Chronic Oral Infections in Morkies Explained
Morkies, or Morkshire terriers, are a hybrid between Maltese and Yorkshire terrier breeds. Specific anatomy due to genetics causes chronic oral infections in Morkies, which, if untreated, can lead to various health problems such as kidney disease, liver dysfunction, and heart disease. In addition, because of the mixed breed, Morkies are often born with teeth that are overly susceptible to cavities, crowded teeth, abscesses, and periodontal disease. Some vets will even argue that Morkies have the worst dental predisposition of all other breeds because of both species. Morkies are notorious for dental problems and chronic oral infections due to the breed.
Causes of Bad Teeth in Morkies
There are many reasons Morkies are cursed with chronic oral infections, but one of them is overcrowding. Overcrowding occurs when there are more teeth than space in a mouth, typical for smaller breeds like Morkies. They are born with tiny jaws that don’t have enough space to house the teeth they’re born with. The extra teeth will often push forward other teeth, causing them to become uneven and creating holes and gaps. Those small spaces are a perfect breeding ground for cavities that cause tooth pain and decay because of debris trapped inside. If we leave these cavities untreated, they will develop an infection and cause an abscess under the tooth, which can be painful, dangerous, and sometimes cause tooth rot.
It is the same in humans as in Morkies — too small a jaw causes overcrowding in the teeth. Overcrowding and small spaces between teeth can also cause cavities and tartar buildup. Tartar build-up happens. There isn’t an ability to brush under all the teeth, so some may have an excessive build-up of bacterial plaque and tartar. The build-up of those materials is the reason chronic oral infections occur in Morkies and can cause an infection or a cavity, sometimes resulting in tooth loss.
Another significant reason gum disease and chronic oral infections can occur in Morkies are periodontal pockets. Periodontal pockets are small pockets below the gums that can gather debris and cause infection. Ask your vet if you suspect your pet has periodontal pockets. It’s important to flush out these specific anomalies with a saline rinse or water pick when your Morkie is getting his teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist.
Oral Infection Caused by Environmental Factors
Several environmental factors can affect Morkie’s teeth and cause chronic oral infections as well. One of many is diet. For example, rawhide bones can splinter and give your dog a sliver in the gums that can go unnoticed until an infection appears. To help keep their mouth healthy, many dental chews on the market can help you keep your Morkie’s mouth clean and fight off bacterial plaque.
One other environmental factor is the dogs’ natural diet. Dogs are natural carnivores and need to consume protein that gets caught between the teeth and rots. These materials will have trouble disintegrating as efficiently as other materials, so be sure not to feed your Morkie difficult to chew proteins like skin or pig ears, for they are likely to cause chronic oral infections. Stick to softer meats cut into bite-sized chunks.
Another environmental factor that plays into your Morkie coming down with chronic oral infections is doing what all dogs do — eating what they should not. If your dog has any lacerations and eats something like garbage, dead animals, or feces high in bacteria, it will cause an infection. Keeping your Morkie away from things like this can be very beneficial for your dog’s dental and overall health. Eating things full of bacteria can cause your dog to get ill, which will cause him to have a weak immune system, which will make him more susceptible to chronic oral infections and other ailments.
How Oral Infection Affects Morkies Lives
Chronic oral infections in Morkies can significantly affect their lives. Bad dental hygiene can affect considerably your Morkie’s daily life. Cavities and abscesses are painful and can cause your Morkie to have difficulty eating, playing, and enjoying life due to chronic pain.
Bad dental hygiene and chronic oral infections can become severe and cause many issues for an otherwise healthy Morkie. For example, an infection from an untreated abscess can lead to a staph infection in places other than their mouths. In addition, an infection might travel via the bloodstream to other vital organs, such as the liver, kidney, brain, or heart, resulting in organ failure or even death.
Dental Issues and Morkies Life Span
Although chronic oral infections can be dangerous, if cared for properly, the life span of your Morkie should be unaffected. The average lifespan of a Morkie is 14.5 years, even with a history of bad teeth. Regardless, even if bad teeth may not take the life of your Morkie, if untreated, it will cause him to be unhappy and in pain. Being in a constant state of pain can lead to irritability and anemia if the pain is too great to eat. Anemia is the lack of red blood cells in the cardiovascular system, causing fatigue and irritability.
Signs That Your Morkie Might Have Dental Problems
The best and most accurate way to determine if your Morkie has chronic oral infections is to bring him to the vet for regular examinations and check-ups. There are some things to look for as a dog owner that can help you determine whether you should bring your Morkie to the vet sooner rather than later.
One symptom a Morkie owner can look for is the smell of your dog’s mouth. Bad breath can show a rotting tooth or abscess. Some people write this off as “Dog Breath,” but dogs’ mouths rarely smell. Instead, a smelly mouth is a sign they have bad dental hygiene and potentially chronic oral infections. Also, pay attention to your Morkie when he is playing or chewing on a bone. If he is only chewing on one side of his mouth, that may be because he has a sensitive tooth on the other side.
Loss of Appetite
Loss of appetite is big to look out for in your Morkie, specifically because Morkies can typically eat their weight in food. However, loss of appetite can also cause outside issues like dehydration, anorexia, or anemia. If your Morkie stops eating, be sure to check the inside of his mouth for any tooth discoloration or large lumps and get him to the vet right away to check if your Morkie has a chronic oral infection.
Lumps and Bumps
Sometimes abscesses or cavities can present themselves as a large lump someplace on the gums. By the time this has developed, it means the tooth infection has already progressed enough to create a puss build-up, and it’s time to bring your dog to the vet for an extraction. Your dog’s gums may also grow increasingly red with irritation, an unmistakable signal of a chronic oral infection.
Receding Gums & Periodontal Disease
Another way to tell if your dog has bad oral hygiene and a potential chronic oral infection is to see if he has receding gums. This is a sign of dog gum disease. Dog gum disease can result from chronic oral infection and severe periodontitis. Therefore, it is essential that when we observe these symptoms to visit your dental veterinarian and execute a periodontal treatment. Unfortunately, gums don’t grow back after they have receded, but proper care can ensure they don’t continue to recede.
Luckily, periodontal disease is common in all dogs, not just your Morkie, and is typically curable and highly preventable. The amount of plaque build-up required to give a dog periodontal disease rarely happens until ages 3-4. From then on, it may cause tooth pain. To cure this affliction, all the veterinary dentist must do is clean the teeth with fluoride to prevent more build-up and polish the teeth. The smooth surface from polishing will make it more difficult for plaque to gather there in the future. With regular teeth cleanings from you and your vet, your Morkie can avoid periodontal disease altogether.
Progression of Chronic Oral Infections in Morkies
The progression of dental issues in your Morkie will typically begin with swelling and redness of the gums, or gingivitis. Then you will notice some bone loss and gum inflammation. From there, your vet will tell you if your dog is in stage two or stage three by discerning how much bone support is lost. Last, an infection may be apparent and progress into other organs, which can cause fever, seizures, or death. Finally, your dog’s mouth will look visually infected with dead teeth that have lost about 50% of their definition at this stage.
How to Care For and Treat Your Morkie for Dental Issues
Tooth Cleaning Treats and Toys
While there isn’t a specific diet to cure dental issues, there are things you can do to help keep your Morkie’s teeth clean. For example, people produce chew toys and treats that are manufactured specifically to help clean your dog’s mouth when they play with and eat them. Feeding them a nutritional and balanced diet can also help significantly with their immune system, which can help fight off infection.
Brushing Your Morkie’s Teeth
One of the primary ways to cut down on the likelihood your Morkie will get a dental disease or prevent oral infections entirely is to brush his teeth regularly and practice good oral hygiene. Most dogs aren’t usually fond of something foreign in their mouths, which is why brushing their teeth at a young age and doing it consistently into adulthood is very important. This will help cut down on tartar and infection-causing bacteria in his mouth. In addition, even brushing every few days or once a week can help reduce the risk of dog gum disease.
Make sure you use toothpaste specifically made for a dog and a toothbrush specifically designed for a dog’s mouth. Some toothbrushes made for humans have bristles that are too hard for dogs’ gums and will cause damage. In addition, regular toothpaste for humans can be toxic to your Morkie and can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dog-specific toothpaste also has flavors that your dog will like, so he will be more likely to let the brushing happen or potentially even enjoy it. Brushing your Morkie’s teeth is very similar to brushing your teeth in that you must do little circles from bottom to top of each tooth and reach back to the molars. Brushing as thoroughly as possible guarantees you aren’t missing any bacteria-causing plaque in your dog’s mouth that can cause disease.
DIY Dog Toothpaste
It is also possible to make toothpaste for your dog. Unfortunately, buying dog toothpaste can be expensive, which is why some creative people out there have figured out how to make their own. It’s pretty simple, one part baking soda to one part water. The fun part is once you have that simple recipe down, it’s much easier to experiment and find out what flavors your Morkie likes the best. For example, you can mix in broth instead of water. You can find out this way if your dog prefers chicken broth, beef broth, or another flavor broth. You can also mix in a few salt granules to help scrape plaque and tartar off your Morkie’s teeth. Or, if you’d like, you can make mint flavors, cinnamon flavors, or add in coconut oil.
One other at-home way to practice good oral hygiene is to get your dog interested in a game of tug with a rope toy. This will act as floss for your dog and clean those hard-to-reach spots. Sometimes your Morkie’s gums may bleed from brushing, but this means you need to stick with your daily brushing regimen. Gums bleed when there is a plaque build-up along the gum and tooth line. That is where the bacteria is stored that can spread and cause dog gum disease.
Getting Used to the Toothbrush
If your dog can’t handle the toothbrush right away, it might be helpful to start with your finger. Add a bit of your dog’s toothpaste on your finger and lightly open your Morkie’s lips to brush. Lots of treats and verbal affirmation will make this process easier. This method is more beneficial if you make your toothpaste that includes a flavor you know your Morkie likes and has a little rough salt in the mixture. Adding salt is essential when using your finger to brush your Morkie’s teeth because there is less texture than the head of a toothbrush, which means you won’t be getting those difficult plaque build-ups.
It is also imperative to do a daily or weekly oral examination of your Morkie’s mouth to ensure you aren’t missing any inflammation, plaque build-up, or other telling signs of dental issues. You may gently want to push on each tooth to ensure there aren’t any loose teeth when doing this. Also, look for abnormalities in the teeth or gums, such as black spots, red spots, blood, or inflammation. When discovering plaque build-up on your dog’s teeth, look for a yellowish film that covers the tooth. First, the plaque will form, and then after a while, if it doesn’t get brushed away, it will turn into a hard material known as tartar.
When you first notice that your dog is suffering from dental issues, the best thing to do is bring them to a vet as soon as possible. Where an infection may be reversible on its own, the abscess or the cavity that’s causing the condition will not just disappear. It will be up to your vet to either give your Morkie a filling or extract the tooth entirely. Afterward, they will most likely put your Morkie on a round of antibiotics to help fight off the residual infection. Your vet may suggest anesthesia for a professional tooth cleaning because the cleaning may go in-depth and be uncomfortable for your dog.
In the meantime, there are things you can do to keep your Morkie comfortable before he has to go to the veterinary dentist. For example, you can give him soft foods so that chewing will be easier. You can also keep him hydrated before he goes in for treatment. Your dog may also have behavioral changes if he has an abscess, such as irritability or excessive drool. The best thing to do is not get frustrated with him and understand that he is in pain.
Treatments For Dental Issues in Your Morkie
There are quite a few treatment options for your Morkie’s dental issues, depending on the underlying problem. For example, if your dog suffers from an overcrowded mouth, your veterinarian will likely want to put your dog under anesthesia and extract the teeth.
After a professional tooth cleaning, your vet will ask you to keep up on your Morkie’s dental hygiene on your own via tooth brushing. Your Morkie may be hesitant because of pain, but eventually, he will become accustomed to the feeling.
Giving Your Morkie a Fulfilling Life
Your Morkie has all the possibilities of living a long and fulfilling life despite the high probability of suffering from chronic oral diseases. Suppose your Morkie has a responsible dog owner who will dedicate the time and energy required to stay up-to-date on his veterinary appointments and brush his teeth every day. In that case, he will be a happy dog that lives a long and fulfilling life.