If your dog is experiencing the painful symptoms associated with periodontal disease then you may be wondering how this condition is treated and what you can do to prevent this condition from returning. Today our Rockland County vets discuss periodontal disease in dogs and how it can be treated and prevented.
Periodontal Disease in Dogs: How Does it Affect Your Pup?
Periodontitis - otherwise known as periodontal disease or gum disease - is a form of bacteria that can infect your pup’s mouth and start to cause a variety of issues. Much like tooth decay in people, periodontal disease in dogs may not develop any noticeable symptoms until it is in its advanced stages.
If your dog is at the point of experiencing painful symptoms and conditions such as chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss then your dog is most likely already experiencing the symptoms of advanced periodontal disease.
What is the Underlying Cause Behind Periodontal Disease in Dogs?
When your dog goes without routine oral health care and cleaning, 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. Once tartar forms on your pup's teeth you may be unable to easily scrape it away.
If this condition continues to be untreated then the gums will eventually recede 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.
Jaw fractures are relatively common if you have a small breed dog that is experiencing advanced 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.
What Signs of Periodontal Disease Should I Monitor My Dog For?
If this condition is still in its early stages then you typically won't see any signs at all, but once it becomes advanced then you might begin to notice symptoms such as:
- 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
It's important to note that periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. Chronic pain is the leading concern when it comes to periodontal disease but there are severe issues that could develop in this situation.
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 Will My Dog Be Treated if they Develop Periodontal Disease?
If your dog has been diagnosed with periodontal disease or you are recognizing the symptoms then you should schedule your pup for a professional cleaning or other treatment as soon as possible. Your vet can recommend the appropriate course of action depending on the severity of your dog's oral health problems.
The cost of your dog's dental care will vary depending on the treatment required and the individual vet.
Your vet will need to perform a complete oral examination which will require the use of anesthesia. (Pre-anesthesia blood work is also an important step to determine whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia medications).
Dental procedures for dogs typically 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
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. When it comes to proper oral health care for your dog there are two main components.
Professional Cleanings & Dental Exams for Your Dog
To help prevent periodontal disease in your dog, be sure not to neglect your pup's oral health. 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.
Caring For Your Dog's Teeth 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. Remember that oral health issues in dogs can be very painful.
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.