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How to Treat & Prevent Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Routine oral care, including brushing, professional exams and teeth cleaning, is a vital part of keeping your pup healthy. Unfortunately, it often gets missed. Here, our Westminster veterinary specialists talk about dental health and how to treat and prevent periodontal (gum) disease in dogs. 

What is periodontal disease in dogs?

Periodontal disease is often referred to as gum disease. It is a condition caused by a build-up of plaque on a dog's teeth which eventually causes infection or other health issues.

In the early stages of periodontal disease, your dog may not display any signs or symptoms. In its more advanced stage, symptoms include chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion or even bone loss.

What are the causes of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar. This happens when their teeth aren't properly cared for. Once tartar forms on your pup's teeth, it becomes more difficult to scrape away and often requires professional intervention.

As the tartar buildup on the teeth, your dog's gums will begin to recede. At this more advanced stage, you may begin to see abscesses, tissue and bone deterioration, and even teeth loosening and falling out. In small and toy breeds, advanced periodontal disease can even lead to jaw fractures.

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.

Signs that Your Dog Has Periodontal Disease

While the signs may be subtle until the condition is advanced, the common signs of periodontal disease include:

  • 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
  • Irritability
  • Problems keeping food in the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody or “ropey” saliva

Periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. Not only can it be painful, but it also has negative effects on your dog's bodily health as bacteria on the gums can travel into the bloodstream and affect major organs like the heart or kidney. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your pup, take them to the vet right away.

How to Treat Periodontal Disease in Dogs

When you bring your dog in for periodontal disease, your vet may recommend a professional cleaning or other treatments depending on the severity of the dog's oral condition. The cost of your dog's dental care will vary depending on the treatment required.

A thorough examination of your dog's gum health and condition will require 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:

  • A pre-anesthetic physical assessment
  • A complete oral examination 
  • Teeth cleaning 
  • Teeth polishing 
  • Dental X-rays 
  • Fluoride treatment 
  • Dental sealant 

Preventing Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Prevention of this disease is relatively easy; in many cases, you can avoid periodontal disease by regularly brushing your dog's teeth and bringing them for annual or bi-annual dental checkups.

Brushing between appointments helps keep your dog's mouth clean and breaks down plaque before it can build up. You may also want to offer your dog dental chews or toys specially designed to clean dog teeth when chewed.

If your pooch is displaying symptoms of periodontal disease such as swollen or inflamed gums, appetite changes or missing teeth, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

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.

Is your dog showing signs of oral discomfort? Contact our Westminster veterinary specialists today to book a dental examination.

New Patients Welcome

Choice Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary specialists are passionate about improving the health of Westminster animals with complex healthcare needs. Contact us today.

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