and lungs.

What are the alarm bells we should pay attention to?

If we are the owners of a minor or toy dog, attention to its oral cavity must always be very high right from puppyhood. Nothing must be taken for granted, starting with his breath. We cannot, for example, “dismiss” lousy breath (halitosis) just because we think the puppy has eaten inappropriate food or picked up rubbish on its daily tours.

Or that our four-legged miniature has bad breath only because ageing has altered his saliva production, and his teeth are physiologically less shiny than they used to be.

There is good news if you are trying to prevent tooth decay in your dog's teeth! Taking care of your dog's oral hygiene is, in fact, much easier than you think. All you need to do is adopt good habits such as checking your teeth often, brushing them frequently, choosing the correct diet and incorporating plaque-removing chewing snacks.

Halitosis should be interpreted as an actual alarm bell of poor oral hygiene: an unmistakable sign that plaque bacteria are ‘working’ undisturbed and that, after having colonised the tooth surface, they end up creeping underneath the gum, triggering the dreaded downward spiral of periodontal disease.

Once started, the inflammatory reaction, which in the early stages is characterised by gingivitis, compromises all the supporting structures of the teeth (periodontitis), generating severe pain, difficulty in taking in food and chewing it, and even mobility and loss of the teeth themselves.

Can we ensure the health of the mouth and teeth of our pocket-sized friends?

We certainly can. The first step is to subject our little friends, already at 4-6 months of age, to a veterinary check-up. This will be an opportunity to assess the overall state of the mouth and start talking about those ‘good practices’ of oral health carried out by the owners themselves daily within the walls of the home.

The best form of prevention is, in fact, the daily control of plaque, which begins to redeposit immediately after the teeth cleaning (scaling) carried out by the vet. The use of a toothbrush, in combination with tubes of toothpaste specially formulated for the animal, slows down the accumulation of plaque and prevents it from calcifying into tartar.

Ideally, teeth should be brushed daily, although this need can be reduced to 2-3 times a week in a healthy, well-controlled mouth. To encourage your pet’s cooperation, you can also adopt all those methods that support brushing in the control of plaque and tartar, such as the use of dry food or chewing toys (chews) with a “brushing” action on the teeth and the administration of nutritional support based on substances (e.g. brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum) that can combat plaque deposition and tartar formation, leading to a marked improvement in our little friend’s breath.

In short, there are many possibilities and easy tricks that a good dog owner, especially of small size, must transform into daily ‘habits’ dedicated to a great objective: the health and well-being of their pet’s oral cavity.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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