Even if you brush your dog’s teeth, old age can cause dental decay. Fortunately, he can function without his molars with an adjusted diet.
How to care for a senior dog who’s losing his teeth
We all love our pets and hope they live well into their senior years, but as with every stage of life, your pet’s old age come with a unique set of challenges. Among these are the loss of his teeth, though dogs may experience tooth loss at any stage of life due to poor dental health or injury.
Between about 3 and 6 weeks old, puppies grow their milk teeth, so named because they do not need molars for chewing solid food this early in life. Around 4 months of age, puppies lose these teeth and grow their adult set, which should stay with them for the rest of their lives. Old age can wreak havoc on your pet’s dental health, however, and periodontal is the top cause of tooth loss in dogs. To help ward off dental disease, it is important to begin brushing your dog’s teeth from an early age. Invest in a toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for dogs and make brushing Fido’s teeth part of your daily routine, such as immediately following mealtime. You should also take your pet in for regular checkups, which should include an oral exam. Other common causes of tooth loss in dogs include injury, such as when a dog gets into a fight with another animal.
Signs that your dog is experiencing trouble with his teeth include bloody saliva, difficult eating his food and pawing at his mouth. If you notice your pet is spilling a lot of his kibble during mealtime or that his is drooling excessively, it is time to check for other signs of poor dental health. Look closely to see if his face or nose are swollen and check inside his mouth for inflamed or bleeding gums and bad breath. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pet to the vet immediately to address any pain in his mouth and diagnose the underlying cause. If he has an infected tooth, it is better to pull it than leave the offending fang in place to cause more pain for your pet.
Of course, most dogs who are missing teeth are not completely toothless. The amount of special care your companion will need depends on how many teeth he is missing. If your pet lacks a large number of his molars and pre-molars, his ability to chew food will be impacted significantly and you will need to adjust his diet so he is able to eat easily. In some cases, adding warm water and mashing up kibble will make it sufficiently easy to chew. For pets missing more of their teeth, you may need to switch their diets to strictly canned food. Avoid canned meat that is labeled as including gravy, as these types have larger chunks that may be hard for some pets to chew.
Even toothless pets need healthy mouths, so continue to brush your dog’s remaining teeth and gums. With proper tooth cleaning, regular checkups at the vet, and adjustments as he gets older, your pet can live a healthy life well into his senior years.