One of the most overlooked pieces of animal care is oral health. At Atlas Animal Hospital, we can help treat a variety of infections of the mouth and help maintain a healthy mouth for a lifetime. We can help diagnose and cure the issue. Finding out what’s bothering your pet is our #1 concern, that is why we are the number one choice of vets in Vancouver.

Main Mouth Disorders in Pets

Periodontitis or pyorrhea is a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the periodontium: Periodontal disease is the most common disease found in dogs and affects more than 80% of dogs aged three years or older. Its prevalence in dogs increases with age, but decreases with increasing body weight; i.e., toy and miniature breeds are more severely affected. Systemic disease may develop because the gums are very vascular (have a good blood supply). The blood stream carries these anaerobic micro-organisms, and they are filtered out by the kidneys and liver, where they may colonize and create microabscesses. The micro-organisms traveling through the blood may also attach to the heart valves, causing vegetative endocarditis (infected heart valves). Additional diseases that may result from periodontitis include chronic bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis.

Swollen gums: develop when tartar builds up and food gets stuck between the teeth. They are also an initial sign of dental problems and can lead to more serious diseases if not treated. You can prevent swollen gums through teeth cleaning and regular visits to the vet for check-ups.

Salivary gland cysts: is a malady that affects one of the four salivary glands in cats or dogs. Of the four, the most commonly affected glands are the largest ones under the jaw (the mandibular salivary gland) and the one under the tongue (the sublingual salivary gland). If you suspect your pet may be suffering from a salivary gland cyst, the following information will teach you more about the condition.

Halitosis: Dental disease or mouth ulcers can produce rotten smelling breath (halitosis). Dental calculus harbors numerous bacteria which produce odor and foul breath. Dental disease can also lead to excessive drooling, and the skin around the mouth can become infected, leading to more odor production. Dogs can also acquire foul smelling breath as a result of coprophagia, the practice of eating their own feces or the feces of other animals. Commercially prepared food additives can be purchased which, when added to a dog’s food, impart a bitter flavor to their feces thereby reducing the tendency towards consuming their own feces.

Gingivitis: develops when bacteria build up between the teeth and gums, leading to irritation, inflammation, and bleeding. The edges of healthy gums fit tightly around the teeth. A characteristic sign of gingivitis is bad breath. The halitosis may have been present for some time, and possibly even accepted as normal. The gums appear red and swollen, and bleed easily when touched. Pressing on the gums may cause pus to ooze from the gum line.

Proliferating Gum Disease: Some breeds, including boxers and terriers, are prone to proliferating gum disease, in which the gum grows over the teeth and causes infection. This condition requires intervention to prevent serious dental disease.

Oral or Mouth Tumors: Tumors in the mouth are common in dogs and cats, but may not be initially obvious to the owner. Tumors are classified as benign or malignant. There are also other causes of swelling of tissues in the mouth – gingival hyperplasia (generalized overgrowth of the gum tissue) is common in dogs and occasionally cats, and is not a tumor. Other non-tumorous causes of swelling of oral tissues include local infection or collection of saliva from a damaged salivary gland. Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body, and generally grow more slowly than malignant tumors. Malignant tumors (cancer) invade the tissues adjacent to the tumor and may spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes even aggressive treatment is not successful.

Canine Distemper Teeth: a viral disease that affects animals in the families Canidae, Mustelidae, Mephitidae, Hyaenidae, Ailuridae, Procyonidae, Pinnipedia, some Viverridae and Felidae (though not domestic cats; feline distemper or panleukopenia is a different virus exclusive to cats). It is most commonly associated with domestic animals such as dogs and ferrets, although it can infect wild animals as well. It is a single-stranded RNA virus of the family paramyxovirus, and thus a close relative of measles and rinderpest. Despite extensive vaccination in many regions, it remains a major disease of dogs. The lasting symptoms in Puppies, especially, will have damage to the enamel of teeth that are not completely formed or those that have not yet grown through the gums. This is a result of the virus killing the cells responsible for manufacturing the tooth enamel. These affected teeth tend to erode quickly.

There are several ways you can care for your dog’s teeth every day. A complete home dental care program for your dog often will include brushing as well as a special dog food that helps care for your dog’s teeth while he or she eats. Learn more about pet dental care. Even if you aren’t able to brush your dog’s teeth every day, by incorporating a special dog food into his daily routine, you can provide the dental care needed to keep him healthy. Be sure to talk with your veterinarian about the options that exist and which are right for your dog.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

  • Introduce a brushing program gradually. Avoid over-restraining him and keep brushing sessions short and positive. A small dog can be held in your lap. Praise and reassure your dog throughout the process.
  • At first, dip a finger into beef bouillon. Rub the soaked finger gently over your dog’s mouth and teeth. Make the initial sessions short and positive.
  • Gradually, introduce gauze over the finger and gently scrub the teeth in a circular motion.
  • Finally, you can introduce a soft toothbrush designed for pets. Use a sensitive or ultra-soft brush designed for people or a brush designed for pets. Special pet toothbrushes are available from your veterinarian or specialty pet store. Don’t use toothpaste designed for people because it could upset your dog’s stomach