Common Periodontal Disease In Dogs
Periodontal diseases take many forms in dogs, just as they do in humans. A buildup of plaque or tartar on your dog’s teeth is just the first step toward many different dental problems including bad breath, gingivitis, and periodontitis. Pet parents need to know the basics about common periodontal disease in dogs including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Also known as halitosis, bad breath may be caused by more than just the buildup of plaque and tartar – it could be caused by bacteria in the mouth. Brachycephalic, or short-faced, breeds like Pugs, Pekingese, and Boston Terriers are the most susceptible to bad breath, mainly because their teeth are close together. In addition to the bad odor itself, halitosis may cause other symptoms including pawing at the mouth, loss of appetite, loose teeth, and excessive drooling. This disease may be secondary to other diseases such as diabetes mellitus, respiratory problems, or even gastrointestinal problems. Treatment for halitosis may vary depending on the cause of the problem, but it typically involves professional cleaning and polishing of the teeth. In some cases, medications may help to reduce mouth odor and to control the bacteria causing it.
Gingivitis involves inflammation of the gums and it is typically the result of accumulated food particles on the dog’s teeth. These food particles provide a breeding ground for bacteria which may reproduce rapidly, causing not only inflammation of the gums but also irritation, infection, and bleeding. As the bacteria multiply they may form a thick plaque which then mineralizes and turns into tartar. Small breed dogs as well as brachycephalic breeds are particularly prone to developing this disease because their teeth are very close together. Poor nutrition and lack of regular dental cleaning can also result in gingivitis in dogs. Treatment for this disease typically involves a thorough dental cleaning above and below the gum line – in most cases, sedation or general anesthesia is required for a veterinarian to perform this procedure. Once the teeth and gums are cleaned, an antibiotic gel may be applied to soothe the inflamed gums and to promote healing.
Also sometimes referred to simply as gum disease, periodontitis in dogs can be serious. At the onset of the disease, symptoms are usually mild and go unnoticed but as the disease progresses, obvious symptoms like chronic pain, missing teeth, and even bone loss may manifest. Other symptoms of periodontitis in dogs may include bleeding gums, bad breath, ropey saliva, and chewing only on one side of the mouth. In mild cases of periodontitis, treatment may involve a thorough dental cleaning. In serious cases involving bone loss, a thorough cleaning of the tooth root and bone may be required in addition to a special therapy to help regrow the tissue and bone. When over 50 percent of the bone has been lost, tooth extraction is the only option left.
Monitoring and maintaining your dog’s dental health is incredibly important. If you fail to take your dog in for regular dental check-ups and cleanings, he could develop a serious disease that may not only impact his ability to eat but could lead to more serious conditions. Learning the signs of dental disease in dogs is the first step toward preparation.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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