by Hannah Prime
You walk in to the bright room, that familiar smell hits you as soon as you walk through the door, the sound of buzzing which haunts you in your sleep, your palms begin to sweat, and so begins the bargaining.. You are not in a horror movie, you’re at the dentist! We all know the importance of preventative dental care, and how dental problems can not only cause uncomfort and pain in the mouth, but can be a sign of more serious health issues. Dental health should not be limited to your two legged family, but to your dachshund as well. Like dentists say- prevention is the most important step. Understanding dental health, and symptoms to look out for, could be the difference between a simple scale and polish, your dachshund spitting their dentures out when they blow out the candles on their birthday pupcakes, or to more devastating results.
So what is dental disease?
Alarmingly, periodontal disease (an infection of the ‘periodontium’, or tissues surrounding your dogs teeth which is caused by bacteria) is one of the biggest health issues in our pets today. A staggering 80% of dogs will suffer from dental disease by their 3rd birthday. Dental disease does not just cause bad breath, it can cause inflammation, infection, and has even been linked to health issues such as diabetes, sepsis and heart failure. The most important thing to remember about dental disease is that it can usually be prevented, with good dental hygiene, a nutritious diet and regular veterinary check ups. In certain breeds, overcrowding of teeth can cause dental disease- dachshunds are amongst the small breeds most susceptible of dental disease, this means their mouth cavity does not have enough room to house the 42 teeth they will grow after losing their deciduous teeth, which should have fallen out from 3 months of age. If these teeth have not fallen out, your vet can remove them when you have your dachshund desexed (usually around 6 months of age).
One of the biggest tell tale signs your dachshund is suffering from periodontal disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums, which can cause them to become bright red, swollen and bleed when your dachshund is eating or chewing their toy. While it may be the first symptom, it can mean that your dachshund requires dental treatment sooner than you think. Gingivitis can be solved by regular brushing and flossing in humans, but as most dachshunds aren’t as cooperative when it comes to flossing time, gingivitis can quickly escalate into further dental disease. Gingivitis can be caused by leftover food, which has become caught in your dachshunds teeth, causing bacteria to grow, which then turns in to plaque (a film persay of bacteria, which covers the tooth). Over time, this film hardens, turning it in to tartar. Tartar is much harder to remove, and cannot be done yourself, as it attaches itself to an infected tooth so much so, that it can become a ‘wedge’ between the infected gum, and the tooth. Depending on what stage of periodontal disease your dachshund is suffering from, will depend on whether the infected teeth will survive. In many cases, the true extent of damage cannot be seen by the naked eye, but by radiographs, and general anaesthetic. Not only is periodontal disease uncomfortable and painful, it can open the gate to other illness’, as your dachshunds immune system is fighting hard to beat this infection, it can become compromised.
What are some of the causes of periodontal disease?
– Overcrowding and misalignment of teeth
– Chewing behaviours (how and what they chew)
– Over grooming (large amount of hair in the oral cavity can promote bacteria)
– Excessive panting (open mouth breathing can promote bacteria- always ensure this is a behaviour, and they’re not trying to cool themselves down, or they could be at risk of heat stroke)
– Lack of oral hygiene (manual brushing)
What are the signs of periodontal disease?
– Bad breath
– Reluctance to eat/chew
– Loss of appetite
– Excessive drooling
– Blood in their saliva/bowl/on their toys
– Agitated or depressed attitude
– Rubbing their face
– Swollen gums
– Yellow casings over their teeth
– Pus present in their mouth/on their teeth
– Swollen face
– Nasal discharge
– Wobbly tooth
– Loss of tooth
Periodontal disease is not only catagorised by swollen gums and rotted teeth. It can cause very serious dental problems, which need to be treated immediately, such as:
– Abscess or fistulas, which can lead to the nasal cavity
– Bone infections
– Jaw fractures (causes by disintegration of the jaw bone)
Provide your dachshund with the following, and with your help, they can reduce the risk of periodontal disease, and live their life with a mouth of pearly whites. REMEMBER, prevention is the best form of combat when it comes to dental disease.
– Brush brush brush: One of the most effective ways to prevent dental disease is to brush your dachshunds teeth. This is best started at a young age, so that they can grow used to it. Each time you brush their teeth, you should use positive reinforcement, to teach them that this is an enjoyable experience. There are special dog friendly ‘finger brushes’ on the market, which are perfect for a dachshunds small mouth. You can even buy doggy toothpaste, which can come in all kinds of flavours e.g beef, chicken and cheese! DO NOT use human toothpaste, as many ingredients are poisonous to dogs (fluoride). If you have never brushed your dachshunds teeth before, you can start slowly and gradually, in order for them to get used to it. Start by covering your finger in something appealing to them (e.g beef stock), and gently rubbing their teeth with your finger. Do this once daily, until they are comfortable with it. Then you can gradually introduce a finger brush, which has been dipped in beef stock, and gently move the finger brush over your dachshunds teeth in a circular motion. Finally, when they are happy with this routine, you can introduce the dog friendly toothpaste. Unfortunately, brushing is their limit. They are not open to flossing!
– Nutritious diet: Feed your dachshund high quality dog foods, as this can be detrimental to their dental health. Dry dog foods are more effective in removing plaque from your dachshunds teeth, as they are used as an ‘abrasive’, each time they crunch the kibble. The higher amount of chewing the dry food will increase saliva production, and gum stimulation, as opposed to wet food. There are ‘dental health’ targeted dog food products on the market, but you should always consult your veterinarian about which is the most suitable for your dachshund. Including raw bones in your dachshunds diet is a great idea, but you must never give them cooked bones, as they can splinter, causing very serious problems.
– Dental chews: Daily dental chews can aid in the destruction of plaque and tartar, while stimulating the gums. Although, they should be used as a ‘treat’, to ensure that your dachshund does not go over their daily feeding limit.
– Regular veterinary examinations: Depending on your dachshunds age, 6-12 month check ups are advised. If your dachshund is suffering periodontal disease, the earlier it is treated, the better. Your vet can determine whether there are any underlying problems present. Treatment may come in the form of dental preventative medications (e.g supplements to aid in healthy mouth activity) , antibiotics, or a dental procedure under general anaesthetic.
– Stop damaging habits: Ensure your dachshund does not partake in any dangerous habits, which can cause problems to their dental health, and themselves. Damaging habits can include chewing stones, pebbles, sticks or any other hard objects, as these can cause the teeth to wear down, or become lodged in their airways.