Your dog's oral health is essential to their overall well-being, but sadly many dogs don't receive the at-home dental care they need to keep their gums and teeth healthy. Here, our Mahopac vets explain how periodontal disease in dogs can be treated and prevented.
What is canine periodontal disease?
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease or periodontal disease, is a condition caused by a build-up of plaque on a dog's teeth which eventually causes infection or other health issues. There tends not to be any obvious signs of periodontal disease in dogs in the early stages of the condition. In its more advanced stage, symptoms include chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion or even bone loss.
What causes periodontal disease in dogs?
The buildup of bacteria in your dog's mouth, when left uncleaned, will harden into plaque and tartar. Once tartar forms on your pup's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away and often requires professional intervention.
The tartar will continue to build up and eventually cause the gums to recede. At this more advanced stage, you may begin to see abscesses, tissue and bone deterioration, and even teeth loosening and falling out. In small and toy breeds, advanced periodontal disease can even lead 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?
As periodontal disease is fairly undetectable, you may notice the following symptoms in advanced periodontal disease:
- 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 it be painful, but it also has negative effects on your dog's bodily health as bacteria on the gums can travel into the bloodstream and affect major organs like the heart or kidney. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your pup, take them to the vet right away.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease in Dogs
When you bring your dog in for periodontal disease, your vet may recommend a professional cleaning or other treatments depending on the severity of the dog's oral condition. The cost of your dog's dental care will vary depending on the treatment required.
A thorough examination of your dog's gum health and condition will require anesthesia. 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?
Prevention of this disease is relatively easy; in many cases, you can avoid it periodontal disease by regularly brushing your dog's teeth and bringing them for annual or bi-annual dental checkups.
Brushing between appointments helps keep your dog's mouth clean and breaks down plaque before it can build up. You may also want to offer your dog dental chews or toys specially designed to clean dog teeth when chewed.
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.