Periodontal disease is capable of threatening your dog's oral health as well as their overall health. Here, our Oakland vets explain this disease as well as its symptoms, causes and options for treatment.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontitis is a bacteria which can infect your dog's mouth. Usually, this silent disease doesn't show any obvious symptoms or signs until it is in an advanced stage
However, gum disease can cause chronic pain, gum erosion, bone loss and tooth loss for your dog.
When bacteria and food builds up in your pup's teeth, they can develop into plaque which, if not brushed away, can harden into tartar.
These substances cause inflammation and irritation to your dog's gums and are an early stage of gum disease.
In the following stage, the attachment between your pet's gums and teeth begins to weaken, which progresses even further as the infection runs it course.
What are symptoms of periodontal disease in dogs?
Here are some symptoms of canine periodontitis to watch for:
- Excessive drooling
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Bloody or “ropey” saliva
- Blood on chew toys or in water bowl
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Problems keeping food in mouth
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
By the time this disease has reached an advanced stage, your dog may be in significant pain, which they will instinctively hide to avoid showing weakness to predators.
Periodontal disease can also cause significant health problems in your pet's major organs like their heart.
What causes periodontal disease?
Bacteria in your dog's mouth. if not brushed away, builds up into a plaque. When combined with other minerals, hardens into tartar, a calculus which is quite difficult to scrape away.
Once their immune system begins to fight this bacteria buildup, your pup's gums inflame.
Your dog's diet can play a factor in this disease's development. Other contributors can also be dirty toys, grooming habits, the misalignment of their teeth and general oral hygiene.
How is periodontal disease in dogs treated?
The cost of dental procedures for your dog may vary based on the level of care your vet is able to provide and the amount of care your pup needs.
Any dental procedure should include:
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- A complete set of dental radiographs
- IV catheter and IV fluids
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic and oxygen
- Anesthesia monitoring
- Scaling, polishing and lavage of gingival areas
- Pain medication during and post-procedure
- Any extractions that may be required, local anesthesia such as novocaine
- Circulating warm air to ensure patient remains warm while under anesthesia
How can I prevent my dog from getting periodontal disease?
Fortunately, periodontal disease in dogs can be prevented, treated and reversed if detected early.
Make sure you don't neglect your dog's oral health. They need regular oral health checkups just as much as people do. your pup should see your Oakland vet at least twice a year for an oral health evaluation.
There, your vet will also advise you about how best you can provide at-home oral health care for your pet.
Prevent problems from taking hold between appointments by brushing your dog’s teeth daily to prevent plaque and bacteria from forming (choose a toothpaste specially made for dogs).
There are also chew toys, dog food and dental chews specifically designed to address dental disease and reduce the development of tartar (but don’t attempt to use these to replace brushing - they are a supplement to regular oral care). If you notice swollen or inflamed gums, appetite changes or missing teeth, book an appointment immediately.