Periodontal disease not only negatively impacts the health of your dog's mouth, but it can also impact their overall health and wellbeing. Here, our Winston-Salem vets explain the disease as well as its symptoms, causes and treatment options.
Tooth Decay & Gum Disease
The bacteria periodontitis can attack your dog’s oral cavity, silently invading the mouth. Your pooch may not exhibit pervasive signs or symptoms until the disease is in its advanced stages.
That said, gum disease may cause more obvious symptoms that can impact the function of your dog’s mouth, not to mention his health: gum erosion, chronic pain and bone or tooth loss may occur. Structures that support the teeth may also be weakened or lost.
When food particles and bacteria that collect along the gum line are not brushed away with regular daily tooth brushing, plaque can develop and harden into calculus (tartar).
In turn, this can lead to the first stages of gum disease: inflammation and irritation of the gum line and surrounding areas (a condition also known as gingivitis).
Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Some symptoms of canine periodontitis that dog owners should watch for include:
- Excessive drooling
- Blood in water bowl or on chew toys
- Yellow or brown teeth
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Missing teeth
- Weight loss
- “Ropey” or bloody saliva
- Reluctance to eat
There is a good chance that your dog is experiencing chronic pain by the time the symptoms above become obvious. If your dog is displaying symptoms of periodontal disease contact your vet to book an examination for your pooch.
Periodontal Disease & Your Dog's Overall Health
Unfortunately, because your dog's dental health is closely linked to their overall physical health, the effects of periodontal disease don’t stay confined to the mouth - periodontitis can begin to cause issues in other major organs and may lead to heart disease. This is because bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and surround the heart.
Causes of Canine Periodontal Disease
Inside your dog's mouth, bacteria can develop into plaque, which combines with other minerals and hardens into calculus within two to three days. This tartar that forms on the teeth is more difficult to scrape away.
As the immune system fights this buildup of bacteria, reactions such as inflamed gums and more prevalent signs of gum disease can occur.
Poor nutrition and diet can contribute to the development of periodontal disease, as can environmental factors such as grooming habits, crowded teeth, dirty toys, and oral hygiene.
Treating Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Costs of dental procedures can vary widely, depending on the particular services your veterinarian provides, your pet’s requirements, and other factors. Blood work will be required prior to dental treatment in order to ensure your pup is healthy enough to handle the general anesthetic, which can cause problems for dogs with organ issues.
The following items are typically included in the price of your dog's dental procedure:
- Complete set of dental radiographs (X-rays)
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- IV fluids and IV catheter
- Pre-anesthesia blood work
- Endotracheal intubation, inhaled anesthetic and oxygen
- Circulation of warm air to keep pet warm while under anesthesia
- Monitoring while under anesthesia
- Scaling, polishing and lavage of gingival areas
- If any extractions are needed, local anesthesia such as novocaine
- Pain medication during and after the procedure
Preventing Dog Periodontal Disease
Fortunately, you can help to prevent your pooch from developing periodontal disease, and the condition can be treated and reversed if caught in its early stages. When looking after your dog’s oral health, be proactive - don’t neglect it or procrastinate on consulting your vet or scheduling regular appointments.
Similar to their humans, dogs need regular dental checkups to maintain oral hygiene and identify any developing issues. Your pup should attend checkups with the vet at least annually to have their oral health assessed. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about at-home care, and find out how often your pet should attend professional teeth cleanings (those with issues often need to come more frequently).
Prevent issues from developing between appointments by brushing your dog’s teeth daily to prevent plaque and bacteria from developing. Dog-specific toothpastes are available that not only help to clean your pup's teeth, but also make each brushing session a pleasure for your pooch. Chew toys, special dog food and dental chews designed to address or prevent dental disease and reduce tartar buildup.
However, be warned that these don’t replace brushing - consider them an add-on to your pet’s regular oral care routine. If you notice swollen or inflamed gums. loose or missing teeth, or decreased appetite, book an appointment with your vet right away.
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.