Dental Health Tips for Small Dogs
Dental disease and periodontal disease in dogs is prevalent and a serious issue across all breeds and sizes; however, when it comes to small breed dogs, these problems tend to be more prevalent.
Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition found in both cats and dogs. Periodontal disease is a broader term that indicates the presence of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth) within a pet’s mouth. The prevalence of periodontal disease in dogs and cats is due to the lack of consistent and effective dental care routines by pet owners. As Jennifer Adolphe, PhD, RD, Senior Nutritionist at Petcurean Pet Nutrition, explains, “Dental care is extremely important for dogs of all sizes. Poor dental health causes bad breath, plaque, tartar, gingivitis, periodontitis and abscesses, which make life miserable for your dog and can create health risks.” She elaborates by saying, “Gum inflammation can cause bacterial infections that affect other body organs such as the heart and the kidneys, and in extreme situations, can even result in death.”
For small breed dogs, the commonality of dental issues can be attributed to the overcrowding of teeth within many small dog breeds’ mouths. Many small dogs retain their baby teeth, so as their adult dog teeth come, in it causes overcrowding, which, in turn, increases plaque and tartar buildup. Dr. Adolphe affirms, “Small dogs are more prone to dental issues, which is often related to overcrowding of the teeth in their tiny mouths. Extra care must be taken to ensure good oral health for small dogs over their lifespan.” Dogs do not have a pet dentist that they see every 6 months, or annually, so pet owners need to be diligent about caring for their pup’s chompers to make sure they maintain healthy dog teeth. Dr. Adolphe advises, “Since dental health is so important to your small breed dog’s overall well-being, using a multi-step approach to oral hygiene is critical.”
This multi-step approach to oral hygiene includes a variety of methods to help prevent dental disease in dogs. While your veterinarian can perform dental cleanings for your pet, they require anesthesia, and are only performed every 6 months to a year. To truly be effective in helping your pup, you will need to establish a daily routine to help combat tartar buildup. You may be wondering, “Can you brush dogs’ teeth?” The answer is, yes, you can—and you should.
Dr. Adolphe instructs, “Daily teeth brushing goes a long way to preventing tartar buildup and gingivitis.” To find the best products for brushing your pet’s teeth, you should first consult your veterinarian, who can give you information on the proper tools and appropriate kinds of toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste for pets! Most human toothpaste contains fluoride, which is poisonous to dogs.
If your pet does not tolerate brushing their teeth, or you want to do more to combat periodontal disease, you can also look into dental chews and toys. Dr. Adolphe says, “Some toys and chews have been specifically designed to promote dental health. Look for products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.”
If you want to do more for your pup’s oral dog hygiene, you can also look into pet foods that cater to dental health. Petcurean offers dog food designed for small dogs that works to help combat dental disease in dogs. Dr. Adolphe explains, “The NOW FRESH Adult and Senior dog food recipes include sodium tripolyphosphate, parsley and peppermint to support oral health. Sodium tripolyphosphate binds calcium, which makes it unavailable for tartar formation. Parsley and peppermint are included to help promote fresh breath.”
The NOW FRESH grain-free small breed pet food line from Petcurean is a great option because it is made without any grains, gluten, wheat, rendered meats, by-products or artificial preservatives. These formulas do not have any ingredients that come from China. The NOW FRESH grain-free small breed dog food also uses 100% FRESH turkey, salmon and duck and has a small clover-shaped kibble that makes it easier for small dogs to chew.
Whatever route you choose to go in caring for your small dog’s dental health, it is important to remember that there is no one method that can be a cure-all for your pup’s dental woes. As Dr. Adolphe emphasizes, “Choosing a dental food, teeth brushing, routine veterinary checkups and dental cleanings, as needed, go a long way to keep your dog’s teeth pearly white and their breath fresh.” To truly maintain a healthy mouth, your pup will need to have a dental care routine that utilizes a variety of methods for the promotion of healthy dog teeth.
Kendall Curley, Pet Central Editorial Assistant
As a former Connecticut resident, Kendall is coming to terms with the lack of seasons in Florida by gaining an appreciation for all the activities that the Florida climate allows year-round. When she is not hard at work at Chewy, she can be found going on adventures with her dog, Pip, or going horseback riding with her friends. She is an avid fosterer of dogs and spends an inordinate amount of time picking dog hair off of her clothes and belongings.