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Cavities in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Just like people, dogs can develop dental cavities due to inadequate oral care. In today's post, our Rabun County vets explain how dog cavities are treated and how to prevent your canine companion from developing a cavity. 

Can dogs get cavities?

If you're considering dental care for your pup, you might ask, "Do dogs get cavities?" The answer is yes. A dog cavity is an area on one of your dog's teeth that becomes damaged due to prolonged exposure to bacteria found in food.

When bacteria accumulate on your pup's teeth and remain for a long time, they cause acid to build up, which then begins to eat away at the outer layers of the tooth. This can cause damage and decay. 

This bacteria can completely destroy your dog's tooth over time, and damage the root of the tooth. In severe cases, this can cause the tooth to fall out or needing to be extracted. 

While canine cavities are relatively rare due to low amounts of acids and sugars in most dogs' diets, some breeds are more likely to develop cavities than others. These include bulldogs, chihuahuas, dachshunds, poodles, and shih tzus, which are all predisposed to higher instances of tooth decay. 

What are the signs that my dog might have a cavity?

These symptoms can indicate your dog may have a cavity or other oral health issue. We recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian right away if you notice any of the following:

  • A dark spot anywhere on the tooth 
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Pain or discomfort in the mouth area 
  • Tooth discoloration, especially brown or yellow spots near the gum line 
  • Dropping food 
  • Lack of appetite 

Bringing your dog in for regular checkups with your vet can help prevent tooth decay from occurring, or increase the chances a cavity being detected early. 

How are cavities in dogs treated?

If your dog gets a cavity, your veterinarian will assess how much damage the cavity has done to the tooth. There are five stages of tooth damage: 

Stage 1: Only enamel affected
Stage 2: Enamel and dentin affected
Stage 3: Enamel, dentin, and pulp chamber affected
Stage 4: Structural crown damage
Stage 5: Majority of crown lost, roots exposed

Treatment of dog cavities depends on what stage of damage your dog's tooth has been diagnosed with.

For a Stage 1 or 2 tooth decay, the enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed, and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling. 

For a dog tooth cavity that has reached Stage 3, your vet will perform a root canal procedure, in which the root canal will be disinfected and scrubbed and then filled. The procedure will finish with the restoration and sealing of the crown. 

If your dog has been diagnosed with a Stage 4 or 5 cavity the tooth will likely need to be extracted since it will be too damaged to restore. Your veterinarian may use a sealant on the surrounding teeth, to help protect your dog's teeth against further tooth decay and cavities. 

What can I do to protect my dog's teeth against cavities?

Regular dental visits to your vet are key to maintaining your dog's oral hygiene and preventing cavities. When you bring your dog in for regular cleanings, your vet can also catch any developing oral health issues and suggest treatment options before they turn into a more serious problem.

You can also take at-home measures to help your dog maintain its oral hygiene, such as brushing their teeth at home in between vet visits and providing your pup with special chew toys designed to promote plaque removal.

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.

Is it time for your dog's dental exam and cleaning? Contact our Rabun County vets today to book an appointment for your pooch.

We Can't Wait To Meet You!

Rabun Animal Hospital is currently accepting new patients! Our wonderful veterinarians are dedicated to the health and happiness of Rabun County dogs, cats, and exotic pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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