Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can hurt both your dog's overall health and his or her oral health. The causes, symptoms, and treatments available to help your dog's oral health are explained by our Rabun County veterinarians.
Periodontal Disease - Gum Disease
Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a type of bacteria that can infect your dog's mouth and cause a variety of issues. Periodontal disease in dogs, like tooth decay in humans, usually does not show any symptoms until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage.
As the supporting structures of your dog's teeth deteriorate or are lost, your dog may already be experiencing chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss when periodontal disease symptoms appear.
Common Causes of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Bacteria build up in your dog's mouth over time, forming plaque, which combines with other minerals and hardens into tartar over time. Once tartar has formed on your dog's teeth, it becomes more difficult to remove.
If tartar isn't removed, it will build up and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, creating pockets where bacteria can grow. Abscesses, tissue and bone deterioration, and loosening and falling out of your dog's teeth are all possibilities at this point.
Jaw fractures are common in small and toy breed dogs with advanced periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease in dogs has been linked to poor diet and nutrition in some dogs. Periodontal disease in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including dirty toys, excessive grooming, and crowded teeth.
Signs That Your Dog May Have Periodontal Disease
There are usually few or no symptoms when periodontal disease is in its early stages; 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
Depending on the severity of your dog's oral health issues, your veterinarian may recommend professional cleaning or other treatments if your dog is developing or exhibiting symptoms of periodontal disease.
The cost of dental care for your dog varies depending on the procedure and the veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will need to perform a thorough examination of your dog's teeth and gums, as well as any necessary treatments, under anesthesia. (Pre-anesthesia blood tests are also required to determine whether your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia)
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.
To help prevent periodontal disease, make sure your dog's oral health is not neglected. Regular dental visits are necessary for dogs, just as they are for humans, to maintain good oral hygiene and to identify any potential problems before they become more serious.
Every six months, your dog should see the vet for an oral health examination. Twice-yearly appointments allow you to discuss any concerns you have about your dog's teeth or overall health with your veterinarian.
Brush your dog's teeth daily to remove plaque and bacteria, and to prevent problems from developing between appointments. To aid in the treatment of dental disease and the reduction of tartar buildup, you may want to give your dog specially formulated dental chews and dog food, as well as specially designed toys.
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible if your dog is exhibiting periodontal disease symptoms such as swollen or inflamed gums, changes in appetite, or missing teeth.
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.