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Dental problems are particularly common in small dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, and Toy Poodles. These issues, if left untreated, can lead to serious health complications. This article provides an in-depth look at dental issues prevalent among small dogs, offering insights into their signs, treatment options, and prevention strategies.


Small dogs are predisposed to dental issues due to the conformation of their mouths and their longevity. These dogs often have overcrowded teeth, leading to increased plaque buildup and a higher incidence of periodontal disease. Regular dental care is crucial to prevent long-term health issues.

Signs and Symptoms of Dental Problems

Early Detection

Identifying dental issues early can prevent severe complications. Common signs include:

  • Bad Breath: One of the first signs of dental disease.
  • Difficulty Eating: Changes in eating habits or obvious discomfort while chewing.
  • Red, Swollen Gums: Indicates inflammation and possible infection.
  • Visible Tartar Buildup: Often seen as a brownish deposit near the gum line.
  • Loose or Missing Teeth: Advanced dental disease can lead to tooth loss.

Advanced Symptoms

As dental issues progress, symptoms can become more severe:

  • Pawing at the Mouth: Indicative of pain or irritation.
  • Drooling: May be more noticeable and could be tinged with blood.
  • Facial Swelling: Especially around the jaws or beneath the eyes, can indicate an abscess or serious infection.

Treatment for Dental Issues

Professional Dental Cleaning

Professional cleaning by a veterinarian is the cornerstone of dental treatment and involves:

  • Scaling: Removes tartar and plaque above and below the gum line.
  • Polishing: Smooths the teeth surfaces after scaling to discourage plaque formation.
  • Extractions: Severely diseased or loose teeth may need to be removed.

At-Home Care

Routine home care is vital and includes:

  • Regular Brushing: Daily brushing with dog-specific toothpaste helps reduce plaque buildup.
  • Dental Chews and Diets: Specially formulated to help reduce plaque and strengthen teeth.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Monitoring dental health during routine veterinary visits.


With regular dental care, the prognosis for small dogs with dental issues is excellent. Early detection and consistent treatment can prevent many of the complications associated with dental diseases.

Living with Dental Issues

Adjustments and Management

Living with a small dog with dental issues involves:

  • Dietary Adjustments: Soft foods may be necessary, especially after dental surgery or if most teeth are missing.
  • Pain Management: Appropriate pain relief during and after professional dental treatments.
  • Frequent Veterinary Visits: For ongoing assessment and treatment of dental health.

Choosing a Veterinarian

Selecting the right veterinarian for dental care is crucial, especially for small breeds with specific needs. Look for:

  • Dental Expertise: Vets with special training in dentistry.
  • Preventative Care Plans: Options for routine dental cleanings and check-ups.
  • Comprehensive Health Approach: Integration of dental care into overall health plans.


Dental health is a crucial aspect of overall wellness, especially in small dogs. Understanding and addressing dental issues early on can lead to a healthier, more comfortable life for your pet.

Further Reading

For more detailed information about dental care in small dogs and other related topics, consider the following resources:

  1. American Veterinary Medical Association
    • Provides a wealth of information on pet dental care, including tips for at-home dental care and the importance of professional cleanings.
  2. Vetstreet on Small Dog Dental Care
    • Offers insights into the unique dental care needs of small dogs and how to address them.
  3. PetMD Dental Health Center
    • Features articles on common dental problems in dogs, their signs, and treatment options.

Thank you for your interest in our Small Dog Dental Issues article. Be sure to check out the many comprehensive articles on our Dog Health Problems home page.

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