Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help. See your veterinarian for advice suited specifically to your dog.

If you’re like most pet parents, you probably think your dog’s stinky breath is normal, so you ignore it. But doggy breath is an indication of infection that can be deadly if left untreated.

Dental disease is one of the most widespread issues plaguing dogs today—in fact, roughly 90% of dogs will have some degree of dental disease by the time they are just three years old, and often it arises even earlier. PetMD says neglecting dental care is the #2 cause of earlier death in our dogs.

We talked to one of the world’s leading pet dentists, Dr. Brook Niemiec, who is shedding light on why dental disease is so prevalent and what you need to be asking your vet about your pet’s oral health.

sundownteethbefore
Sundown has a red line between the tooth and the gum as well as layers of brown tartar build-up, classic signs of stage-one gingivitis.

Dental disease in dogs is unfortunately quite common. In fact, a vast majority (upwards of 85 percent) of dogs will develop dental disease in their lifetime, and most by the time they are three-years-old.

We have been aware of this sobering fact since Yellow Dog was a wee-one of five months. We constantly check Yellow’s teeth and offer bully sticks often to keep his teeth healthy. This vigilance has worked for Yellow but sometimes genetics play a role; this has been the case for Yellow’s brother, Sundown, who currently has stage-one gingivitis, which is characterized by tartar build-up on the upper-rear teeth and minor inflammation at the gum line.