Your dog's oral and overall health can be negatively impacted by periodontal disease. In this post, our San Jose vets share facts about periodontal disease in dogs, its symptoms, causes and how to stop and prevent the condition.
Periodontal Disease - Gum Disease
The bacteria periodontitis can develop in your dog's mouth and begin to cause several issues. Similar to how tooth decay occurs in humans, obvious symptoms of periodontal disease usually won't appear in dogs until the condition has reached a more advanced stage.
Once signs of periodontal disease do become more apparent in your dog, they are likely in chronic pain and may have lost teeth or gum tissue, or even experienced bone loss, since the condition weakens or destroys supporting structures of your pooch's teeth.
Causes of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Bacteria can slowly build up in your dog's mouth before developing into plaque. It then combines with other minerals and hardens into tartar. It only takes a few days for this process to happen, and once tartar develops on your dog's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away.
Left untreated, the tartar will continue to accumulate and the gums will begin to gradually separate from the teeth, and pockets form in the gums. These pockets become an ideal area for bacteria to grow. Abscesses can start to form, bone and tissue deterioration can occur, and you may find your dog's teeth become loose and start to fall out.
Periodontal disease often leads to jaw fractures in toy and small breed dogs.
While poor diet and nutrition factor into the development of periodontal disease in dogs, other factors that may contribute to the condition include crowded teeth, excessive grooming habits and dirty toys.
Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
There are typically little or no signs of periodontal disease while it's in the early stages, however, if your dog is suffering from 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 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 mouth
- Weight loss
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
Periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. Once the disease reaches the advanced stages your canine companion could be experiencing significant chronic pain, but that's not all.
The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also 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 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 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 Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Fortunately, periodontal disease can be prevented, treated and reversed if detected in its early stages.
In order to help prevent periodontal disease, be sure not to neglect your dog’s oral health. Just like people, dogs need regular dental checkups to keep their oral hygiene in check and to identify any trouble spots before more serious issues develop.
Your pooch should see the vet about every six months for an oral health evaluation. Twice yearly 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.
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 specially designed toys to help address dental disease and reduce the buildup of tartar.
If your pooch is displaying symptoms of periodontal disease such as swollen or inflamed gums, appetite changes or missing teeth, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.