Pet Wellness Guides > Tips for Optimal Dog Oral Health - Pet Insurance Review

Tips for Optimal Dog Oral Health

Posted: 05/20/2024 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care

Think bad breath is just a doggy fact? Think again. The American Veterinary Dental College estimates that most dogs have signs of periodontal disease by age three. This serious condition, often masked by unnoticed bad breath, can lead to a cascade of health problems for your furry friend. From tooth loss and painful abscesses to systemic infections and even heart disease, neglecting dog oral health can have devastating consequences. 

Let’s explore how poor canine oral health impacts your pup’s overall health and tips on how to keep your dog’s mouth healthy so you can avoid these issues altogether.

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How Poor Oral Health Leads to Other Health Issues

Beyond the unpleasant odor, neglecting your dog’s oral hygiene can have serious consequences for their overall health. Let’s delve into some of the hidden dangers associated with untreated dental disease:

Jaw Fractures

It might sound surprising, but dental disease can lead to fractured jaws in some dogs. This is especially true for smaller breeds with proportionally larger teeth, like Chihuahuas, Maltese, and Shih Tzus. Chronic infections and gum disease weaken the jawbone, making something as simple as jumping off the couch or chewing kibble a potential cause of fracture.

Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Studies by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association suggest a link between periodontal disease and heart diseases like endocarditis, a potentially fatal infection of the heart lining. Dogs with advanced gum disease face a six times higher risk of endocarditis compared to healthy dogs. While the exact reason remains unclear, the two conditions often co-occur, and the bacteria found in endocarditis matches those present in periodontal disease.

Pain and Discomfort

Dogs are adept at hiding pain, but dental disease can cause significant discomfort. They might avoid chewing on the affected side, favoring wet food over kibble. This pain can worsen, leading to secondary infections. While occasional pain might come from a broken tooth or a lodged object, chronic pain from dental disease can significantly impact their quality of life and even trigger behavioral changes like aggression or depression.

Rapid Weight Loss

As dental disease progresses, eating becomes increasingly difficult for your dog. They might lose interest in food altogether due to the pain associated with chewing. This rapid weight loss can lead to a cascade of issues. Without proper nutrition, their bodies lack the essential nutrients to function properly. This weakens their immune system, making them more susceptible to further infections and diseases.

Promotes Inflammation

Dental infections create an environment teeming with bacteria, triggering the immune system and causing inflammation. This inflammatory response aims to kill bacteria but can also damage healthy tissue in the process. Severe dental disease leads to more inflammation, increasing the risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream and spreading to other organs, causing infections and complications throughout the body.

Keeping Your Dog’s Smile Sparkling: A Guide to Optimal Dog Oral Health

Just like humans, dogs require proper oral hygiene to maintain overall health. While brushing your dog’s teeth might seem like an unusual task, it’s a crucial step in preventing plaque buildup and dental disease. This guide explores various methods to keep your furry friend’s smile healthy and bright, from daily routines to professional cleanings.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

This method offers the most thorough cleaning. Remember, use dog-specific toothpaste formulated with safe, tasty flavors like chicken or peanut butter. Choose a dog toothbrush or fingertip brush based on your dog’s comfort level and your preference.

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Dog Dental Treats

Many pet owners find dental treats a more enjoyable option for their dogs. These treats are designed to remove plaque buildup and freshen breath while satisfying your dog’s cravings. They come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors, ensuring you find something your dog loves.

Dog Chews

Chewing inherently benefits your dog’s oral health. The act of gnawing scrapes away plaque, and many all-natural chews contain enzymes that promote dental health. Consider options like cow ears, bully sticks, or chicken strips. Alternatively, long-lasting nylon or rubber chews provide a calorie-free alternative.

Stay away from rawhide chews! While they may seem like a long-lasting option, they can pose a choking hazard or digestive blockage for dogs, especially aggressive chewers. Consider safer alternatives like dental treats or rubber chews to promote your dog’s dental health.

Professional Cleanings

For the most comprehensive dental care, schedule professional cleanings with your veterinarian. Veterinary professionals can address existing issues, prevent future problems, and ensure your dog’s oral health remains optimal. While more expensive than other methods, professional cleanings offer a vital safeguard for your dog’s well-being.

Remember, consistency is key! Regularly implementing these methods will keep your dog’s mouth healthy and prevent potential health complications down the road.

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Does Pet Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Cleanings?

Dental coverage in pet insurance varies by plan. Most standard pet insurance won’t cover routine dental cleanings, but may reimburse you for dental procedures caused by accidents or illnesses. Some insurers offer optional add-on plans that specifically cover preventive care, including dental cleanings. It’s important to carefully review your pet insurance policy or contact your provider to determine what dental care is covered.

If you’re interested in enrolling your fur baby into a pet health insurance plan, here are the top pet insurance providers – in order – based on over 150,000 authentic reviews from pet parents just like you:


Top Pet Insurance Providers of 2024

RatingProviderTotal Review
4.9Healthy Paws7,485
4.8Prudent Pet125
4.5Pets Best7,200
4.3Pet Assure12







The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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