Your dog's overall well-being relies on their oral health, but unfortunately, many dogs don't get the necessary dental care at home to maintain healthy gums and teeth. In this article, our veterinarians at Harlingen describe how to treat and prevent periodontal disease in dogs.
What is canine periodontal disease?
Periodontitis, alternatively referred to as gum disease or periodontal disease, results from the accumulation of plaque on a dog's teeth. This buildup can lead to infections and other health problems over time. During the initial phases of the condition, there are typically no apparent signs of periodontal disease in dogs. However, as it progresses, dogs may experience chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss.
What causes periodontal disease in dogs?
Bacteria in your dog's mouth can accumulate and harden into plaque and tartar if not cleaned regularly. Once tartar forms on your pup's teeth, it becomes harder to remove and often requires professional help.
Tartar buildup can progress, leading to gum recession. At this stage, you may notice abscesses, tissue and bone deterioration, and even teeth becoming loose or falling out. In small and toy breeds, advanced periodontal disease can even result in jaw fractures.
Poor nutrition and diet can also be linked to the development of periodontal disease in dogs. Additionally, factors such as dirty toys, excessive grooming, and crowded teeth may contribute to the disease's onset in dogs.
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 the 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.
To assess your dog's gum health and condition thoroughly, we'll need to use anesthesia. It's also crucial to perform blood work before anesthesia to ensure your pet's overall health is suitable for the medications.
Common dental procedures for dogs 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 between appointments helps keep your dog's mouth clean and breaks down plaque before it can build up. You may also want to offer your dog dental chews or toys specially designed 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.