Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can harm your dog's overall health as well as his or her oral health. Our Pico Rivera veterinarians explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments available to help 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, typically do not exhibit any obvious symptoms until the condition progresses to a more advanced stage.
When periodontal disease symptoms 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 deteriorate or are lost.
Common Causes of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Bacteria gradually accumulate in your dog's mouth, forming plaque, which then combines with other minerals and hardens into tartar over a few days. Tartar on your dog's teeth becomes more difficult to remove once it has formed.
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.
Advanced periodontal disease in small and toy breed dogs frequently results in jaw fractures.
Periodontal disease in dogs can also be associated with poor nutrition and diet in some dogs. Dirty toys, excessive grooming, and crowded teeth are all factors that can contribute to the development of periodontal disease in dogs.
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 major health issue for our dogs. When the disease progresses to the advanced stages, your canine companion may experience severe chronic pain, but that's not all.
Periodontal bacteria can 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 dog is developing or exhibiting symptoms of periodontal disease, your veterinarian may recommend professional cleaning or other treatments, depending on the severity of your dog's oral health issues.
The cost of your dog's dental care will vary depending on the procedure and the veterinarian.
Anesthesia will be required for your veterinarian 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.
Make sure your dog's oral health is not neglected to help prevent periodontal disease. Dogs, like people, require regular dental visits to maintain good oral hygiene and to identify any potential problems before they become more serious.
Your dog should visit the vet every six months for an oral health examination. Twice-yearly appointments allow you to speak with your veterinarian about any concerns you 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. You may also want to provide your dog with specially formulated dental chews and dog food, as well as specially designed toys, to aid in the treatment of dental disease and the reduction of tartar buildup.
If your dog is exhibiting periodontal disease symptoms such as swollen or inflamed gums, changes in appetite, or missing teeth, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian 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.