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Older German Shepherds And Dental Issues. The Impact of Bad Teeth and Gums Goes Beyond The Mouth

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Dental issues can be a problem for older German Shepherds, and the effects of poor oral care can be felt throughout the entire body. Like us, as our German Shepherds age, their teeth may start to wear down and decay, and gums may not be as healthy as they once were, which can lead to pain, infection, loss of teeth, and other health problems which can be life-threatening. Prevention is key, but sometimes you can do everything right, and your frosty-muzzled fur friend can still suffer from dental issues.

If you have an older German Shepherd, it's important to look for signs of dental issues and take the steps necessary to correct them as soon as possible. In this #lifewitholddogs® blog post, we'll discuss common dental problems of older German Shepherds and offer tips for treating and preventing them.

What are the most common dental issues in older German Shepherds?

  • Plaque: Plaque is caused by food and bacteria that build up on teeth over time if the teeth are not brushed regularly.

  • Tartar: Tartar is what happens when plaque is not removed regularly from teeth. The plaque then mixes with saliva and forms a hard deposit on the teeth that needs to be scrapped or chipped off with special dental tools. Basically, all the food particles and bacteria that are not removed regularly solidify to the teeth creating an encasing of toxins and stench that your fur friend then lives with day in and day out. Yuck!

  • Gingivitis: is an irritation and inflammation of the gums caused by plaque, bacteria, and toxins that get under the gums. The gums can become so infected with Gingivitis that they may become painful and bleed. Gingivitis is an early stage of Periodontal disease.

  • Root Abscess is caused by bacteria entering an exposed root canal of a tooth. The root canal may be exposed because of severe tooth decay or because of a chipped or broken tooth.

  • Periodontal Disease: This is the most common disease in dogs, with an estimated 90% of dogs having some degree of periodontal disease before they are five years old. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria build-up that slowly destroys your fur friend's teeth, gums, and even the bones supporting the mouth, such as the jaw. Periodontal disease can be painful and cause a host of problems, which can become life-threatening.

There are four stages of Periodontal disease, which are: 1) Gingivitis, 2) About 25% of teeth and bone loss, 3) 25 - 50% of tooth and bone loss, 4) More than half of all teeth are loose or missing.

Stage one, Gingivitis, is the only stage of periodontal disease that is reversible and stages two and three can be maintained so they don't progress to the final stage.

  • Loss of teeth: Is caused by periodontal disease or trauma

What are the signs of dental Issues in older German Shepherds?

  • Bad breath

  • Drooling

  • Reluctant to eat

  • Can't chew when eating

  • Reluctant to play with toys

  • Weight loss

  • Rubbing mouth with a paw or against another object

  • Tooth discoloration

  • Tartar

  • Gums that are red, irritated, swollen, and perhaps bleeding

  • Missing teeth

  • Discharge from the nose and possibly eye

  • Facial swelling

  • Being snappish or aggressive

  • Visibly sick

How are Dental Issues Diagnosed?

Your trusted veterinarian will perform a complete dental exam, which most likely means that your older German Shepherd must undergo anesthesia. At that point, your vet will visually inspect the teeth and gums, perform X-rays if needed, and check for bone loss. She may even perform the dental work needed at this time.

What happens if you ignore dental issues in your older German Shepherds?

Our older German Shepherds are no different than us in the sense that if we have bad teeth or infected gums, it hurts, and if we let it go, it manifests into bigger problems that can make us unwell and make our lives miserable. The problems can range from tooth and jaw pain and deterioration, tooth abscesses, sinus infections, eyesight issues, abscesses on the face, cancer, and organ damage that can be life-threatening. So as you can see, dental issues are no joke and need to be addressed if you want your older German Shepherd to live his best life at all times.

Steps to prevent dental issues in older German Shepherds:

  • Brush your dog's teeth daily with a soft bristle brush, silicone finger brush, and canine specified toothpaste.

  • Kibble (high quality, of course) is a natural way to scrape any tartar build-up off teeth as your dog eats.

  • Give your dog something appropriate to chew on but make sure it is approved by Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) because not all chew toys are suitable for your dog's teeth.

  • Regular check-ups are your best defense in maintaining healthy teeth and gums in your dog as they age. Check-ups may include professional cleaning, scaling of teeth and gums, and X Rays.

You can find dental care products we use on our Amazon Preferred Product list. This is not a donation list for us. This is a list of products we use for the older German Shepherd residents here at the sanctuary. To check it out, click on the link. => => =.

I hope this blog post has been informative and helped you understand the importance of oral care in your older German Shepherd.

Regular brushing is important for maintaining good dental health, so it is recommended that you get your German Shepherd used to brushing at an early age if possible. Furthermore, If your older German Shepherd needs professional help or more advanced treatment such as a cleaning procedure which should be done once a year, or advanced gum care, be sure to visit your trusted veterinarian. And remember that regular tooth and gum cleanings can prevent future problems from developing, saving your older German Shepherd from suffering and you from shelling out a ton of money in the long run.

***** BONUS*******

You don't have to run out to buy toothpaste for your dog, although you can if you choose. Instead, you can make doggy toothpaste with all-natural ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Get the recipe here => => =>

1/4 cup of unrefined, cold-processed, organic coconut oil

3 tablespoons of baking soda (abrasive & deodorizes)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon (abrasive & for taste)

Soften coconut oil but do not melt it into a liquid, then mix in other ingredients. Cover and keep at room temperature. Use daily.


If you are wondering if dental issues are covered under pet insurance, or about pet insurance altogether, check out this article, "Top 9 Best Pet Insurance Companies".

***** Disclaimer: Throughout the "20 Most Common Health Issues in Senior German Shepherds" series, each blog post is expressed explicitly from our point of view and is not to be substituted for the professional medical expertise of your trusted veterinarian.

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