Around the world (the pet world, that is), February is Pet Dental Health Month–that extra special time of year where most vets in North America will offer a percentage off of dental procedures*, and where everyone learns more about their canine’s canines! We wanted to write a little bit about your pet’s dental health and give you some facts that you may not have known.
- Did you know that dogs have 42 teeth in their mouth? When they give you that big, floppy-tongued smile, it may not seem like much, but there’s really a lot of points in there! As adults, dogs have 12 incisors, 4 canines, 14 premolars, 2 carnassials, and 10 molars. In comparison, adult humans have 32 (excluding wisdom) and adult cats have 30.
- Did you know that dogs may not have all these teeth as adults? A phenomena that is quite common from what we see–some smaller dogs, or brachycephalic (squish-nosed) dogs don’t grow in all their adult teeth. Usually the missing teeth are some of the smaller premolars, as these teeth don’t have corresponding puppy teeth.
- Puppies, like people, are born without teeth–however unlike us, by 2 weeks of old they usually start growing their deciduous (baby) teeth. By 8-10 weeks, they will have their full set! Their puppy teeth number at 28 and mostly exclude the adult premolars. Typically by 4-6 months of age they will have their full set of grown-up chompers.
- Did you know that pets do best with daily brushing? It’s true! Pets accumulate tartar and plaque just as people do. Could you imagine how gross your mouth would be if you didn’t brush for a week? Chewing on meaty chews and toys helps prevent excessive buildup, but the manual stimulation of the teeth and gums is the #1 way to keep your dog’s teeth clean.
- Did you know that dental disease is 100% preventable? Its true that some animals may be predisposed to dental issues–small dogs, extremely brachycephalic dogs, and certain breeds tend to have worse teeth than others–but there’s nothing you can’t do to prevent it! Daily brushing, high quality food with little filler, healthy chewing habits, good supplements, and vigilance are all keys to preventing your pet from having a serious procedure later on in life.
- Did you know that by age 3, nearly 80% of dogs and cats show some signs of periodontal disease? Signs include a foul odour from the mouth (different from regular doggy breath!) a reddening of the gums, the gums pulling back from the teeth (recession), and whitish-green goop in and around the gumline. A pet is never too young or too old to start developing dental issues, which can be caused by a gamut of situations–broken teeth, poor food, under or overuse, poor hygiene habits, poor chewing patterns, and other pre-existing health issues in the animal can all contribute to the development of poor dental health.
Pets are a huge portion of our lives, but it’s true that dental care tends to fall to the side in the face of other veterinary issues.
Why is this? Dental care is a huge aspect in human health, so why is it that we tend to gloss over our canine companions’ teeth?
Well, the truth is that it’s only recently that dental health has been much of a concern. Evolutionarily speaking, many of the breeds that are popular today are predisposed to poor dental health; the smallest of chihuahuas has the same amount of teeth in their mouth as a wolf! Over the years, as breeding has shortened dog’s snouts, the teeth have crammed together–excessive crowding leads to greater build up between the crowded teeth, which irritates the gum and causes the gum to recede, which in turn can lead to loose teeth, infections, and serious issues in the gum and the health of jaw. With more dogs being bred smaller, it’s clear that dental health is going to become–and already is–more and more of a concern. Overall, it’s why the vet board created this month, and why we here at K9 Gentle Dental wholeheartedly support it!
Dental health should be a top priority every day of every month–but in February, we’re going to give a special shout out to taking care of those pearly whites for our pets and us, and make sure we learn all we can know about how to keep our pets mouths as clean and healthy as possible!
*Please note that availability may vary between veterinary offices; please visit your veterinarian to inquire about their specials for Pet Dental Health month (February 2018)