Today, we had to take BG1 and BG2 to the vet for their annual vaccination and and overall health check. This was not good news – they hate the vet. BG1 becomes extra gumpy (something about the vet putting a thermometer up his poor bottom a while back which he has yet to forgive) and BG2 shakes uncontrollably and attempts to jump off the observation table as often as she can (who cares about broken legs – as long as she keeps away from the vet is her train of woof-thoughts!).
I hate taking them there too – two already grumpy dogs enclosed in a confined space with other gumpy I-don’t-want-to-be-here-either dogs makes for a dangerous evening. I hate having to see them get injected with needles (I know I know – its good for them) and I hate the fact that everytime we come here, I get told the BG1 is too fat and needs a diet. Bleah.
Anyway, we made our way down, and yes – all of the above happened. Attempts to jump off tables and escape as soon as the door was open, grumpy growls at other dogs that came it – the works. We were however told that BG1 had lost some weight and was now 5.3kg – great! Just 1kg off the top weight for his breed then!!
We were also told that both the dogs had on-set Periodontal Disease – this does not surprise us as we don’t brush their teeth because we don’t quite fancy being bitten by BG1 and don’t like to run around the house chasing BG2. Periodontal Disease is basically inflammation of some or all of the tooth’s support structures. Its is caused by bacteria and is a very common disease with dogs. Bacteria and food particles collect around the gums forming plaque. If the plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva (combined with plaque and tartar) sticks to the teeth pretty strongly.
Plaque starts to mineralize 3-5 days after it forms. The tartar is irritating to the gums and causes an inflammation called gingivitis. This can be seen as reddening of the gums adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad breath.
If the calculus is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It separates the gums from the teeth to form “pockets” and encourages even more bacterial growth. At this point the damage is irreversible, and called “periodontal” disease. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection.
Numerous factors play a role in the formation of plaque, tartar, and the development of periodontal disease. These include:
- Age and general health status
- Diet and chewing behavior
- Breed, genetics, and tooth alignment
- Grooming habits
- Home care
- Mouth environment
- Age and Health Status: Periodontal disease more commonly affects older animals
Age and Health Status:Periodontal disease more commonly affects older animals.
Diet and Chewing Behavior: Studies show that hard kibbles are slightly better than canned foods at keeping plaque from accumulating on the teeth. Dogs that chew on various toys or edible dental chews may remove some of the plaque build-up.
Breed, Genetics, and Tooth Alignment: Small breed and brachycephalic (flat headed dogs) dogs are at greater risk of periodontal disease because their teeth are often crowded together. This results in an increased accumulation of plaque because the normal cleansing mechanisms are hindered.
Grooming Habits: Hair accumulation and impaction around the tooth can increase the development of tartar
Home Care: Regular brushing of your dog’s teeth can greatly reduce the accumulation of plaque and development of tartar, thus reducing the risk of periodontal disease.
Mouth Environment: Dogs that open-mouth breathe tend to have a more tenacious plaque because of the dehydration of the oral cavity.
How to spot if your dog might have Periodontal Disease:
- Purulent exudate (pus) around the tooth
- Persistent bad breath
- Gums that bleed easily
- Sensitivity around the mouth
- Pawing at the mouth
- Gums that are inflamed (red), hyperplastic (enlarged), or receding
- Loose or missing teeth
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach or intestinal upsets
- Difficulty chewing or eating
- Irritability or depression
After speaking to the vet, she mentioned that there were certain types of dry food that has been formulated to help dogs with this disease, she explained that these special kibble would effectively ‘stick’ to the tops of their teeth and ‘drop’ through constant moving of their mouths. I am not sure about switching their diets, as they are quite happy with Lily’s Organic, but what I might do is mix up the vets recommendation and our food – see if that does the trick. She has also recommended ‘Greenies’, an American brand, which is a lot like Pedigree Dentastix (which they have every night) and so, I will try this new recommendation, will update you if I see any difference! Apparently Greenies help with bad breath too, which the better half is happy about (BG1 has stinky breath most days!)
For now, we will have to book both the babies in for a ‘polish and scale’, which means they will be put under general anesthetic (which has its own dangers or course, especially as they are small dogs) but I have checked with vet – its only after the age of 8 that we need to be careful about the anesthetic. So – off they will go in about a month or so, and of course, we will get another evening of grumpiness. The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to make sure you are brushing your doggies teeth regularly. At the slightest whiff of bad breath – check for signs. Don’t be like silly old me and think that BG1’s bad breath was due to prolonged morning breath (yeah that lasted morning till night!!) Because of my silliness, my poor BG1 had to have 4 teeth removed last year. 🙁
Right, for now, I am off to make amends to the babies for bringing them to the vets by bribing them with chicken biscuits. If that fails – I will have to whip out the sausages! Wish me luck!
Until next time peeps, don’t forget to brush your doggies teeth!
PS: You can read more about Periodontal Disease here.