Your dog's dental health is essential to maintaining the health of their whole body, as infectious diseases of the mouth can travel to the body and sometimes the organs. In this post, our Babcock Ranch vets discuss common periodontal diseases in dogs and how owners can prevent them.
What is canine periodontal disease?
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease or periodontal disease, is a condition that is caused by a build-up of plaque on your dog's teeth that eventually causes infection and a variety of other oral health issues.
In the early stages, dogs with periodontal disease tend not to show any obvious symptoms. In its more advanced stage symptoms including chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion or even bone loss can appear.
What causes periodontal disease in dogs?
The gradual buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth develops into plaque then combines with other minerals and gradually hardens into tartar over the course of 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.
How can I tell if my dog has periodontal disease?
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:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
- Blood on chew toys or in 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 mouth
- Weight loss
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
Periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. Not only can periodontal disease be painful, but it also has negative effects on your dog's overall health. This is because the infection in the gum can allow bacteria into the bloodstream which can cause problems with major organs, such as the heart or kidneys.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease in Dogs
If your pooch 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 in order to determine whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia medications.
Dental procedures for dogs typically include:
- A pre-anesthetic physical assessment
- A complete oral examination
- Teeth cleaning
- Teeth polishing
- Dental X-rays
- Fluoride treatment
- Dental sealant
How can I prevent my dog from developing periodontal disease?
Many pet parents wonder how to prevent periodontal disease in dogs. Prevention is relatively easy - in many cases, periodontal disease can be avoided by regularly brushing your dog's teeth and bringing them for regular veterinary dental checkups. Your pooch should see the vet at least once a year for an oral health examination and cleaning.
Brushing between appointments helps keep your dog's mouth clean and prevents plaque from building up. 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 pooch 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.