Periodontal disease can negatively impact your dog's overall health as well as their dental health, but what is periodontal disease in dogs, and how can you prevent it? Today, our Liberty Lake vets explain how you can help to keep your dog's mouth healthy.
What is periodontal disease in dogs?
Periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease or gum disease, is a bacterial infection that can infect your dog's mouth and cause a variety of problems. Periodontal disease in dogs, like tooth decay in humans, typically shows no obvious symptoms until the condition progresses.
When the symptoms of periodontal disease do begin to show, your dog may already be experiencing ongoing pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss as the supporting structures of your dog's teeth are weakened or lost.
Why does my dog have periodontal disease?
The gradual buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth develops into plaque then combines with other minerals and begins to harden into tartar over a few days. Once tartar forms on your dog's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away.
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 and become infected. Abscesses may form at this stage, tissue and bone deterioration may occur, and your dog's teeth may begin to loosen and fall out.
In small and toy breed dogs advanced periodontal disease can lead to jaw fractures.
The development of periodontal disease in dogs can also be associated with poor nutrition and diet in some dogs. Other factors that may contribute to the development of periodontal disease in dogs can include dirty toys, excessive grooming habits, and crowded teeth.
What are the signs of periodontal disease in dogs?
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
It's important to note that periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. Once the disease reaches the advanced stages your dog could be experiencing significant chronic pain, but that's not all.
The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel throughout your dog's body, potentially causing problems with major organs and leading to serious medical issues such as heart disease.
How is periodontal disease treated in dogs?
If your dog is developing or suffering from the symptoms of periodontal disease your Liberty Lake vets 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.
Anesthesia will be required for your vet to perform a thorough examination of your dog's teeth and gums, as well as any necessary treatments. (An important step in determining whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia medications is pre-anesthesia blood work.)
Dental procedures for dogs typically include:
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Dental radiographs (x-rays)
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- 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
How can I prevent my dog from developing periodontal disease?
Fortunately, periodontal disease can be prevented, treated, and reversed if it is detected in its early stages. There are two key approaches to caring for your dog's oral health.
Professional Cleanings & Dental Exams for Your Dog
Make sure your dog's oral health is not neglected to help prevent periodontal disease. Your dog, like people, requires regular dental appointments to maintain good oral hygiene and to identify any problems before they become more serious.
Your dog's dental appointments at the vet are just like taking your dog to see a dentist. It is recommended that most dogs see the vet about every six months for an oral health evaluation.
These 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.
Caring For Your Dog's Teeth at Home
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 give your dog specially formulated dental chews and dog food, as well as fun-to-chew dental care toys, to help address dental disease and reduce tartar buildup.
If your dog is showing signs of periodontal disease such as swollen or inflamed gums, appetite changes, or missing teeth, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Remember that oral health issues in dogs can be very painful.
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.