What is Periodontal Disease in Dogs?
What is it?
How is it Treated?
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Sarah had always been proud of her dog, Cooper, a handsome and energetic Border Collie with a radiant smile. However, she recently noticed that his breath was increasingly foul, and his once pearly white teeth were now discolored and covered in plaque. Knowing the importance of dental health, Sarah wasted no time in taking Cooper to their family veterinarian for an examination. The vet’s diagnosis was clear: Cooper was suffering from periodontal disease, a common yet potentially severe oral health problem in dogs.
Periodontal disease in dogs, or gum disease, is common among dogs that cause inflammation and damage to the soft tissue and bone surrounding a dog’s teeth. It typically occurs when plaque and tartar on the tooth surface accumulate below the gum line and cause an infection that can spread to other parts of the mouth. This infection can eventually lead to tooth loss or even more severe untreated medical conditions.
It is estimated that 80% of dogs suffer from the periodontal disease over the age of three, which means that most dogs will develop the periodontal disease at some point.
The American Academy of Periodontology defines periodontal disease as “a chronic inflammatory process affecting the supporting structures of the teeth.” There are three types of periodontal disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and apical periodontitis.
- Gingivitis is milder than periodontitis, and it causes redness and swelling of the gums and makes regular tooth brushing difficult. Gingivitis usually starts with plaque buildup under the gumline. Over time, bacteria multiply and form tartar, causing the gums to become inflamed. With gingivitis, there is no bone loss or tooth attachment.
- Periodontitis is often called adult periodontitis because it typically develops during adulthoDeep pockets between teeth and gums, loose teeth, and bone loss characterized loss. Periodontitis is caused by bacterial infections that destroy the soft tissues and bones supporting teeth.
- Apical periodontitis is much rarer than other periodontal diseases. It happens when infected teeth spread into the tooth’s root canal system. Apical periodontitis can occur in people with healthy gums and regular dental hygiene. However, it can cause chronic pain and can damage the jawbone.
Causes of Gum Disease in Dogs
Recent studies show that almost 90 percent of dogs will develop some form of periodontitis by two years of age. That’s why as early as possible, we have to take care of the teeth of our fur baby to avoid periodontal disease.
This disease is caused by plaque buildup around teeth, which hardens into tartar and causes gum inflammation, leading to inflammation and, eventually, tooth loss. Other factors that cause periodontal disease includes poor oral hygiene, diabetes, stress, genetics, and certain medications. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth decay. Periodontal disease affects both large and small breeds alike.
Poor nutrition and lack of dental care contribute to periodontal disease, too. For example, dogs who eat a diet high in carbohydrates tend to have more plaque buildup, and they also tend to chew on things like toys and bedding, which get stuck in their mouths and contribute to plaque formation.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
The most common signs of periodontal disease include gingival swelling, missing teeth, and redness in the gums. Other symptoms include:
Bad Breath – Dogs often lick their lips, especially after meals, and this is normal behavior, but if your dog licks his lips excessively, he may have periodontal disease.
Loose Teeth – Loose teeth are one of the most common signs of periodontal disease. As the disease progresses, the bone supporting the teeth begins to deteriorate, causing the teeth to loosen and eventually fall out.
Bleeding Gums – As the disease continues, the gums become inflamed and bleed easily. Bleeding gums are usually accompanied by bad breath.
Drooling –Dogs with dental disease tend to drool frequently. Drooling occurs when saliva accumulates between the teeth and tongue, causing irritation and inflammation.
Other Symptoms – Besides these symptoms, dogs suffering from periodontal disease may appear listless, tired, and depressed. They may also have difficulty eating and drinking due to soreness in the mouth, which may cause weight loss in your dog.
Diagnosis of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
To diagnose periodontal disease, veterinarians use several techniques, including visual examination, x-rays, blood tests, and bacterial cultures. The most accurate method is a complete mouth exam or an oral exam, where the veterinarian examines every tooth in the dog’s mouth. This is usually done at least once during each visit.
Stages of Periodontal Diseases in Dogs
Periodontal diseases in dogs can be classified into four: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4. Each stage has its signs and symptoms, indicating that your dog suffers from periodontal disease.
- In Stage 1 of periodontal disease, gingivitis occurs when bacteria-laden plaque accumulates on the teeth below the gum line. Plaque then hardens into a substance known as calculus, which causes irritation and inflammation to the surrounding tissues. In this stage, there may be redness, swelling, and discoloration of the gums around the affected tooth or teeth.
- In Stage 2 of periodontal disease in dogs, more severe inflammation occurs as the calculus pushes farther below the gum line, causing pockets between the tooth’s root and jawbone. In addition, bacteria can now enter these pockets, further irritating surrounding tissues and causing discomfort for your pet.
- Stage 3 is also an advanced periodontal disease where the active infection starts damaging bone tissue around teeth roots and creating more oversized pockets, allowing bacteria to multiply further and lead to decay. At this point, severe discomfort for your pet can no longer be ignored.
- Stage 4 is end-stage periodontal disease in which multiple oral problems exist due to large amounts of calculus present throughout the mouth leading to bad breath and movement or shifting of teeth due to loss in bone support around them. Without proper medical intervention, your pup’s life could be at risk! Identification and treatment are essential to managing oral health problems before they worsen.
Treatments of Periodontal Diseases in Dogs
Several treatment options are available if your pet shows signs of periodontal disease—from simple home remedies to surgery.
- Home remedies include brushing daily with a soft toothbrush and rinsing his mouth with water after meals. This helps remove plaque buildup and prevent further damage to his teeth.
- Pain medication can be used to relieve discomfort associated with periodontal disease. Your vet will prescribe an antibiotic for this purpose.
- Surgical procedures include scaling and root planning, where the dentist removes tartar and debris between the teeth and roots. This procedure is usually performed every six months.
- Another option is tooth extraction, where the vet pulls out damaged teeth. Dental extractions are often performed when the animal shows pain or infection.
Dogs who suffer from periodontal disease are at risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure, and cancer. So it’s essential to keep your dog’s teeth healthy.
Prevention of Periodontal Diseases in Dogs
Make sure to seek medical advice from your vet if your dog is behaving unusually. Here are some tips to help you out:
- Oral care includes brushing your dog’s teeth twice daily, which helps avoid discolored teeth. Use a soft bristle brush, and use a small amount of toothpaste.
- Keep your dog away from foods like raw bones, hard candy, and ice cream cones. These items can cause tartar buildup and increase the risk of developing periodontal disease.
- If your dog eats dry food, ensure it contains high-quality ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, and grains.
- Make sure your dog gets regular checkups from your veterinarian. They can tell if your pet needs antibiotics or special diets.
- Do not let your dog lick his paws excessively. Excessive licking can promote plaque buildup.
- Chew toys made from natural rubber latex rubber are safe for dogs. You can even buy chew bones explicitly made for dogs.
Dry foods are also an excellent choice for your dog’s periodontal health. They are usually formulated with hard textures and small kibble sizes, making them great for getting between teeth and gums. Additionally, dry food is easier to chew, has more nutritional benefits, and can help reduce plaque build-up.
Regarding periodontal disease in dogs, dry food helps clean teeth effectively as your canine chews with its sharp canine teeth. Not only does it help promote proper oral hygiene, but it also minimizes the proliferation of bacteria that cause various dental problems.
Some of the dry foods we highly recommend are HealthyAdvantage™, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets and Canigan Dental. These are some great dry dog foods formulated to help reduce tartar, plaque, and even bad breath for your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
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