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How to Stop & Prevent Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Periodontal disease in dogs is a common yet overlooked health issue that can significantly impact your pet’s overall well-being. Understanding this condition's causes, symptoms, and preventive measures is crucial for any dog owner. This guide will help you recognize the signs of periodontal disease in dogs and provide you with effective strategies for prevention and treatment.

What is Periodontal Disease in Dogs?

Periodontal disease is an infection and inflammation of the gums and structures surrounding a dog's teeth. It begins with plaque buildup, which hardens into tartar, eventually leading to gum recession and tooth loss if left untreated. If bacteria enter the bloodstream, this condition can cause pain, difficulty eating, and even systemic health issues.

What causes periodontal disease in dogs?

If you don't regularly clean your dog's mouth, bacteria will build up and harden into plaque and tartar. Once tartar forms, it's harder to remove and may require professional treatment. If left untreated, tartar can lead to gum recession, abscesses, and even tooth loss. Small and toy breeds are particularly at risk, and advanced periodontal disease can even cause jaw fractures. Poor nutrition, dirty toys, excessive grooming, and crowded teeth can also contribute to dog periodontal disease.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Detecting periodontal disease in its early stages is vital for effective treatment. Here are some common symptoms to watch for:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Loose or missing teeth teeth
  • Blood on chew toys or in their 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 their mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody or “ropey” saliva

Periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. It can be painful and negatively affect 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, immediately take them to the vet.

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Periodontal Disease

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for identifying periodontal disease early. Your vet can perform a thorough dental examination and may recommend dental X-rays to assess the extent of the disease. Additionally, you can perform home checks by gently lifting your dog's lips to look for signs of gum inflammation, tartar buildup, or tooth loss.

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. Your dog's dental care costs will vary depending on the treatment required.

Anesthesia is required to examine your dog's gum health and condition thoroughly. Pre-anesthesia blood work is also important to determine whether your pet is healthy enough for 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?

Preventing this disease is relatively easy. You can often avoid periodontal disease by regularly brushing your dog's teeth and bringing them for annual or bi-annual dental checks.

Pushing your dog's teeth between appointments helps keep their mouth clean and breaks down plaque before it can build up. Additionally, you may want to consider offering your dog dental chews or toys specially designed to clean their teeth when chewed.

If your dog displays symptoms of periodontal disease, such as swollen or inflamed gums, changes in appetite, or missing teeth, it is important to book an appointment with your vet 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 your dog may have periodontal disease or another oral health condition? Contact our Lancaster vets today to book an examination.

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Sears Veterinary Hospital is now welcoming new cat and dog patients! We have a talented veterinary team that is passionate about providing the pets of Lancaster with the best care possible. Contact our office to book your cat or dog's first appointment today.

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