Look at your sweet doggie ... cutest face ever, right? But what about their smile? Are you noticing (gulp!) yellow dog teeth?
Many dog parents wonder if yellowing of the teeth is normal or if it's a sign of unhealthy dog teeth. Rather than chase your tail, keep reading for everything you need to know about the causes of yellow dog teeth.
Dog Teeth Yellow? Here's What's Normal.
A healthy dog should have white- or cream-colored teeth. The exact color of your dog’s teeth can be influenced by the natural shade of their enamel, the thickness of their enamel, and the enamel’s translucency. Whatever the color of their adult teeth when they first erupted is the color they should stay. The teeth should be tightly hugged by their gum tissue, which should be a shiny, light-pink color (think bubblegum).
Any dog tooth that isn’t white or creamy is considered discolored and should be discussed with your vet. Many conditions that cause grey, brown or yellow dog teeth are accompanied by pain. Because dogs naturally hide pain, even the most doting dog parents often aren’t aware of a problem until it gets to be more serious and costly.
Are yellow dog teeth part of the aging process?
Dog teeth and yellow stains aren’t necessarily a cause for panic. For instance, with older dogs, their teeth can naturally begin to yellow with age. That’s because their teeth have gotten a lot of use in their lives (chewing on food, toys, and your favorite pair of shoes!), which can wear away the enamel.
Enamel is the white, hard, outermost layer of a tooth. Just like a human tooth, underneath the enamel of a dog tooth is the dentin. Dentin is yellow in color. Dog teeth have a lot less enamel compared to a human tooth: 0.1– 1 mm. versus 2.5 mm for human teeth. Therefore, a dog’s teeth may naturally look more yellow with age because the dentin is exposed sooner.
Causes of Yellow Dog Teeth
Dental health is a big deal for our sweet furballs. If their teeth are in poor shape, it can affect their ability to play and eat ... and if you have a food-motivated dog, you know this is one of their great joys in life! So if you notice yellow dog teeth, it’s a good idea to get your pet to the vet for a checkup, as it could be anything from basic staining to gum disease. While your vet can help you determine the exact cause of your pooch’s yellow teeth, here are the main causes:
An antibiotic called tetracycline, used to treat bacterial infections, can lead to permanent changes in a dog’s tooth color, as substances in the antibiotic attach to the calcium in the teeth. The result is dog teeth with yellow stains or sometimes brown stains. A female dog can also pass on yellow teeth to her pups if she received tetracycline while pregnant.
This condition occurs when the outer layer of the enamel fails to develop properly. It can have a variety of causes, from tooth injury to poor nutrition, viral diseases (like distemper) to hereditary conditions. Keep in mind, if your dog has enamel hypoplasia, they’ll be more prone to plaque and tartar accumulation, which can also lead to dog teeth that are yellow.
Poor Oral Hygiene
If you notice your dog’s pearly whites becoming yellow, the most common culprit is plaque buildup on the teeth. Plaque is the starting point for unhealthy dog teeth and can lead to problems like tartar and gum disease.
Important: gum disease isn’t one of those rare conditions to brush off, thinking it won’t happen to your pet. The stark reality is that 8 in 10 dogs will have gum disease by age 3.
If dog yellow teeth staining is uniform and smooth, there’s a good chance you’ve caught plaque in the early stage of gum disease. (There are four stages of periodontal disease in pets.) In this early stage, you can do dog teeth cleaning without anesthesia right at home with plaque-fighting oral care products. Yes, removing plaque from your dog’s teeth is easy if you can commit to a regular dental routine (more on that later).
But once plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus), that’s when a pet’s smile can really go south. Tartar is darker yellow, brown, orange or black in color, and you’ll likely see reddening of the gums too. That’s because tartar is filled with harmful bacteria that work their way under the gum line, infecting them and eating away at a tooth’s supporting structures, leading to eventual tooth loss. Tartar buildup requires a professional dental cleaning under sedation, as it's too rock-hard to remove at home. (No veterinarian is going to recommend dog teeth cleaning without anesthesia if there is heavy tartar buildup, as this requires sharp scaling tools and dogs aren't exactly known for sitting still!)
Signs of Gum Disease in Dogs
- Thick layer of tartar on dog teeth
- Dog teeth are yellow
- Bad dog breath
- Red inflamed gums
- Sensitivity to being touched around the mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing at the mouth
- Difficulty eating
Can Bones & Treats Fix Dog Yellow Teeth?
Raw bones are a great way to fight plaque. They have natural enzymes to do the job and act as nature’s "floss" for the teeth, helping to naturally whiten them. BUT ... chances are your dog isn’t gnawing a raw bone every day. And let’s be honest: raw bones can be MESSY! Plus, if your pooch already has unhealthy dog teeth from gum disease, bones can be too hard and cause tooth fractures. Same with chews and toys: make sure they are not too hard for your pet’s teeth. Bottom line: use dental chews, treats and raw bones as a supplement to a dental routine and not the sole way of caring for your dog’s teeth.
Dog Toothbrush and Toothpaste: The Gold Standard for White Dog Teeth
Using a dog toothbrush and toothpaste is the (white)gold standard for keeping dogs’ teeth clean, free of plaque, and protected against the dangers of gum disease. Just don’t use your own toothpaste on your dog! Ingredients in human toothpaste like fluoride and xylitol can make pets sick.
Additionally, be wary of dog toothpastes with flavors. Most dogs don’t like the taste of mint, fake poultry, clove and other odd flavors. And baking soda not only tastes unappetizing but can cause an upset stomach in dogs. You’ll want to roll with a dog toothpaste that’s flavor free.
As for the dog toothbrush, a finger brush (slips on right over the finger) is a popular choice compared to a traditional handled toothbrush because it’s easier to maneuver in the mouth and reach the back molars, where plaque and tartar are most problematic. Finger brushes are especially helpful when brushing the teeth of small or toy breeds or senior pups. To become a brushing aficionado, read: Why a Dog Toothbrush Is a Dog’s Best Friend in Dental Care.
Say howlo to the best dog toothbrush and toothpaste
Only Oxyfresh dog toothpaste is formulated with proprietary Oxygene®, a gentle, non-toxic oxidizer that breaks through biofilm (plaque) and eliminates the bacteria that cause bad dog breath. It does this instantly – no waiting around for enzymes to kick in!
Plus, it’s fortified with soothing aloe to help strengthen and soothe tender dog gums. Best of all, no stinging alcohol and no fussy flavors so your dog won’t run away when they see you coming with the dog toothbrush and toothpaste!
If you love saving money almost as much as you love your dog (impossible!), be sure to get your paws on Oxyfresh’s Pet Toothpaste + Finger Brush Kit featuring 1 (4 oz.) tube of flavor-free dog toothpaste plus a reusable, dishwasher-safe, soft silicone finger brush. It feels sooo good on doggies’ gums! This kit is the ultimate defense against yellow dog teeth, smelly dog breath and costly dental bills. Guaranteed your dog will love it!
How often to brush dog teeth
To make your efforts pay off, you’ll want to brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week. Ideally, you’d brush every day, but hey, we all get busy! On the off days, supplementing with a dental spray or water additive can be very helpful in keeping your dog’s breath fresh and their teeth free of plaque.
Tips to make using a dog toothbrush & toothpaste easier
- Apply the toothpaste to a finger brush ... it’s less stressful for dogs and easier to maneuver in the mouth than a toothbrush.
- Start out brushing for only a few seconds. You can increase your time each session as you (and your dog) get the hang of brushing.
- Focus on the outside tooth surfaces, especially along the gum line. This is where plaque and tartar accumulate.
- Brush after a long walk or play session so your dog will be calmer.
- Treat your dog after you brush (even if it didn’t go well) so your dog will develop a positive association with toothbrushing.
Cheers to getting your dog on the path to a pearly white smile, with a little help from Oxyfresh Pet Toothpaste + Finger Brush Kit. C’mon, look at that face ... they’re so worth it!