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Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Your dog's oral health is essential to their overall well-being, but sadly many dogs don't receive the at-home dental care they need to keep their gums and teeth healthy. Here, our West Salem vets explain how periodontal disease in dogs can be treated and prevented. 

What is canine periodontal disease?

Periodontitis, also known as gum disease or periodontal disease, is a condition in which plaque accumulates on a dog's teeth, resulting in infection or other health problems. In the early stages of periodontal disease, dogs usually show no visible signs. Symptoms in the advanced stage include chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, and even bone loss.

What causes periodontal disease in dogs?

If your dog's mouth is not cleaned regularly, bacteria buildup will harden into plaque and tartar. When tartar forms on your dog's teeth, it becomes more difficult to remove and often necessitates professional assistance.

Tartar will continue to accumulate and eventually cause the gums to recede. At this stage, you may notice abscesses, tissue and bone deterioration, and even tooth loosening and loss. In small and toy breeds, advanced periodontal disease can cause jaw fractures.

Some dogs may develop periodontal disease as a result of poor nutrition and diet. Other factors that can contribute to periodontal disease in dogs include dirty toys, excessive grooming, and crowded teeth.

How can I tell if my dog has periodontal disease?

As periodontal disease is fairly undetectable, you may notice the following symptoms in advanced periodontal disease:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Loose or missing teeth teeth
  • Blood on chew toys or in 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 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 necessitate anesthesia. Pre-anesthesia blood work is also important in determining whether your pet is healthy enough to receive 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 

How can I prevent my dog from developing periodontal disease?

Prevention of this disease is relatively simple; in many cases, you can avoid it by brushing your dog's teeth on a regular basis and bringing them in for annual or biannual dental checkups.

Brushing between appointments keeps your dog's mouth clean and prevents plaque buildup. You may also want to give your dog dental chews or toys that are specifically designed to clean dog teeth when chewed.

If your dog is showing signs of periodontal disease, such as swollen or inflamed gums, changes in appetite, or missing teeth, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian 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.

Do you think that your dog may have periodontal disease or another oral health condition? Contact our West Salem vets today to book an examination.

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West Salem Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of West Salem companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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