Periodontal disease can negatively impact your dog's oral and overall health. In this post, our Denver vets explain how you can recognize periodontal disease in dogs and how you can prevent it.
What is Periodontal Disease In Dogs?
Your dog's mouth can get infected with a bacteria called 'Periodontitis'. This silent condition (gum disease) generally doesn’t exhibit any obvious signs or symptoms in dogs until it becomes more advanced.
That said, dogs with gum disease experience chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss as the supporting structures of your pup's teeth become weakened or lost.
As with humans, if food particles and bacteria build up along your dog's gum line and aren't brushed away, plaque will form. The plaque on your dog's teeth can develop into calculus which we call tartar.
Tartar buildup along your dog's gum line can lead to inflammation and irritation of the gums called gingivitis. Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease in both dogs and humans.
As your pet's periodontal disease continues to progress, the attachment between gums and teeth starts to become lost, which intensifies in stage three and becomes an advanced periodontal disease in the fourth stage. The fourth stage of periodontal disease in dogs is characterized by receding gum tissue, loss of 50% of the attachment between teeth and gums, and exposed tooth roots.
Dog Periodontal Disease Symptoms
While early-stage periodontal disease doesn't usually exhibit visible signs in dogs, if your pup is suffering from advanced gum disease you may notice one or more of the symptoms below:
- Reduced appetite
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Blood on chew toys or in their water bowl
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
Dog owners should always take periodontal disease seriously. When the disease reaches its advanced stages your pup could be experiencing significant chronic pain. Not only that, as with people, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel throughout your dog's body, potentially causing problems with major organs and resulting in serious medical problems like heart disease.
The Causes of Periodontal Disease In Dogs
The gradual buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth develops into plaque which combines with other minerals and hardens into calculus (tartar) within just a few days. Once calculus forms on your dog's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away. As a result, the calculus will keep building up and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, causing pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow. This is when abscesses can start to form, tissue and bone deterioration can occur, and your dog's teeth can become loose. In small and toy breeds it's not unusual for advanced periodontal disease to cause jaw fractures.
Poor diet and nutrition can contribute to the development of periodontal disease in dogs. Other contributors to the development of periodontal disease in dogs can include dirty toys, excessive grooming habits, and misalignment of teeth (dogs with crowded teeth are more vulnerable to gum disease).
Treating Dogs With Periodontal Disease
If your dog has periodontal disease your vet may recommend professional cleaning or other treatments depending on the severity of your dog's oral health issues.
The cost of dental care for dogs varies depending on the level of care required and the individual vet. In order for your vet to perform a thorough examination of your dog's teeth and gums, as well as any treatments required, the use of anesthesia will be necessary. (Pre-anesthesia blood work is an important step to determine whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia medications).
Dental procedures for dogs consist of the following:
- A full set of dental radiographs
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- Anesthesia monitoring
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic, and oxygen
- Circulating warm air to ensure the patient is kept warm while under anesthesia
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Pain medication during and post-procedure
- Scaling, polishing, and lavage of gingival areas
- Any extractions that may be required, local anesthesia such as novocaine
Preventing Periodontal Disease In Dogs
Fortunately, periodontal disease in dogs can be prevented, treated, and reversed if detected in its early stages.
Don’t neglect your dog’s oral health. As with humans, dogs require regular dental appointments to maintain their good oral hygiene and to have any trouble spots diagnosed and treated before more serious issues develop. Your pup should visit your primary vet every six months for an oral health evaluation. These twice-yearly appointments will also provide you with an opportunity to ask your vet any questions you may have about caring for your pet's teeth at home.
Brush your dog’s teeth daily between appointments to prevent plaque and bacteria from forming (choose a toothpaste specially made for dogs). You could also offer your dog specially formulated dental chews and dog food, as well as specially designed toys that can help address dental disease and reduce the development of calculus.
Is your dog suffering from periodontal disease symptoms such as swollen or inflamed gums, appetite changes, or missing teeth? Call our veterinary team at Pets on Broadway Animal Hospital immediately.
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.