Periodontal disease is an oral health condition that all pet parents should watch for signs of. Today our Montecito vets talk about what periodontal disease is and what you can do to prevent your dog from developing this oral health condition.
What is periodontal disease in dogs?
Periodontitis, otherwise known as periodontal disease or gum disease, occurs when bacteria build up in your dog's mouth and stick to their teeth causing a variety of issues. Typically, dogs with periodontal disease generally don’t show any obvious symptoms until the condition reaches more advanced stages.
By the time any symptoms become noticeable in your dog they may already be experiencing chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion or even bone loss as the supporting structures of your pup's teeth are weakened or lost.
What caused periodontal disease in my dog?
When the bacteria in your dog’s mouth build up they begin to form plaque. This plaque then combines with the minerals in your dog's mouth and saliva to eventually harden into tartar. This hardening usually takes a few days to occur. Once tartar forms on your pup's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away.
This tartar will continue to build up and pull the gums away from the teeth, causing pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow. If left untreated it is at this stage that abscesses may begin to form, tissue and bone deterioration can occur, and your dog's teeth may start to loosen and fall out.
It is common for advanced periodontal disease to cause jaw fractures in small and toy breed dogs
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 signs of periodontal disease should I look for?
In the early stages of this condition, there may be few or no noticeable signs or symptoms. 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
It is imperative that you have your dog evaluated as soon as possible if you notice signs of periodontal disease. If left untreated and the disease reaches the advanced stages your pooch could be experiencing significant chronic pain.
along with this chronic pain and discomfort, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel throughout your pup's body, potentially causing problems with major organs and leading to serious medical issues such as heart disease.
How do you treat periodontal disease in dogs?
If your vet discovers that your dog is suffering from symptoms of periodontal disease they may recommend professional cleaning or other treatments depending on the severity of your dog's oral health problems.
Any costs associated with dental exams or cleanings will vary by vet and location. Speak with your vet about getting a quote.
When you bring your dog in to see your vet, they will perform a thorough examination of each tooth and the gumline, 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 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
What are some of the ways I can prevent periodontal disease in my dog?
Luckily, if diagnosed in the early stages, periodontal disease is entirely treatable and you can prevent this condition from recurring. There are two key approaches to caring for your dog's oral health.
Oral exams and dental cleanings for your dog
In order to care for your dog's overall health, it is important to include complete professional and at-home dental care. Just like people, our four-legged friends need regular dental appointments to keep their oral hygiene in check and to identify any trouble spots before more serious issues develop.
Bringing your dog to a vet dental appointment is just as though you are bringing them to a dog 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.
At-home care for your dog's teeth
It is important to include at-home dog dental care as part of your dog's complete daily routine. By brushing your dog's teeth every day you can help prevent plaque and tartar from forming. You may also want to offer your dog specially formulated dental chews and dog food, as well as supply your pup with fun-to-chew dental care toys to help address dental disease and reduce the buildup of tartar.
If your pup 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.