Periodontal disease can harm both your dog's general and dental health. However, what exactly is periodontal disease in dogs, and how can you avoid it? Our veterinarians at Marina del Rey will describe how you can maintain your dog's oral hygiene today.
What Is Periodontal Disease In Dogs?
Periodontitis, which is a type of bacteria, can invade your dog's mouth and lead to various problems. Like humans, dogs with periodontal disease usually do not display obvious signs until it progresses.
By the time symptoms emerge, your dog may be enduring constant discomfort, tooth loss, gum recession, or even bone deterioration as the supportive structures of their teeth are damaged or destroyed.
Why Does My Dog Have Periodontal Disease?
Bacteria gradually accumulate in your dog's mouth, forming plaque, which eventually hardens into tartar within days. Once tartar has formed, it is more difficult to remove.
If left untreated, tartar will continue to accumulate and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, creating pockets where bacteria can thrive and cause infections.
At this point, abscesses may form, and tissue and bone damage may occur, leading to loose or lost teeth.
Advanced periodontal disease in small and toy breeds can even result in jaw fractures. Poor nutrition and diet can also contribute to periodontal disease in dogs, as can dirty toys, excessive grooming, and overcrowded teeth.
What Are The Signs Of Periodontal Disease In Dogs?
There are typically few or no signs at all of periodontal disease while the condition is in the early stages, 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
- 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
It's important to note that periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. Once the disease reaches the advanced stages, your dog could be experiencing significant chronic pain, but that's not all.
The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel throughout your dog's body, potentially causing problems with major organs and leading to serious medical issues such as heart disease.
How Is Periodontal Disease Treated In Dogs?
If your dog shows signs of periodontal disease, our veterinarians at Marina del Rey may suggest professional cleaning or other therapies depending on the extent of your dog's oral health issues.
The cost of your dog's dental care will depend on the treatment needed and the specific veterinarian.
A comprehensive examination of your dog's teeth and gums and any required treatments will necessitate the use of anesthesia (pre-anesthesia blood tests are also essential to ensure 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 allow you 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 avoid issues from developing between vet appointments, brush your dog's teeth daily to eliminate plaque and prevent bacterial growth. Additionally, you can provide your dog with dental chews, dog food formulated for dental health, and enjoyable dental care toys to help manage dental disease and minimize tartar buildup.
If your dog is displaying symptoms of periodontal disease, such as swollen or inflamed gums, changes in appetite, or lost teeth, schedule a visit with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Keep in mind that oral health problems in dogs can be extremely uncomfortable.
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.
Our team of experienced veterinary professionals can help to restore or maintain your dog's optimal oral health. Contact our Marina del Rey vets to book an appointment for your dog today.