Your dog's dental and general health can be affected by periodontal disease. Our Everett vets offer some facts about periodontal disease in dogs and how you can treat and prevent it.
What is periodontal disease in dogs?
Periodontitis is also often referred to as periodontal disease or gum disease. It is a form of bacteria that can attack your dog's mouth, then cause several potential health issues. Similar to tooth decay in people, dogs with periodontal disease typically don't show any apparent symptoms until the condition has reached an advanced stage.
When we do start to see symptoms of periodontal disease, your dog may already be feeling chronic pain, or experienced bone or tooth loss and erosion of the gums as the teeth's supporting structures are lost or become weak.
Why does my dog have periodontal disease?
Bacteria can gradually accumulate in your dog's mouth and develop into plaque before combining with other minerals. In just a few days, the plaque hardens into tartar if not cleared away and becomes much more difficult to scrape off your dog's teeth.
Untreated tartar continues to build up on the teeth, leading to gum erosion and deep pockets between the teeth and gums, where bacteria thrive. Due to this, abscesses may start to develop and tissue and bone can start to deteriorate. This is when a dog's teeth can start to become loose and fall out.
For small and toy breed dogs, advanced periodontal disease often leads to jaw fractures.
In many cases, poor diet and nutrition can lead to development of periodontal disease in dogs. Crowded teeth, dirty toys and excessive grooming habits may also contribute to this condition.
What are the signs of periodontal disease in dogs?
You won't typically see any or numerous signs of periodontal disease in its early stages. That said, you may notice one or more of these symptoms if your dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease:
- Loose or missing teeth
- Weight loss
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Reduced appetite
- Problems keeping food in mouth
- Blood on chew toys or in water bowl
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
It's important to keep in mind that periodontal disease is a serious health concern for dogs. Once this condition reaches its advanced stages, your pooch may be dealing with significant chronic pain, but that's not all.
The bacteria related to periodontal disease can also travel through your pup's body, leading to potential issues with major organs and serious medical problems such as heart disease.
How is periodontal disease treated 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.
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 developing 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 periodontal disease in your dog, 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 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 pup 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 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 pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.