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Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Periodontal disease negatively affects the health of your dog's mouth, but it can also impact their overall health and wellbeing. Today, our Laguna Woods vets explain the disease, 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
  • Irritability
  • Reluctance to eat

There is a good chance that your dog is experiencing a lot of pain by the time the symptoms above become obvious, so it's important to contact your vet right away. The sooner your dog receives treatment, the sooner they'll start feeling better.

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

Bacteria on your dog's teeth and inside their mouth can develop into plaque, which combines with other minerals and hardens into tartar within 2-3 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

Depending on what your veterinarian determines is necessary for your dog's oral health, the cost of your pooch's dental procedures can vary widely. 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 maintain body temperature 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 be taken for oral health checkups at least once a year, depending on their unique health needs. 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 toothpaste is available that not only helps clean your pup's teeth, but can also make brushing sessions a pleasure for your pooch. Chew toys, special dog food and dental chews designed to address or prevent dental disease and reduce tartar buildup.

Keep in mind that toys, treats and chews for pets aren't a replacement for brushing, but more of 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.

If your dog requires surgery or advanced care in order to treat severe periodontal disease ask your vet for a referral for your dog to see one of our Board Certified Veterinary Specialists in Winston-Salem. Contact us to learn more..

New Patients Welcome

Laguna Hills Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our vets are friendly, experienced, and passionate about caring for the health of the cats and dogs in Laguna Woods. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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