What is canine periodontal disease?
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease or periodontal disease, is a disorder caused by plaque buildup on a dog's teeth that can lead to infection or other health problems. In the early stages of periodontal disease, there are usually no noticeable symptoms in dogs. Symptoms in its mature stage include persistent discomfort, tooth loss, gum erosion, and 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.
Tartar will continue to accumulate and cause the gums to recede. Abscesses, tissue and bone degradation, and even teeth loosening and coming out may occur at this stage. Advanced periodontal disease in petite and toy breeds might even result in 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.
Anesthesia will be required for a comprehensive assessment of your dog's gum health and condition. Pre-anesthetic blood work is also necessary to assess whether your pet is healthy enough to receive anesthesia medicines.
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 in between appointments keeps your dog's mouth clean and prevents plaque buildup. You may also wish to give your dog dental chews or toys created specifically 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.