Periodontal disease is capable of impacting your dog's dental and overall health quite negatively. But what is exactly is periodontal disease? And how can you prevent it? Here, our Gilbert vets explain how you can help keep your dog's mouth as healthy and disease-free as possible.
What is periodontal disease in dogs?
Periodontal disease—also known as gum disease or periodontitis—is a kind of bacterial infection affecting your pup's mouth and can cause a wide variety of issues. Just like tooth decay in people, dogs with periodontal disease generally don't show obvious symptoms until the issue reaches a more advanced stage.
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 the course of a few days. Once tartar forms on your pup's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away.
If not promptly treated, tartar will continue to build up and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, causing pockets to form in your dog's gums where bacteria is more than happy to build up. At this point, abscesses may start to form in your dog's gums, tissue and bone deterioration may begin and your dog's teeth may even begin loosening or falling 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.
What are the signs of periodontal disease in dogs?
While the condition is in its earliest stages, there are typically few or no signs of periodontal disease at all. However, if your dog is suffering from an advanced version of this disease, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Reduced appetite
- 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
- Weight loss
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Problems keeping food in mouth
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
Periodontal disease is a very serious health concern in our canine companions. Once the disease reaches its advanced stages, your pup may be experiencing significant chronic pain and more. Not only does periodontal disease affect your pup's mouth, but it travels throughout their body, affecting their major internal organs and leading to further medical issues.
How is periodontal disease treated 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 comprehensive exam and cleaning of your dog's teeth and gums, they will have to use anesthesia. We always conduct bloodwork before administering anesthesia to determine whether or not your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
Dental procedures for dogs typically include:
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Dental radiographs (x-rays)
- Anesthesia monitoring
- Pain medication during and post-procedure
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic and oxygen
- Circulating warm air to ensure the patient remains warm while under anesthesia
- Scaling, polishing and lavage of gingival areas
- Extractions as required (with local anesthesia such as novocaine)
How can I prevent my dog from developing periodontal disease?
Thankfully, periodontal disease can be prevented, treated and even reversed if it's found in its earliest stages. There are two key approaches to preventing and treating your pup's oral health.
Professional Cleanings & Dental Exams for Your Dog
To help prevent periodontal disease in your dog, be sure not to neglect your pup's oral health. Just like people, our four-legged friends need regular dental appointments to keep their oral hygiene in check and to identify any trouble spots before more serious issues develop.
Dental appointments for your dog function similarly to your own veterinary appointments. Our vets will conduct an examination of your dog's teeth and gums, provide them with a thorough cleaning and schedule another appointment within 6 months to a year.
These appointments also give you the chance to raise any concerns you may have about your dog's oral or overall health to our veterinary professionals.
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 supplying 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.