Periodontal disease can adversely affect your dog's general well-being and dental health. What exactly is periodontal disease in dogs, and what measures can be taken to prevent it? In this blog, our veterinarians from Jackson will discuss how you can maintain your dog's oral health.
What is periodontal disease in dogs?
Periodontitis, also referred to as periodontal disease or gum disease, is a bacterial infection that can affect your dog's mouth and lead to various problems. Similar to tooth decay in humans, dogs with periodontal disease usually do not display noticeable symptoms until the condition advances further.
When the symptoms of periodontal disease do begin to become apparent, your dog may already be experiencing chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss as the supporting structures of your pup's teeth are weakened or lost.
Why does my dog have periodontal disease?
The gradual buildup of bacteria in your dog's mouth develops into plaque, then combines with other minerals and gradually hardens into tartar over a few days. Once tartar forms on your pup's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away.
When left untreated, the tartar will continue to build up and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, causing pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow. At this stage, abscesses may begin to form, tissue and bone deterioration can occur, and your dog's teeth may start to loosen and fall out.
In small and toy breed dogs, advanced periodontal disease can result in jaw fractures.
The onset of periodontal disease in dogs may also be linked to inadequate nutrition and diet. Other contributing factors include unclean toys, excessive grooming, and overcrowded teeth.
What are the signs of periodontal disease in dogs?
There are typically few or no signs of periodontal disease while the condition is in the early stages. However, if your dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Excessive drooling
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Reduced appetite
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
- Weight loss
- Bloody or "ropey" saliva
Please note that periodontal disease is a significant health issue for dogs. When the disease advances, your dog may experience chronic pain.
Additionally, the bacteria linked to periodontal disease can spread throughout your dog's body, potentially affecting major organs and resulting in severe medical problems like heart disease.
How is periodontal disease treated in dogs?
If your dog is developing or suffering from the symptoms of periodontal disease, your vet may recommend professional cleaning or other treatments depending on the severity of your dog's oral health problems.
The cost of your dog's dental care will vary depending on the treatment required and the individual vet.
For your vet to perform a thorough examination of your dog's teeth and gums, as well as any treatments necessary, the use of anesthesia will be required. (Pre-anesthesia blood work is also an important step to determine whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia medications).
Dental procedures for dogs typically include:
- Dental radiographs (x-rays)
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic, and oxygen
- Circulating warm air to ensure the patient remains warm while under anesthesia
- Anesthesia monitoring
- Scaling, polishing, and lavage of gingival areas
- Extractions as required (with local anesthesia such as novocaine)
- Pain medication during and post-procedure
How can I prevent my dog from developing periodontal disease?
Fortunately, periodontal disease can be prevented, treated, and reversed if it is detected in its early stages. There are two key approaches to caring for your dog's oral health.
Professional Cleanings & Dental Exams for Your Dog
To prevent periodontal disease in your dog, maintain your pup's oral health. Similar to humans, dogs require regular dental check-ups to ensure proper oral hygiene and detect potential problems early.
Your dog's veterinary dental visits are akin to visiting a canine dentist. Most dogs should see the vet for oral health assessments every six months. These appointments offer a chance to discuss any concerns regarding your dog's dental and overall health with your veterinarian.
Caring For Your Dog's Teeth at Home
To prevent problems from taking hold between appointments, brush your dog's teeth daily to remove plaque and prevent bacteria from forming. You may also want to offer your dog specially formulated dental chews and dog food, as well as supply your pup with fun-to-chew dental care toys to help address dental disease and reduce the buildup of tartar.
If your pup is showing signs of periodontal disease, such as swollen or inflamed gums, appetite changes, or missing teeth, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Remember that oral health issues in dogs can be very painful.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.