Periodontal disease - also known as gum disease - can have a negative impact on your dog's overall health as well as their oral health. Our Weldon Spring vets explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments available to help restore your dog's oral health.
Periodontal Disease - Gum Disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a type of bacteria that can infect your dog's mouth and cause a variety of problems. Dogs with periodontal disease, like people with tooth decay, usually show no obvious symptoms until the condition progresses.
Once symptoms of periodontal disease do appear, 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.
Common 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.
If tartar is not removed, it will continue to accumulate and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, creating pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow. Abscesses may form at this stage, tissue and bone deterioration may occur, and your dog's teeth may begin 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 That Your Dog May Have Periodontal Disease
When periodontal disease is in its early stages, there are usually few or no symptoms; however, if your dog has 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 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 serious health concern for our dogs. Once the disease reaches the advanced stages your canine companion could be experiencing significant chronic pain, but that's not all.
The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel throughout your pet's body, potentially causing problems with major organs and leading to serious medical issues such as heart disease.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease 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.
Anesthesia will be required for your vet to perform a thorough examination of your dog's teeth and gums, as well as any necessary treatments. (Pre-anesthesia blood work is also necessary to determine whether your pet is healthy enough to receive 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
Preventing Your Dog From Developing Periodontal Disease
Fortunately, periodontal disease can be prevented, treated, and reversed if detected in its early stages.
In order to help prevent periodontal disease, be sure not to neglect your dog’s oral health. Just like people, dogs need regular dental appointments to keep their oral hygiene in check and to identify any trouble spots before more serious issues develop.
Your pooch should see the vet about every six months for an oral health evaluation. Twice yearly 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.
Brush your dog's teeth daily to remove plaque and prevent bacteria from forming between appointments to prevent problems from developing. To help address dental disease and reduce tartar buildup, you may also want to offer your dog specially formulated dental chews and dog food, as well as specially designed toys.
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.