Health Issues

How Do I Tell If My Small Dog Has Dental Disease?

shutterstock_448660198Large and small dogs generally differ in the type of dental problem they encounter. While large breeds are more likely to suffer from a fractured tooth due to excessive chewing, toy breeds, on the other hand, are especially prone to gum recession, tartar formation, and eventual loss of teeth. As you can see, small dogs have some distinctive issues when it comes to their oral health, and a single kiss from these endearing little angels will surely alert you to the very first clue of dental disease – stinky breath (or halitosis).


Common Signs of Oral Health Problems


As soon as you become aware of any of the signs below, get in touch with your veterinarian for a complete examination.


  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty eating
  • Sore mouth
  • Pawing or rubbing the mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Dribbling
  • Yellow or brown tartar on the teeth
  • Loose teeth or loss of tooth


Not all small dog health problems like oral disease badly affect all tiny dog breeds. But anyone who thinks of getting a small pooch should be familiar of the more common problems that appear frequently in their kind. The good news is that toy breeds have longer life spans than their larger counterparts. The bad news, however, is that some health issues come about because of their small size and physical structure.


  • Crowded teeth. Popular toy breeds like Yorkies, Chihuahuas, and Toy Poodles are known for their winning, big personalities, but these small dogs have tiny mouths, and yet their teeth (when compared to their bigger friends) are relatively large. This makes for a truly very crowded oral cavity which in turn puts our little pooches at an obvious disadvantage from the get go. When all of those teeth are crowded into a small space, more crevices are present in which tartar can quickly build up resulting to gum and periodontal disease.
  • Persistent deciduous teeth. This means that these little pooches’ baby teeth don’t like to always fall out the way they should. While this is something relatively common in all breeds, in toy dogs, any tooth is basically a fair game. So, just take an already crowded mouth and then add in several more baby teeth that never fell out, and you surely will have gotten a grill of shark-like proportions!
  • Deformed permanent teeth. Misshapen crowns or roots often worsen the tartar buildup and periodontal disease. When the tooth roots are malformed, it is not unusual for these little furry friends of ours to develop endodontic disease or disease in the jaw bone surrounding the roots.


If you have a small dog breed (or are thinking of getting one), always bear in mind that they are particularly at risk of oral health issues. Ensure that your vet does a thorough dental examination and you visit the clinic to keep an eye on any emerging problems. Also, guarantee that as a responsible pet owner, you practice good oral health routines at home.


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