In addition to your dog's oral health, periodontal disease (gum disease) can negatively affect their overall health. Here, our Grand Prairie vets explain how periodontal disease can be recognized in dogs and how it is treated.
Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease) In Dogs
Gum disease or periodontitis is a type of bacteria that can infect a dog's mouth and cause a range of problems. Similar to tooth decay in humans, dogs that have periodontal disease don’t usually exhibit symptoms until the condition becomes more advanced.
Once dogs start developing visible symptoms of periodontal disease, your pup could already be suffering from chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss, as the supporting structures of your pet's teeth are weakened or lost.
How Dogs Can Get Periodontal Disease
The gradual buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth turns into plaque and then combines with other minerals, gradually hardening into tartar over the course of several days. Once tartar forms on your pup's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away.
If this goes untreated, the tartar will keep building up and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, forming pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow. This is when, abscesses can start to form, tissue and bone deterioration can occur, and your dog's teeth may start to become loose and fall out.
In small and toy breed dogs advanced periodontal disease often results in jaw fractures.
The development of periodontal disease in some dogs can also be associated with poor nutrition and diet. Other factors that can contribute to the growth of periodontal disease in dogs can include dirty toys, excessive grooming habits, and crowded teeth.
Signs & Symptoms of Dog Periodontal Disease
Generally, periodontal disease exhibits little or no signs when it's in the early stages, but, if your dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease they may display one or more of these symptoms:
- Reduced appetite
- Excessive drooling
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Problems keeping food in their mouth
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Blood on chew toys or in their water bowl
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Weight loss
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
Periodontal disease is a serious health concern among dogs. Once the disease enters its advanced stages your furry friend could be experiencing significant chronic pain.
Furthermore, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel throughout your dog's body, potentially causing problems with major organs, leading to serious medical issues such as heart disease.
How Dogs With Periodontal Disease Are Treated
If your dog is developing or suffering from periodontal disease symptoms, 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 treatments needed and the vet you see.
Anesthesia will be required so your vet can perform a thorough examination of your dog's teeth and gums, as well as any treatments necessary. (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:
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- Dental radiographs (X-rays)
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic, and oxygen
- Anesthesia monitoring
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Pain medication during and post-procedure
- Circulating warm air to ensure the patient remains warm while under anesthesia
- Scaling, polishing, and lavage of gingival areas
- Extractions as required (with local anesthesia such as novocaine)
Tips To Prevent Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Thankfully periodontal disease can be prevented, or even treated and reversed if it's found in its early stages.
First, if you want to prevent your dog from developing periodontal disease, you can't neglect their oral health. Just like people, dogs need regular dental appointments to keep their oral hygiene in check and to identify any trouble spots before more serious issues develop.
Your dog should see the vet about every six months for an oral health evaluation. Twice yearly dental appointments provide you with an opportunity to ask your vet about any concerns you may have about your dog's teeth or overall health.
To make sure problems don't arise 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 specially designed toys to help address dental disease and reduce tartar buildup.
If your dog is displaying symptoms of periodontal diseases, 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.