Dogs are the most adorable pets, but they can suffer from several health-related complications. Periodontal disease is a common health issue in dogs. It is an inflammation or infection that results in the loss or weakening of the structures that support teeth.
Studies show that more than 80 percent of dogs tend to show early signs of gum-related disease when they attain the age of about three years.
Why does periodontal disease happen?
The primary reason is when food and bacteria build up around the gums and forms plaque. This condition then turns into calculus, which is also known as tartar.
Calculus is the culprit which causes inflammation of the gums and irritation. The condition is known as gingivitis and is the precursor to the early stages of periodontal disease.
With time, calculus formation builds under the gums to loosen up and separate from the teeth. These spaces are conducive for the growth of bacteria, and finally, the disease becomes irreparable.
It leads to loss of bone and tissue, and ultimately the teeth fall out. It can even lead to numerous other health issues and complications.
If you find these signs and symptoms of periodontal disease in your dogs, you must consult your veterinarian at the earliest. Your veterinarian can figure out the right treatment plan and advice to sustain your dog’s oral health.
Read on to find out the causes, symptoms, and appropriate treatments for periodontal disease in dogs.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
In dogs, the symptoms of periodontal disease aren’t always noticeable. Sometimes, gum diseases are never apparent in the initial stages.
Hence, the issue progresses to a more uncontrollable advanced stage. So, it is a big responsibility of the dog owner to regularly inspect your pet’s mouth to make sure there is nothing abnormal or problematic.
Generally, periodontal disease sets in around one tooth. Then, slowly it progresses from there. In stage 1 of periodontal disease in dogs, there are signs of gingivitis. However, during this stage, the teeth do not separate from the gums.
As the disease progress to the next stage, 25 percent of the connection between gums and the affected teeth gets lost. In stage 3 of periodontal disease, the attachment loss can grow to about 30 percent.
In advanced periodontal disease or stage 4, the loss of attachment between teeth and gums is more than 50 percent. As a result, the gum tissue recedes, and then the roots of the teeth may get exposed.
Some of the most evident signs of gum disease in dogs that can ultimately lead to advanced forms of periodontal disease if left untreated are discussed here. Bleeding gums or signs of blood in food, water bowls, or on chew toys is one apparent sign of the disease.
The other visible signs are difficulty in eating, irritability, loss of appetite, irritation in the mouth, bad breath, excessive drooling, and loose teeth.
Causes of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Gum disease commonly leads to advanced types of periodontal disease in dogs, and the common cause is a build-up of bacteria and food that eventually hardens into plaque. Next, plaque can mix with minerals and further harden up in a span of just two to three days to build harmful calculus.
What the dog’s immune system does is fight against the bacterial build-up that leads to inflammation. The hard calculus continues to form and pulls the gums further away from the teeth. It creates pockets where bacteria can grow. When abscesses start to develop, the tissue and bone deteriorate. As a result, the tooth loosens.
Certain dogs are at a higher risk of having advanced periodontal disease. For example, older dogs suffer from cases of severe gum disease. In addition, dogs have compromised immune systems are usually more likely to suffer from infection and less capable of fighting off bacteria.
Poor nutrition is one of the significant causes of gum disease. Thus, diet plays a primary role in it. In addition, grooming habits and chewing behaviors can cause bacteria to grow fast.
It happens more when dogs chew on dirty bones or toys or if they have a habit of licking themselves very often. The natural alignment of the teeth can often pose a problem also.
Sometimes small or toy breeds that have crowded teeth are more prone to periodontal gum disease. But, again, oral hygiene is a crucial factor. If you do not look after your dog’s oral health, then there are high chances of your dog developing gum disease at some point.
Treatments for Periodontal Disease in Dogs
The treatment for periodontal disease in dogs starts with a comprehensive examination. X-rays conclude the stage and the degree of the damage. The most common thing that your vet might do is give antibiotics to your dog to prevent the spread of bacteria during dental work. After that, treatment depends on the result of the tests and the stage of the disease.
For the first two stages of periodontal disease, a vet does a systematic cleaning below and above the gums to remove plaque. An ultrasonic scaler is an effective device for removing calculus.
In addition, the vet can buff the teeth to fill in any cavity so bacteria cannot form plaque. In stages 3 or 4 of periodontal disease, cleaning may be given to your dog, but further treatment is still needed.
Different types of medical procedures are involved in the treatment. Subgingival curettage help in removing the problematic teeth or infected tissue.
It smoothens the root surface. Gingivectomy is another procedure in which the diseased gums are removed. Periodontal Surgery is another option to treat affected roots.
Each dog has its own needs and requirements for dental care. Therefore, the best way is to talk to your vet to know how often you need to brush your dog’s teeth and the best possible manner. Prevention is always better than cure, and it can avoid a lot of problems.