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

Updated: Apr 10

Dental issues can be a problem for senior 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 a senior German Shepherd, it's important to be on the lookout 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 senior German Shepherds and offer tips for treating and preventing them.

What are the most common dental issues in Senior 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 then forms a hard deposit on the teeth that then 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 do progress to the final stage.

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

What are the signs of dental Issues in senior 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 senior German Shepherd will have to undergo anesthesia. At that point, your vet will do a visual inspection of 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 dental issues are ignored?

Our fur friends are no different than us in 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 pain, jaw pain and deterioration, tooth abscess, to sinus infections, to eyesight issues, to abscesses on the face, to 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 fur friend to be living his best life at all times.

Steps to prevent dental issues in senior German Shepherds:

  • Brush your fur friend's teeth daily