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Periodontal Disease in Dogs - How to Stop and Prevent Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Periodontal disease can have a negative effect on your dog's dental health along with their general health. What is periodontal disease in dogs, and how can you prevent it? Our Central Illinois vets discuss how to help keep your dog's mouth healthy. 

What is periodontal disease in dogs?

Also called periodontal disease or gum disease, periodontitis is a form of bacteria that can infect a dog's mouth and begin to cause many issues. Much like tooth decay, cavities and gum disease in humans, dogs with periodontal disease usually don't show obvious symptoms until the condition reaches more advanced stages. 

When symptoms of periodontal disease do start to appear, your dog may already be suffering from ongoing pain, gum erosion, tooth loss or even bone loss as the structures supporting your dog's teeth weaken or are lost. 

Why does my dog have periodontal disease?

Bacteria can gradually build up in your dog's mouth, then develop into plaque, which combines with other minerals and starts to harden into tartar over a few days. Tartar then forms on your dog's teeth and becomes more difficult to scrape away. 

Left untreated, tartar keeps building up and eventually causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, leading to pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow. these pockets then become infected and abscesses can begin to form. Bone and tissue may then start to deteriorate, which can lead to loose or missing teeth. 

Advanced periodontal disease can also lead to jaw fractures in small and toy breed dogs. 

Development of periodontal disease in dogs can also be related to poor nutrition and diet in some cases. Other contributing factors may include dirty tyous, crowded teeth and excessive grooming habits. 

What are signs of periodontal disease in dogs?

You may see very few, if any, signs while periodontal disease is in its early stages. However, if it progresses to advanced periodontal disease, you may notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Inflamed or bleeding gums 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Problems keeping food in the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
  • Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Bloody or “ropey” saliva

It's important to note that periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. Once the disease reaches the advanced stages your dog could be experiencing significant chronic pain, but that's not all.

The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel throughout your dog's body, potentially causing problems with major organs and leading to serious medical issues such as heart disease.

How Is Periodontal Disease Treated In Dogs?

If your dog is developing or suffering from the symptoms of periodontal disease your Central Illinois vets may recommend professional cleaning or other treatments 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. 

For your vet to perform a thorough examination of your dog's teeth and gums, as well as any treatments necessary, the use of anesthesia will be required. (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:

  • IV catheter and IV fluids
  • Dental radiographs (x-rays)
  • Pre-anesthesia blood work
  • 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. There are two key approaches to caring for your dog's oral health. 

Professional Cleanings & Dental Exams for Your Dog

To help prevent periodontal disease in your dog, be sure not to neglect your dog's oral health. Just like people, your dog needs regular dental appointments to keep their oral hygiene in order and to identify any issues that may be arising before more serious issues develop.

Your dog's dental appointments at the vet are just like taking your dog to see a 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 dog with fun-to-chew dental care toys to help address dental disease and reduce the buildup of tartar.

If your dog 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.

Is it time for your dog's dental checkup? Contact our Central Illinois veterinarians today to book an appointment. 

Caring for Pets in Central Illinois

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