A new large-scale study of canine veterinary health records in the US reveals what many dog owners might be aware of already…very small dogs can have very big dental health issues.

The study, published in The Veterinary Journal, looked at 3 million canine veterinary health records across 60 dog breeds and found that extra-small dogs (under 14 pounds) are 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with periodontal disease (PD) than the largest dog breeds.

The data shows that dogs classified as very small or small (under 14 to under 20 pounds) and medium-small (20 to 30 pounds) are the most likely of all sizes of dogs to be diagnosed with periodontal disease.

The researchers identified other risk factors for PD, including:

  • Older age
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of regular dental care

An article on the study published on the website Vet Surgeon notes that among the breeds with the highest prevalence of PD, most but not all of them are very small. They are:

  • Greyhound: 38.7%
  • Shetland Sheepdog: 30.6%
  • Papillon: 29.7%
  • Toy Poodle: 28.9%
  • Miniature Poodle: 28.2%

The dogs with the least PD are giant breeds like the Great Dane and Saint Bernard.

Why are small dogs more likely to develop dental problems?

The main reason is tooth crowding because their mouths are so small. This leads to plaque build-up and gum inflammation. Smaller dogs also have less bone to anchor their teeth well.

The researchers encourage regular veterinary checkups and routine scale and polish dental appointments. Home tooth brushing is also very helpful.

For more on dental disease in pets, check out our blog article HERE.


5 thoughts on “Study: Small Dogs Can Have Big Dental Problems

  1. Been tooth brushing the 16 year-old Catahoula (57 pounds) twice a day. He doesn’t like it, but puts up with it. Apparently, with age comes patience. His breath has vastly improved.

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