All dogs need dental care but especially little ones like Morkies. Their teeth are jammed together so food, plaque and tartar gather. Eventually that causes painful loose teeth, abscesses and failing teeth. So while you’re brushing your Morkie’s teeth here are some dental factoids to ponder.
How many teeth do dogs have?
We have 32 permanent teeth (plus 4 wisdom teeth). Puppies have 28 baby teeth; our babies have 20.
When do puppies lose their baby teeth?
By about 4 months, puppies have lost all their baby teeth and permanent teeth have begun to sprout. By 6 months, all their permanent teeth have appeared.
Teething is a tough time. One solution: cut an old washcloth in 4. Wet the pieces, twist them and freeze.
Do dogs regrown broken teeth?
Um, no. That’s sharks.
Can you tell how old a dog is from his teeth?
Um, no. That’s tree rings. But seriously, some vets claim they can look at the amount of wear on an adult dog’s teeth to guesstimate his age.
Do dogs get cavities?
Rarely, although it can happen. Dogs are much more likely to chip or break teeth, chewing on something too hard (deer antlers anyone?) or from an injury.
Broken or fractured teeth need Veterinarian care right away. The pulpy part of the tooth, when exposed, is a direct line for deadly germs to travel into the blood stream. Plus, your Morkie likely has lots of pain from a broken off or fractured tooth. Sometimes there are no symptoms, other itms you’ll see things like:
Flinching when the mouth or tooth is touched
Trouble eating or refusing to eat
Chewing only on one side of the mouth
Does kibble help a dog’s teeth? What about treats like chew sticks, biscuits and “greenies”?
There’s a lot of controversy among experts around the benefits of kibble for your dog’s teeth. On one hand, there is some abrasion involved in eating kibble, especially compared to a diet of soft canned food. Fact is, kibble is loaded with carbs, so they can actually increase plaque and tartar levels… and cause more dental problems than they supposedly prevent.
Rawhide chew sticks, or manufactured sticks like Nutro Treats or Blue Buffalo chews, are recalled so often for salmonella among other dangers, that I avoid them altogether. They’re just nasty.
Some gels, sprays, special chews like the green mini toothbrush – can’t hurt, don’t count on them as the only solution to doggy dental woes.
How can I tell if my dog has tooth decay or problems?
In a word, ok two words: bad breath.
Discoloured teeth, especially at the gum line, and horrible doggy breath, are two signs your Morkie needs a professional scaling and cleaning of his teeth.
But there’s actually one more key thing if you want your Morkie to have a long and healthy life, and that’s look after his teeth. That includes brushing and regular dental care.
What’s so important about dental care for dogs?
When bacteria builds up on you dog’s teeth it can lead to oral disease and increase the risk for disease in organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys, according to research.
That’s because the bacteria can make its way into the bloodstream and travel throughout their little bodies.
And like humans, dogs can get cavities and painful abscesses. They just can’t tell us about it 🙁
Why are Morkie’s teeth so bad?
An extreme example of bad teeth – rotting, covered in plaque
Any dogs that have been bred down in size usually have very tightly packed teeth, too many for the small jaw. Dogs should have quite a bit of space between teeth so food doesn’t get caught and then rot.
Yorkies are renowned for very, very bad teeth – so weak and crammed in that most of their teeth have some level of decay by the age of 2.
And, they have VERY stinky breath as a result.
The 3 Ds of tooth care for your Morkie
I like to call the solution the 3 Ds:
The First D: Daily Cleaning
You can brush your dog’s teeth with special canine toothpaste (NEVER use people paste – it’s poisonous and your dog is more than likely going to swallow it)
Don’t be too ambitious at first. Gently lift his lip and rub in circular motions along the gum line with a very soft brush, or a finger brush:
Your dog won’t like it much, so keep the first sessions short, gradually doing a more thorough job as he’s more comfortable.
Sprays, Gels and Wipes?
Some dog owners and experts recommend using the new oral sprays and gels in combination. Two popular brands are Petzlife and Plaque Attack.
They work in similar ways – both are advertised as made with 100% natural ingredients. The main ingredient is grapefruit seed extract so it’s safe for both cats and dogs..
The ingredients mix with your pet’s saliva and completely coat your pet’s teeth and mouth. This kills harmful bacteria and loosens plaque and tartar.
The results will depend on how closely you follow the directions, the age of your pet, and the current condition of your Morkie’s teeth. You should notice a gradual reduction of tartar and plaque between the tooth and the gum line and less redness within the first few weeks of application.
The Second D: Dentistry
Dog dentistry was quite rare until the 1980s, when Veterinarians and dog owners began to make the connection between dental health and the dog’s overall health.
Reasons for dentistry for your dog:
Scaling and Cleaning – If you don’t clean your dog’s teeth, chances are you’ll have to get his teeth scaled at some point to remove the extreme buildup; that means anesthetic and a fairly large expense.
If you’re cleaning your Morkie’s teeth regularly, this scaling can sometimes be done without putting the dog under – reducing risks and keeping your dog more calm. Dental fractures – very common in dogs, and must be treated right away if the tooth’s pulp is exposed. This exposed pulp is not only very painful, but also becomes dead tissue (or necrotic as scientists call it). This in turn can lead to a very painful “tooth abscess” making a root canal necessary.
The most common kinds of oral surgeries for dogs are:
extractions – unfortunately not all teeth can be saved and extraction is often the only choice. At least techniques have improved to minimize the pain and discomfort.
jaw fracture repair – this is a fairly common injury after a major traumatic event like a car accident. Again, new techniques have speeded our pets’ progress and comfort.
oral tumour management – sadly, the same type of oral cancer that frequently occurs in people, is also the most common type in the dog. Watch for lesions, sores, masses or swellings in your Morkie’s mouth and report any to the Vet right away.
The 3rd D: Diet
There are two interesting – and opposite – schools of thought on how your dog’s diet can help his dental health.
The 2 points of view about dog food: an it help clean your dog’s teeth or not?
For the YES side…
some experts believe that certain foods work a bit like a toothbrush because they help “rub” the teeth clean
this cleaning action is sometimes called ‘natural dietary abrasion’
when your dog grinds, chews, grips, chomps and rips its food it helps the teeth, gums and jaw
Dogs who eat lots of soft foods don’t benefit from natural dietary abrasion. Soft foods include canned food, and also home-made food that’s well cooked. Dogs on soft diets can end up with worse teeth and gums that dogs on natural, meaty, and raw diets.
Unfortunately there are no dentures for dogs.
Some of the best foods for cleaning your dog’s teeth? Raw meaty bones are excellent toothbrushes. Please note: these bones must be RAW. Make sure there is still some meat on the bone. Try raw chicken necks, turkey necks and chicken wings.
These bones are generally considered safe and digestible for most dogs. However, uncooked meat can carry bacteria that can be hazardous to both pets and humans. So, use caution and common sense when handling raw bones.
NEVER GIVE YOUR DOG COOKED BONES – they splinter easily and can perforate intestines and worse.
Rawhide and leather chews are often recommended, but I’m strongly against these now. They’re full of deadly bacteria, and when they get slimy after some chewing, they are a serious choking hazard.
On the NO Side….
On the other side, there’s “Dry Dog Food and the Myth of Cleaner Teeth.” One expert, Mike Sagman of the DogFoodAdvisor.com site comments,
“Imagine going to your dentist and being told to forget your toothbrush. Because all you really need for good dental health… is to simply eat a few crunchy tortilla chips every day.
And like magic… your teeth will be sparkling clean. Sound absurd? Well, yes it is!”
As Mike points out, there are three kinds of dental debris…
Tartar – a result of plaque
Drinking water gets rid of most food particles; dogs’ teeth are spaced so far apart it they don’t usually trap food.
Plaque — the sticky biofilm that adheres tightly to every tooth surface –requires physical scrubbing to remove it. And once cleaned away… plaque returns again within just 24 hours. Left along the gum line long enough, plaque slowly and inevitably turns into a rock-hard, barnacle-like crust referred to as tartar.
Plaque is what you remove with your toothbrush. Tartar is the hard stuff your dentist scrapes away when you get your teeth cleaned. What kibble does for teeth
While crunchy kibble can remove some of the plaque near the tops of a dog’s teeth, it’s completely ineffective within the critical zone near the gum line. And that’s where plaque and tartar do their ultimate damage… causing cavities and gum disease.
Therefore: Dry dog food does not help create healthier teeth and gums
In fact, since most kibbles are loaded with a much higher carbohydrate content… dry dog foods may actually increase plaque and tartar levels… and cause more dental problems than they supposedly prevent. It’s OK to pick dry kibble over canned food, but don’t choose it because you believe it’s better for your dog’s teeth.
brushing your Morkie’s teeth daily is the single best way to care for his pearly whites. Can’t do daily? Even once a week – make it say, every Saturday – and do a thorough job.
watch for tartar build up and get it removed by your Veterinarian, sooner than later. At the same time, your Vet will look for decayed or loose teeth.
although gels, sprays, special chews like the green mini toothbrush – can’t hurt, don’t count on them as the only solution
Time to talk teeth, before February is over because it’s National Pet Dental Month.
Why are your Morkie’s teeth so important? Like you, she gets just one adult set, and she needs them to eat properly, to grind and tear her food for good digestion.
And also like you, your Morkie can suffer from cavities and painful abscesses. More serious dental problems like gum disease can lead to chronic pain, missing teeth, eroded gums and even bone loss.
Signs of dental distress
stinky dog breath
red swollen gums
Dogs can’t tell us they have a toothache, so it can be hard to spot dental disease until it’s quite advanced.
It’s worse than just doggy breath
Left untreated, dental disease can lead to devastating results. Dogs with unchecked gum inflammation may be at higher risk for heart, kidney, and liver disease. That’s because bacteria from the mouth constantly enters the blood stream and can cling to to the arteries surrounding the heart and other organs.
A big problem for small dogs
Gum disease is 5X more common in dogs that humans. One reason why is because a dog’s mouth is much more alkaline than ours, which encourages plaque to form quickly.
And like their parent Yorkie and Maltese dogs, Morkies have very small jaws, with teeth very close together, often jammed in. That gives food particles good hiding places to turn into bacteria, tartar and plaque.
Stop the cycle before it begins
As you can see from the diagram below, it’s easy to stop plaque, tartar and gum disease and tooth decay with regular brushing.
As the teeth grind up food, debris accumulates on the tooth surface and attracts bacteria. This build up of food fragments and bacteria is called plaque. Plaque can be brushed away when it’s done regularly.
But if plaque isn’t brushed away, mineral deposits cause it to harden on the teeth. This is called tartar.Tarter can be spotted as dark yellow or brown accumulations on the teeth. It’s very difficult to remove; in fact, your Vet must remove it with dental treatment.If left untreated, plaque can lead to damage of the gums (gingivitis) or the jawbones and teeth (periodontitis).
Next to ear problems tartar and gingivitis are the most common reasons dogs are seen by Veterinarians.
Your goal is to clean the plaque off your dog’s teeth, so that it doesn’t build up and become tartar. Daily brushing will do the trick!
Well apparently they don’t according to a recent survey, despite the fact that we all know it’s a good idea. In fact if you’ve had a bill for dental services from your vet, you know it’s a great idea!
And doggie breath can be absolutely life-threatening too. According to the popular website Dogster.com “doggie breath” is NOT “normal”. It’s a sign that there’s an infection in your dog’s mouth, which can easily spread through the bloodstream to the heart, lungs, or kidneys, where it can literally kill your dog.
The 3 top reasons for not brushing your dog’s teeth:
I’m afraid i’ll get bitten
my dog hates it
Here’s how to make it easier to brush your Morkie’s teeth
First take it slow and don’t get stressed out. Your dog will sense it and stress too.Try for twice a week at first and see if you can eventually up that to daily.
Don’t expect to do a thorough job the first, second or even the fifth time. Just take it nice and easy.
Let your Morkie keep his jaws shut while you brush, until she’s more comfortable with the process – this could take a couple of weeks.
This great YouTube video shows you how:
Use the right stuff
NO PEOPLE TOOTHPASTE… unless you yourself use chicken-flavoured canine paste. An alternative is Virgin Coconut Oil (called VGO in health food stores). It’s antibacterial, antiviral, and works really well to maintain oral health. And who doesn’t love coconut?
A small rubber ‘finger brush’ is ideal or get a dog toothbrush for tiny breeds. Here’s a regular brush or a set of finger brushes you can order from Amazon.com:
If your Morkie eventually LIKES having his teeth brushed (hey it’s all attention, right) then you won’t be bitten. And what’s more disgusting that messing around in a dog’s mouth? Seeing horrible, discoloured dog teeth that stink 🙁 So give it a try – it’s REALLY important
What about dental sprays you read about, like Plaque Attack?
Experts are divided on this one. Owners who have tried these products seem to like them. Plack Attack Spray for example, has earned 4 out of 5 stars in Amazon reviews by 188 customers. Not bad.
However products like this get a big thumbs-down on DoesItReallyWork.org They suggest there are other options that DO work (brushing).
Since the product is 100% natural and the main ingredient being grapefruit seed extract so it’s safe enough although the product site says your dog might have a little bit of diarrhea simply because this is a ‘change in diet.’
How effective is hard to say – best way to tell is your own eyes. How do your Morkie’s teeth look after a few weeks? (I always find it’s a good idea to take a quick picture before and after to compare, so I’m not relying on my own memory as to how it looked).
My Morkie eats kibble. Isn’t that enough to keep her teeth clean?
I dunno; you eat potato chips. Does that keep your teeth clean?
Really, it’s just as crazy. Crispy or hard food cannot remove the film that collects on teeth as we eat.
That film in turn causes the tartar and plaque build up. So you need a true brushing to get it off, along with professional cleaning for your dog every couple of years (provided your Morkie’s teeth are in good shape in between – otherwise it could be more often).