Periodontal disease can harm both your dog's dental health and overall well-being. To prevent this condition, our Seattle veterinarians describe what it is and how to maintain your dog's oral hygiene.
What Is Periodontal Disease In Dogs?
Periodontitis, also called gum disease or periodontal disease, is caused by bacteria that can affect your dog's mouth and lead to various problems. Like humans, dogs with this disease may not show symptoms until it's advanced.
By then, they may suffer from pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or weakened supporting structures, such as bone loss.
Why Does My Dog Have Periodontal Disease?
Bacteria accumulation in your dog's mouth gradually forms plaque, which then hardens into tartar within days. Tartar removal becomes more difficult once it forms on teeth.
If left untreated, tartar buildup can cause gums to recede, forming pockets where bacteria grow and infects. Abscesses may form, tissues and bones deteriorate, and teeth loosen or fall out. Small and toy-breed dogs may also suffer jaw fractures from advanced periodontal disease.
Poor nutrition and diet can contribute to periodontal disease in some dogs, as well as dirty toys, excessive grooming, and crowded teeth.
What Are The Signs Of Periodontal Disease In Dogs?
There are typically few or no signs at all of periodontal disease while the condition is 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
- Blood on chew toys or in the 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 the mouth
- Weight loss
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
Periodontal disease is a critical health issue for dogs. Advanced stages can cause chronic pain and more severe problems, such as bacteria spreading to major organs and leading to medical issues, including heart disease.
How to treat periodontal disease in dogs?
If your dog shows signs of periodontal disease, our Seattle veterinarians may recommend professional cleaning or other treatments, depending on severity.
Dental care costs depend on the required treatment and your vet's pricing. A comprehensive exam and treatment, including anesthesia, are necessary to examine and treat your dog's teeth and gums thoroughly.
Before administering anesthesia, pre-anesthesia blood work is also important to assess your pet's health.
Dental procedures for dogs typically include:
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Dental radiographs (x-rays)
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic, and oxygen
- Circulating warm air to ensure the patient remains warm while under anesthesia
- Anesthesia monitoring
- Scaling, polishing, and lavage of gingival areas
- Extractions as required (with local anesthesia such as novocaine)
- Pain medication during and post-procedure
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Developing Periodontal Disease?
Fortunately, periodontal disease can be prevented, treated, and reversed if it is detected in its early stages. There are two key approaches to caring for your dog's oral health.
Professional Cleanings & Dental Exams for Your Dog
Maintaining your dog's oral health is essential to prevent periodontal disease. Like humans, regular dental checkups are necessary to identify any potential problems early on. Dental appointments for dogs are similar to humans visiting a dentist. It's recommended for most dogs to see a veterinarian every six months for an oral health evaluation.
These appointments allow you to discuss any concerns you have about your dog's teeth or overall health.
Caring For Your Dog's Teeth at Home
Brush your dog's teeth daily to remove plaque and prevent bacterial buildup between vet appointments. You can also provide your dog with specially formulated dental chews, dog food, and dental toys to prevent dental disease and tartar buildup.
If your dog shows signs of periodontal disease, such as swollen or inflamed gums, changes in appetite, or missing teeth, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.
Keep in mind that oral health issues in dogs can cause significant pain.
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.