Oral health care is important for dogs, but many aren't given the dental care they need to be healthy. In this post, our South Wilton vets talk about periodontal disease in dogs, including how to prevent it.
Periodontal Disease & Dogs
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease or periodontal disease, is a type of bacteria that can infect your dog’s mouth and cause a range of oral health problems. Dogs with early-stage periodontal disease don't usually show any obvious symptoms.
However, when the periodontal disease gets more advanced in dogs, painful and problematic symptoms will start to become noticeable, including chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss as the supporting structures of your pup's teeth are weakened or lost.
How Dogs Get 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 often leads to jaw fractures.
The development of periodontal disease in dogs can also be associated with poor nutrition and diet in some dogs. Other factors that may contribute to the development of periodontal disease in dogs can include dirty toys, excessive grooming habits, and crowded teeth.
Signs & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease In Dogs
There are typically little or no signs of periodontal disease while it's in the early stages, however, if your dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Excessive drooling
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Reduced appetite
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
- Weight loss
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
Periodontal disease is a serious health concern for all dogs. Once the disease reaches the advanced stages your canine companion could be experiencing significant chronic pain, but that's not all.
The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel throughout your pet's body, potentially causing problems with major organs and leading to serious medical issues such as heart disease.
Treating Dogs With Periodontal Disease
If your pup is suffering from periodontal disease symptoms your vet might suggest a professional cleaning or other treatments depending on the severity of your dog's oral health condition.
The cost of your dog's dental care will vary depending on the treatment needed and the individual vet.
For your vet to conduct a comprehensive examination of your dog's teeth and gums, as well as any treatments necessary, they will need to use anesthesia. (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:
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- Dental radiographs (X-rays)
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic, and oxygen
- Anesthesia monitoring
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Circulating warm air to ensure the patient remains warm while under anesthesia
- Scaling, polishing, and lavage of gingival areas
- Pain medication during and post-procedure
- Extractions as required (with local anesthesia such as novocaine)
Preventing Periodontal Disease In Dogs
Many pet parents want to know how they can prevent periodontal disease in dogs. Prevention is relatively easy, simply by caring for your dog's oral health, similar to how you would care for your own, you may be able to prevent your dog from developing periodontal disease.
Right from when your pup is young, be sure to pay close attention to your dog’s oral health. Like people, dogs need regular dental appointments to keep their oral hygiene in check and to identify any trouble spots before more serious issues develop.
Your dog should see the vet at least once a year for an oral health examination and cleaning. Regular dental appointments for your dog provide you with an opportunity to speak to your vet about any concerns you may have about your pup's teeth or overall health.
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 specially designed toys to help address dental disease and reduce the buildup of tartar.
If your canine friend is displaying symptoms of periodontal disease such as swollen or inflamed gums, appetite changes, or missing teeth, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
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.