Shih Tzu Dental Care
As a popular dog breed known for its luxurious coat and adorable nature, the Shih Tzu has its share of flaws including dental issues. The breed is prone to dental problems where some cases can be serious and can even affect overall health and possibly lower the life span of your companion if left untreated.
Dental conditions can affect the entire body. The bacteria from the oral region can enter the bloodstream and affect the vital organs particularly the kidneys, liver, lungs and the heart.
When caring for your dog, it should include proper Shih Tzu dental care. An oral hygiene regimen that is started at an early age will protect the teeth from preventable issues as well as allowing you to detect those that trigger pain and discomfort later.
Remember that proper understanding of potential dental problems of a Shih Tzu and proper dental care can greatly improve their quality of life.
A Shih Tzu puppy will go through a teething period which starts around 5-6 weeks of age. The puppy will chew on anything to lessen the pressure building beneath the gum line.
Shih Tzus have 28 baby teeth that can be sharp. You can feel a slight pinch when the puppy delivers a playful bite. Over time, these teeth shed while eating or playing. Remember that the dog often swallows their baby teeth, thus you should not be alarmed if you cannot find any teeth.
The shedding starts at around 6-8 months of age. The adult teeth replace the baby teeth at this point with the molars being the last to appear.
An adult Shih Tzu will have 42 permanent teeth. Once all the adult teeth erupt, they should last for a lifetime, usually between 10-16 years. Sadly, this might be a challenge for the breed since they are susceptible to a variety of dental issues.
Common Dental Problems in Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is prone to various dental issues that you should be aware of.
There are instances when the baby teeth of a Shih Tzu will not fall out before a permanent tooth erupts. This is a common issue with the breed and might require removal by a veterinarian. A fold is usually created in the gums to allow the adult teeth to erupt while some dogs require tooth shortening or the placement of a special type of plate to ensure proper development of the adult teeth.
Retained teeth can occur in any breed but prevalent among small dogs including the Shih Tzu which is generally due to overcrowding.
In severe cases, the dog might end up with an abnormal bite, jaw joint irregularities or palate issues. These conditions trigger discomfort and might disrupt the ability of the dog to eat normally.
Close Look at Tartar and Plaque
Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to dental issues than others. Generally though, it all depends on the dental care they have been given as a puppy. If you have a Shih Tzu the breed has its share of dental problems such as plaque and tartar build up.
The gum like film that forms on your pets teeth after a meal is plaque’ It’s first element in the start of tooth decay starting.
It later combines with bacteria present in the mouth along with saliva and blood cells. After 24 hours, it mixes with the salts in the saliva and starts to solidify. Over time, it continues to build up and combine with the salts which turn into tartar.
When it comes to tartar, it develops once plaque solidifies and firmly adheres to the tooth. Over time, it wears down the tissues around the tooth.
Tartar is an issue of concern since it sticks to the tooth providing a rough surface where bacteria can grow. The presence of bacteria results in the inflammation of the gums that can lead to bleeding. The reddened, swollen gum is called gingivitis which can later progress to periodontal disease.
Tartar forms close to the gums and pushes them away from the roots of the tooth. If this continues, it can trigger pain. The bacteria in the mouth might be absorbed into the bloodstream and even reach the vital organs including the kidneys and the heart.
Dangers of Tooth and Gum Disease
The main diseases that must be prevented are periodontitis and gingivitis. Periodontitis is brought about by plaque and leftover food on the teeth and later causes a mixture of bacteria. Gingivitis is due to the inflammation of the gums. If these conditions become severe, your companion will start to lose some of its teeth.
There are some indications to watch out for in your dog to check for any potential issues. You should check for any sores or bumps on the gums. In case the gum bleeds if you touch them or seem to trigger pain or discomfort when touched, it is a sign of an issue.
The presence of a yellow crust forming on the teeth or some teeth start to fall out are signs of a big problem. Furthermore, if your dog starts to have difficulty with eating regular food, there might be an issue with the gums and teeth.
A Shih Tzu faces a higher risk for developing periodontal disease. This is due to hereditary factors and bodily structure specifically their short face. Dogs with short faces are likely to develop dental issues than the longer-snouted breeds.
Periodontal disease develops in 4 phases. Once your Shih Tzu starts to eat, plaque also begins to form on the teeth. Plaque is an adhesive film of residue and bacteria that can be removed with proper brushing using a good-quality toothpaste. Remember that plaque starts to form in just hours after eating.
If you fail to brush the plaque away as part of your Shih Tzu dental care, the minerals present in the saliva of your dog will mix with the plaque which solidifies it. This results in a cement-like porous substance that strongly adheres on the teeth or tartar. The porous exterior of tartar easily traps stains and causes the discoloration of the teeth. It also houses bacteria that increase the risk for infections and abscesses. Once tartar has formed, it cannot be removed easily. Generally, most veterinarians remove tartar buildup by scraping or scaling it from the teeth.
When tartar starts to build up, the signs of periodontal disease starts to develop.
Periodontal disease develops in this manner:
- Gingivitis. One of the distinctive signs of gingivitis is bad breath that can be accompanied by increasing redness and sensitivity of the gums.
- Early. The disease affects more than just the exposed teeth and gum line. The support tissues that connect the teeth to the jaw steadily weaken specifically the gums, root structures, jaw bone, and periodontal ligaments.
- Established. At this phase, there is around 50% loss of support tissues.
- Advanced. There is a significant loss of support tissues. The teeth become loose and start to fall out. The gums become sensitive while chewing can be painful.
Potential Danger of Dental Issues
Both dogs and cats suffering from periodontitis in the advanced phases are likely to end up with systemic diseases. Dogs with the condition might have changes in their liver, heart, and kidneys.
This is due to the infiltration of bacteria into the bloodstream. It later spreads all over the major organs of the body. Aside from the spread of infection, a dog might also show signs of anorexia.
Poor nutrition due to the pain while eating can compromise the immune system. This might manifest as behavioral changes such as poor energy, intolerance to physical activity and mood changes.
Early Prevention of Dental Issues
Maintaining an oral hygiene regimen can protect your Shih Tzu from dental issues. Aside from grooming, you should pay close attention to the oral health of your companion.
It is recommended to establish a routine with positive reinforcement and play time to make the nightly dental care enjoyable and natural for you and your dog.
You can start this routine as early as 5-6 weeks…which is the time when the baby teeth are erupting. At first, you should condition your dog to allow you to work on their mouth. Start by touching the teeth and gums, steadily rubbing in a gentle manner using soft gauze or a finger toothbrush.
The dog might start to accept this routine once you introduce a toothpaste that is specially formulated for dogs. Remember not to use human toothpaste since the ingredients include certain chemicals such as fluoride which is toxic to dogs.
Today, toothpaste for dogs are available in natural flavors such as chicken, beef or mint to make the oral routine a positive one for your companion.
Considerations in Selecting the Ideal Toothpaste for Your Shih Tzu Dental Care
Detrimental Effects of Human Toothpaste
Some owners make the mistake of using a human toothpaste. Remember that there are certain ingredients present in human toothpaste that can lead to poisoning among dogs especially toy breeds such as the Shih Tzu.
This chemical was initially used as an insecticide to eliminate bugs and as a poison to get rid of rodents. Although it sounds unbelievable, it is a by-product of the manufacturing process of copper, aluminum, and iron in various industries.
Based on studies, excessive intake of fluoride can result in serious health effects. Some of the effects include weakening of the teeth to the point where it crumbles away as well as damaging the nervous and musculoskeletal system.
Another harmful ingredient present in human toothpaste is xylitol. This component can lead to a significant drop in the blood sugar level and result in liver disease.
Toothpaste for Dogs
With the wide selection of dental care products for dogs in the market, it can be overwhelming to find the right one. Toothpaste for dogs have specialties and various flavors but there are main categories that you should be familiar with:
- Natural Toothpaste. This toothpaste includes ingredients such as aloe and chlorophyll to eliminate bacteria and freshen breath without any synthetic or harsh chemicals.
- Enzymatic Toothpaste. These products include glucose oxidase or a mix with another enzyme to clean both teeth and gums. Glucose oxidase produces a safe and potent reaction inside the mouth to create hydrogen peroxide that cleans teeth, eliminates bacteria, breaks up any plaque and whiten stains.
- Whitening Toothpaste. These are designed to remove stains from the porous surface of tartar while softening it for easier removal. The toothpaste might include enzymes or natural ingredients but often include more potent components that have specific dosing. Carefully read the instructions on the packaging if safe for puppies or small breeds.
Recommended Toothpastes for Your Shih Tzu
Whether you have a puppy or adult Shih Tzu, a regular oral care regimen is an advantage. Regular brushing with a good-quality toothpaste can keep the teeth clean and provide protection against dental issues.
In case you are starting an oral health regimen for your Shih Tzu, you might consider a dental kit which includes a toothbrush and toothpaste. There are also a variety of good-quality toothpastes that ensure effective cleaning of your Shih Tzu’s teeth.
Bluestem Dog Toothpaste and Toothbrush
For those who are starting on an oral care regimen, this dental kit will surely come in handy for your Shih Tzu. The kit includes a unique toothbrush along with a toothpaste formulated for small dog breeds.
The toothbrush has 2 bristle sets on its head which allow brushing both sides of the teeth at once. This ensures thorough cleaning without stress or discomfort for your dog. As for the toothpaste, it is safe for both small dogs and cats. The formula is free from any surfactants, detergents, alcohol, foaming agents and xylitol that is detrimental to health. Furthermore, it has a natural chicken flavor that will make your companion look forward to the cleaning sessions.
The only drawback is that it lacks a finger brush which is the best way to introduce your puppy to the oral care regimen.
As a well-known manufacturer for safe, healthy chews since 1955, this dental kit by Nylabone is a must-have item to start an oral care routine for your Shih Tzu. The product is Denta-C formulated with a blend of ingredients that can effectively lessen plaque. The kit includes a toothbrush with soft angled bristles for easy reach with nylon tips that can clean between teeth.
Your dog will have fresh breath while maintaining healthy teeth and gums. It also has a tasty peanut flavor that your companion will surely love.
This toothpaste set by The Arm & Hammer utilizes baking soda for effective cleaning and freshens breath at the same time. For owners who are starting an oral care regimen, this is a good investment since it includes a dual-headed toothbrush and finger brush.
This is a useful part of oral care to maintain healthy teeth. The powerful enzymes work by breaking down and preventing the buildup of tartar. Baking soda effectively cleans and deodorizes the teeth and gums while natural herbs soothe inflamed and sensitive gums. It also has a whitening effect on the teeth and appetizing chicken flavor to make the regimen stress-free for your dog.
Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste
If you want to keep the teeth and gums of your Shih Tzu in top shape, you might consider this enzymatic toothpaste. Throughout the years, Virbac has been the main choice when it comes to dental care products.
The toothpaste is specially formulated to be effective, safe and appealing to both dogs or cats. It contains the C.E.T. Dual Enzyme system that prevents the formation of plaque. It does not include any foaming agent and can be swallowed by your dog. There are a variety of flavors to choose from such as poultry, beef, vanilla-mint and seafood that are well-accepted by pets to make brushing an enjoying routine.
Sentry Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste
When dealing with the buildup of plaque and bad breath, this enzymatic toothpaste by Sentry is a good choice, especially with regular use. It is a veterinary-strength enzymatic formulation that effectively cleans both teeth and gums while freshens the breath.
The toothpaste has a tasty poultry flavor to ensure a hassle-free cleaning routine. Regular use can prevent bad breath as well as gum disease.
Well & Good Tartar Control Toothpaste for Dogs
When the time comes to include oral care in your dog’s regimen, this product is a good choice. With a peanut butter flavor, your companion will surely look forward to every brushing session and rinsing is no longer necessary.
The toothpaste can effectively prevent the formation of tartar while at the same time keeping the breath fresh. Regular use of this product aids in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Natural Dog Toothpaste
This Denta-C scientifically formulated toothpaste by Nylabone is an effective product to keep the teeth and gums of your Shin Tzu in top shape. The toothpaste boasts a combination of ingredients that are clinically proven to lessen plaque formation.
With its natural peanut flavor, your dog will surely enjoy the brushing session. It can effectively clean both teeth and gums to maintain good oral health while at the same time freshens breath.
Dental issues among Shih Tzus such as cavities and gum infections can be prevented. Remember that regular brushing of the teeth is an essential component of the oral care regimen that should be taken into consideration seriously.
As an owner, it is your responsibility to provide to all the needs of your companion including Shih Tzu dental care. With the selection of recommended dental kits or toothpaste for your Shih Tzu, you can start an early oral care routine to effectively maintain the overall health of your companion with clean teeth, healthy gums and fresh breath.
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