Periodontal disease is a common condition in dogs that can negatively impact your pup's overall health as well as their dental health. Today our Ambler vets share more about periodontal disease in dogs, how to prevent it, and how it can be treated.
What is periodontal disease in dogs?
Periodontitis (also called periodontal disease or gum disease) is a form of bacteria that can infect your dog’s mouth and cause a range of dental health issues. Much like tooth decay in people, dogs with periodontal disease typically don’t show any obvious symptoms until the condition reaches more advanced stages.
Once symptoms of periodontal disease 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.
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?
In many cases few or no signs of periodontal disease are obvious 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 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. Once the disease reaches the advanced stages your pup could be experiencing significant chronic pain, but the risks to your dog's health don't end there.
The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel throughout your pup's body, potentially causing problems with major organs and leading to serious medical issues such as heart disease.
What is the treatment for periodontal disease in dogs?
If your dog 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 severity of their dental condition, 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:
- Dental radiographs (x-rays)
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- 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 getting 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
To help prevent your dog from developing periodontal disease 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.
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 help 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 pet 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 and cats 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 dog's condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.