Your dog's oral health can be seriously impacted by periodontal disease—as can their overall health and wellbeing. Here, our Torrance vets explain this disease and its symptoms, its causes and your pet's treatment options if they are suffering from it.
What is periodontal disease in dogs?
Periodontitis bacteria are able to infect your dog's oral cavity, quietly invading their mouth without showing any symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. However, gum disease may have a number of serious ramifications for your dog's overall health, including gum erosion, loss of bone or teeth and chronic pain.
While food particles and bacteria collect along your pup's gum line and aren't promptly brushed away, they can develop into plaque and harden into tartar. This causes irritation in your pet's mouth and inflammation in their gums and surrounding areas. In its early stages, periodontal disease is called gingivitis.
What are the symptoms of periodontal disease in dogs?
There are some hallmark symptoms of canine periodontitis pet parents should watch for, including:
- Weight loss
- Bleeding or inflamed gums
- Loose or missing teeth
- Discolored teeth (brown or yellow)
- Excessive drooling
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
- Drop in appetite
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Blood in water bowl or on chew toys
By the time signs of advanced periodontitis appear, your dog could be in significant chronic pain, during which our pets tend to instinctively self-isolate to keep from showing weakness to predators.
Unfortunately, the effects of periodontal disease don't stay confined to your pup's mouth. The condition can cause issues with major organs and lead to diseases affecting their internal organs, like their heart, kidneys, liver and more.
What causes periodontal disease?
Bacteria in your pooch’s mouth can accumulate and eventually develop into plaque, which meets other minerals and hardens within two to three days. Calculus then forms on the teeth and gets more difficult to scrape away.
The immune system will begin to fight this buildup of bacteria, causing reactions such as inflamed gums and more obvious signs of gum disease.
Poor nutrition and diet can also factor into whether or not your pup will develop periodontal disease. Other environmental factors (like grooming, the cleanliness of their toys and the alignment of their teeth) can as well.
How is periodontal disease in dogs treated?
The cost of dental procedures like teeth cleanings may vary depending on the amount of care that is provided by your vet, the needs of your pet and other factors. Your companion will likely need to have bloodwork conducted before being put under the effects of anesthesia to make sure they are healthy enough for the medication.
Any dental procedure should include:
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- Anesthesia monitoring
- A complete set of dental radiographs
- Circulating warm air to ensure patient stays warm while under anesthesia
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic and oxygen
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Local anesthesia such as novocaine, if any extractions are needed
- Scaling, polishing and lavage of gingival areas
- Pain medication during and after the procedure
How can I prevent my dog from getting periodontal disease?
Fortunately, we pet parents can prevent our pooches from getting periodontal disease, and the condition can be treated and reversed - if detected early.
When it comes to your dog's oral health, don't neglect it or procrastinate. Similar to people, pets require routine dental appointments in order to keep up with oral hygiene and identify any possible oral health issues.
You’ll also have the chance to ask any questions you may have regarding at-home care, and find out how often your pet should come in for professional teeth cleanings (as those with issues may need to come more frequently).
Conduct daily brushings of your dog's teeth in order to prevent plaque and bacteria from building up in your dog's mouth and leading to unmanageable situations.
There are also dental chews, dog food and chew toys designed to address dental disease and reduce tartar development. But fair warning: don’t try to replace brushing with these - think of them as an add-on to regular oral care). If you notice inflamed or swollen gums, missing teeth or even appetite changes, book an appointment immediately.
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.