Inadequate dental care can lead to a number of oral health concerns like decay and gum disease. Today, our White Hall vets share some information about periodontal disease, the symptoms your dog may experience and how this condition can be treated and prevented.
The Effects of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Periodontal disease in dogs is more commonly known as gum disease. If left untreated periodiontal disease in dogs can lead to a number of serious conditions. Much like tooth decay in people, dogs with periodontal disease typically don’t show any obvious symptoms until the condition reaches more advanced stages.
By the time you begin to witness obvious signs of gum disease, your dog 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 are the causes of periodontal disease?
The gradual buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth develops into plaque then combines with other minerals and gradually hardens into tartar over a few days. This tartar is far more difficult to clear away and will require the assistance of the vet to treat.
When left untreated the tartar will continue to build up and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, causing pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow. At this stage, abscesses may begin to form, tissue and bone deterioration can occur, and your dog's teeth may start to loosen and fall out.
With certain breeds, gum disease can cause other issues. For example, small dogs are susceptible to jaw fractures as a result of periodontal disease.
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.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
With the early stages of periodontal disease, your dog may not show any symptoms. However, if your dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease they may display one or more of the following signs:
- 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
Periodontal disease is a serious condition affecting dogs and should be treated as soon as possible. Once the disease reaches the advanced stages your pooch could be experiencing significant chronic pain, but that's not all.
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 to Treat Periodontal Disease in Dogs
The first step in treating periodontal disease should be a professional cleaning and dental examination. your vet may recommend other treatments depending on the severity of your dog's oral health problems.
The cost of these treatments will; be determined by the vet clinic based on your dog, the treatments they need and the severity of their condition.
When your dog is undergoing a complete dental examination for the diagnosis of periodontal disease, the vet will place your dog under general anesthesia. They will always complete pre-anesthesia blood work to determine whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia medications.
Some of the steps of a standard veterinary dental visit 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 Ways to Prevent Periodontal Disease
Fortunately, periodontal disease can be prevented, treated, and reversed if it is detected in its early stages. The two main ways that you can help to protect your dog's health are with professional veterinary dental care and by cleaning your dog's teeth at home.
How Professional Cleanings & Dental Exams Can Help
The best thing you can do when it comes to protecting your dog's oral health is to keep up with routine professional dental care and cleanings. 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.
Your dog's dental appointments at the vet are just like taking your pooch to see a doggie 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.
Ways to Keep Your Dog's Teeth Clean 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 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. Any dental concern they may be experiencing will not only be painful but also can lead to complications.
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.