Skip to main content

Oral Health is Critical for Your Retriever

Make sure to pay attention to the business end of your duck dog.

Oral Health is Critical for Your Retriever
(Tony J. Peterson photos)

The problem with dogs is also what we love about dogs. If that seems vague, let me offer up an example from my younger years with a buddy’s golden retriever. Buster was a hunting fool and he never met a duck, or upland bird, or toad or snake or you-name-it that he didn’t think deserved a ride between his teeth.

He didn’t discriminate against chipmunks either, and when one sought refuge in an aluminum drain pipe at my buddy’s parent’s house, Buddy chewed through it to get to the prize inside. He also, more than once, chewed through his chain link kennel. Buddy was so driven that he’d ignore serious oral trauma to get at what he wanted, and even when he was dripping blood from his tongue and gums, he really didn’t seem to mind.

That’s the problem.

The Breeding Ground

Not only is their mouth the gateway to interaction with the world for most dogs, it’s also the place where some of their health issues can arise. When it comes to puppies, you might notice some small bumps on their tongue, which could mean they’ve got oral papillomatosis. This condition can also pop up in immuno-compromised dogs. With puppies, it usually resolves as the dog matures, but if your dog is already mature and develops the fleshy warts, it could be a sign that there are underlying issues. Gingivitis can occur in dogs as well so keep an eye on plaque buildup. While it’s not likely to kill them to have inflamed gums, it leads to discomfort and a lesser quality of life. Both of these are preferable to tumors, particularly malignant tumors, which can also develop in the mouth or the throat.


Dog-Mouth-Checkup.png

Long story long, is that there is the potential in your duck dog’s mouth to develop minor, self-resolving issues, or something as severe as cancer. Your job is to pay attention and check often for any abnormalities. This, obviously starts with puppies, which is a good thing because you want your retriever to be very comfortable with you poking around between his chompers. A dog that doesn’t learn that is part of his role as your companion will resist oral inspections, which can lead to you missing something early in development a less-than-ideal situation.


Objects & Trauma

Throwing a stick for your lab as you walk along a lake might be as natural as reaching down to pet him when he lays down next to your recliner at the end of the day. But that stick could break off in his throat or jam into his gums and leave some debris behind. I know that dogs have been bringing sticks back to us probably since we coaxed them into the firelight of our nomadic camps thousands of years ago, but it only takes one enthusiastic retrieve and a branch positioned just wrong way to change things in a hurry.

There are other pieces of our environment that could get lodged into our dog’s mouth as well, but even if they don’t, they might cause some trauma. Lodged debris or cuts, scrapes and open wounds can all lead to infection. A seemingly harmless game of fetch could also result in a lost or cracked tooth, which is not a picnic for your four-legged cohort.

The takeaway, again, is to keep a close eye on what’s going on in your dog’s mouth.

Prevention Options

For most oral health issues, prevention is key. Visual inspections and regular cleanings (by both you and your veterinarian) can help keep your dog’s mouth in good shape. There are also dog food formulas out there designed specifically to address plaque buildup, usually through a crunchy kibble texture, that can address potential dental health issues. This might be a good idea, but take your vet’s word for it first. In fact, if you notice anything awry in your dog’s mouth, it’s probably time to seek professional help so a seemingly innocuous issue doesn’t fester into something far worse.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Picking a Puppy

Picking a Puppy

Wildfowl contributor Mark Romanack shares advice about choosing your next retriever.

Women

Women's Waterfowl Lineup

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture-wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways!

Browning A5 Shotgun -

Browning A5 Shotgun - 'Gun Stories'

Gun Stories host Joe Mantegna talks about the origin and history of the Browning A5 shotgun.

Arkansas Snow Geese

Arkansas Snow Geese

Wildfowl Editor Skip Knowles took this short video showing all the Snow Geese flying. Let's just say, he had a very good hunt!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

For a good aquatic intro for your pup, simply take it easy.Basic Water Training for Your Retriever Retriever

Basic Water Training for Your Retriever

Bill Gibson

For a good aquatic intro for your pup, simply take it easy.

Mallards are masters of avoiding hunting pressure.Are Mallard Ducks Becoming Nocturnal? Conservation

Are Mallard Ducks Becoming Nocturnal?

David Hart

Mallards are masters of avoiding hunting pressure.

We might not see anxiety or worry in our dogs, but it is there and can affect hunting ability. How Stress Affects a Dog's Hunting Ability Retriever

How Stress Affects a Dog's Hunting Ability

Tony J. Peterson

We might not see anxiety or worry in our dogs, but it is there and can affect hunting ability.

Perfect for party gatherings, these spicy bacon-wrapped poppers come from a Sooner State hunting fan who likes the taste of fresh duck breasts hot off the grill.Bacon-Wrapped Duck Breast Poppers Recipe Recipes

Bacon-Wrapped Duck Breast Poppers Recipe

Lynn Burkhead

Perfect for party gatherings, these spicy bacon-wrapped poppers come from a Sooner State...

See More Trending Articles

More Retriever

Make sure to pay attention to the business end of your duck dog.Oral Health is Critical for Your Retriever Retriever

Oral Health is Critical for Your Retriever

Tony J. Peterson

Make sure to pay attention to the business end of your duck dog.

Are you asking enough of your retriever? Maybe your good gun dog could be great. Reach Your Duck Dog's Full Potential Retriever

Reach Your Duck Dog's Full Potential

Tom Dokken

Are you asking enough of your retriever? Maybe your good gun dog could be great.

See More Retriever

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Wildfowl App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Wildfowl subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now