Your dog's general health and dental health can be negatively impacted by periodontal disease. If you've ever wondered exactly what is periodontal disease in dogs and how you can prevent it, our Hattiesburg and Petal vets have some answers for you.
What is Periodontal Disease in Dogs?
You might hear your veterinarian refer to periodontal disease as periodontitis or gum disease. This form of bacteria can infect your dog's mouth and trigger a vast number of oral health issues. Similar to tooth decay in humans, dogs with periodontal disease typically don't show any obvious symptoms until the condition has reached its more advanced stages.
When the symptoms of periodontal disease do start to show, your dog may already be experiencing erosion of the gums, tooth and bone loss and ongoing pain as the structures supporting your dog's teeth are weakened or lost.
How Did My Dog Get Periodontal Disease?
Bacteria accumulate in your dog's mouth and develop into plaque if not brushed away. The plaque then combines with other materials and hardens into tartar within a few days. Once tartar has formed and covered your dog's teeth, it will be more difficult to scrape away.
If a veterinarian does not clear the tartar from your dog's teeth, the tartar will continue to accumulate and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, causing pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow and infection can develop. Abscesses may start to form at this stage and deterioration of bone and tissue can occur. Your dog's teeth may also start to loosen and fall out.
Advanced periodontal disease in small and toy breed dogs can result in jaw fractures. The development of periodontal disease in dogs can also be related to poor diet and nutrition in some cases. Other contributing factors may include excessive grooming habits, crowded teeth and dirty toys.
What are the Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs?
While the condition is in its early stages, periodontal disease doesn't typically trigger noticeable symptoms. However, if your dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, you may see one or more of these symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Excessive drooling
- Reduced appetite
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
Keep in mind that periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. Once the disease progresses to its advanced stages, your dog may experience significant chronic pain and the bacteria can travel throughout the 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 dog is developing or suffering from the symptoms of periodontal disease your Hattiesburg and Petal 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.
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 to determine whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia medications).
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
To help prevent periodontal disease in your dog, be sure not to neglect your dog's oral health. Just like people, your dog needs regular dental appointments to keep their oral hygiene in order and to identify any issues that may be arising before more serious issues develop.
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
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 supply your dog with fun-to-chew dental care toys to help address dental disease and reduce the buildup of tartar.
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.