Dog dental hygiene and diseases to be aware of


29 April 2023
Dental hygiene for dogs is essential, just like humans, dogs should visit the vet for regular dental checks as well.

Dogs are susceptible to dental diseases in the same way that humans are. When we visit the dentist we often have the chance to see the hygienist, and similarly, when you take your dog to visit the vet for a dental check, some practices may offer the opportunity for a qualified nurse to examine your dog's teeth. This can help you to understand the different ways to maintain good canine dental hygiene, rather than taking an appointment with the veterinarian.

In this blog, we talk about dog dental hygiene and the different dental diseases to be aware of in your dog.

Plaque Problems

Good canine oral health doesn't just mean keeping your dog's teeth looking clean and healthy, and the consequences of dental disease are not limited to the mouth. If your dog has developed plaque, this can have a detrimental effect on the rest of his body.

As is the case with humans, if there is any inflammation in their gums, the plaque can enter their bloodstream and travel all the way to the vital organs. Plaque is the sticky coating of bacteria that can be found on the gums, teeth and tongue. The bacteria and acid within the plaque can erode the teeth and gums. 

This plaque will eventually turn into tartar, this is what happens when the plaque solidifies. The more tartar your dog has in their mouth, the greater the potential problems that can occur. By ridding your dog of the plaque in the first place you are able to prevent problems arising in the future and the potential deterioration of your dog's oral health.

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What Should You Be Looking For?

It is helpful to know what to look for and how to spot the signs of potential dental issues in your dog. You may notice bad breath, this can be caused by plaque and the sulphur smell produced by the plaque bacteria.

Swollen gums, which may bleed can indicate tartar forming on your dog's teeth. You may also notice that your dog is drooling more. If you spot any of these symptoms then it's worth seeing a vet.

If your dog is reluctant to eat this could be due to pain in the mouth. A dog with a painful mouth will appear very grumpy and even depressed and he may not wish you to stroke his face. Look out for changes in behaviour and consider oral problems to be a cause. Again, a trip to the vet is advised.

Brushing your dog’s teeth

Toothpaste and toothbrushes are not just for humans!

Using a toothbrush for your dog will promote good oral hygiene. It's also worth giving different diets a try if you are worried about the state of your dog's teeth and gums. Diets that are beneficial to teeth include food that is the right size and texture to help the cleaning process of the teeth.

Also worth a try are chewy snacks and products that can be added to your dog's drinking water.

Dogs not only enjoy chews as treats but chews can help to minimise the build-up of plaque on the teeth. Seaweed products are often used successfully to keep your dog’s teeth healthy, in particular seaweed products that are added to water.

These products combat plaque as well as bad breath so are an all-round helpful addition to your dog’s diet. All of these products are readily available at 365 Vet.

If you become aware of a plaque build-up on your dog's teeth you should try to brush their teeth. It's really important to use toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs though as the fluoride in human toothpaste can be detrimental to a dog's health. If you've never tried this before, your dog will be unfamiliar with the sensation of having their teeth brushed and may resist or even try to bite the toothbrush.

If this is the case begin using brushing motions with a finger and introduce a toothbrush slowly after that. Rewarding good behaviour when they allow you to brush their teeth will help the process.

Common Dental Diseases

Nobody likes bad breath!

However, unfortunately, it could be more than just that, and dental diseases are very common problems in dogs due to their age, breed and diet.

Plague & Tartar Build-Up

Plaque is a build-up of saliva, as well as a combination of food and bacteria; as it collects in the teeth it eventually turns into a hard, brown substance called tartar. Tartar damages the teeth, causing painful and inflamed gums as well. All of the bacteria from this can then enter the blood and cause problems with your dog's kidneys, heart and liver.


Gingivitis is an extremely uncomfortable and painful condition usually caused by a lot of plaque and tartar build-up in and around your dog’s teeth. A common dental disease like this can cause the gums to become red, sensitive and bleed regularly.

This is something that can be extremely painful for your dog, and will more than likely require a trip to the vet.

Tooth Root Abscess

A tooth root abscess is an infection around the tooth that will develop when bacteria and dirt gets underneath the gum. Tooth abscesses are very uncomfortable for us, let alone for our furry friends. Abscesses will often cause swelling on one side of the face, causing discomfort.

Cracked or Broken Teeth

Your dog's teeth will be very solid and don’t break easily at all. However, if they are weakened by any diseases then this can cause them to wear down, or sometimes even crack. If your dog breaks or damages a tooth it’s always essential to take them straight to the vet as the damage might not end there.

Damaged teeth can often be extremely painful for your dog and lead to infections, therefore we recommend refraining from giving your dog anything hard to chew in case of causing any more damage.