If your dog has periodontal disease both, their oral and overall health is being negatively impacted. Here, our Walnut Creek vets discuss what periodontal disease in dogs is, how you can prevent it, and share tips for keeping your pup's mouth healthy.
Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Periodontitis - which could also be called gum disease or periodontal disease - is a type of bacteria that could infect your dog’s mouth and result in varous problems. Similar to tooth decay in humans, dogs with periodontal disease generally don’t exhbitit any obvious signs or symptoms until the disease becomes more advanced.
When our canine friends do start to display noticeable symptoms of periodontal disease, your pooch might already be suffering from chronic pain, gum erosion, tooth loss, or even bone loss as the supporting structures of your dog's teeth become weaker or lost.
The Causes of 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.
Signs & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
When periodontal disease is in its early stages dogs generally show very few or no signs of this condition, but if your pooch has advanced periodontal disease you might be able to spot one or more of these symptoms:
- Excessive drooling
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Blood on chew toys or in water bowl
- Reduced appetite
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
- Problems keeping food in mouth
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
- Weight loss
It's essential for you to know that periodontal disease is a serious health problem for dogs. When the disease develops into its advanced stages your furry friend could be suffering from a great deal of chronic pain, but there's more.
The bacteria associated with periodontal disease could travel within your pooch's body, which could lead to issues with major organs and cause serious medical problems such as heart disease.
How to Treat Dog Periodontal Disease
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:
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- Anesthesia monitoring
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic, and oxygen
- Dental radiographs (x-rays)
- Scaling, polishing, and lavage of gingival areas
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Circulating warm air to ensure the patient remains warm while under anesthesia
- Pain medication during and post-procedure
- Extractions as required (with local anesthesia such as novocaine)
Preventing Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Thankfully, periodontal disease can be prevented, reversed, and treated when it is diagnosed in its earliest stages. There are two main ways you can care for your pup's oral health.
Professional Cleanings & Dental Exams for Your Dog
To help prevent periodontal disease in your dog, don't neglect their oral health. Similar to humans, dogs need to attend regular dental appointments to maintain good oral hygiene and to have any issues detected before they become serious problems.
Your dog's dental appointments at the vet are just like taking your pooch to see a doggie dentist. It is recommended that most dogs see the vet about every six months for an oral health evaluation. These appointments provide you with an opportunity to speak to your vet about any concerns you may have about your dog's teeth or overall health.
Caring For Your Dog's Teeth at Home
To protect your beloved pooch from dental health issues between their veterinary dental appointments you need to brush your dog's teeth daily. This cleans plaque away from your dog's mouth and prevents the formation of bacteria, tartar, and plaque. We also suggest giving your pooch specially formulated dental chews and dog food, and providing them with dental care toys that will be fun for them to chew, this helps prevent dental disease and reduces the buildup of tartar in their mouth.
If your canine companion is exhibiting periodontal disease symptoms such as inflamed or swollen gums, a reduced appetite, or missing teeth, call your vet immediately. Keep in mind that oral health problems can be very painful for dogs.
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.