Periodontal Disease in Dogs: What to Look For?


Periodontal disease is the most common oral health issue for dogs over the age of three. It is caused by food and bacteria that build up in the teeth and transform into plaque. Bacteria in plaque travels to the gums, triggering an immune response that causes inflammation, and irritation.

While this immune response helps kill bacteria, it also destroys tissue, and it may even weaken teeth structures. Periodontal disease can be caught in its early stage, which is crucial in order to establish a treatment. It is estimated that over eighty percent of dogs will develop periodontal disease during their lifetime. Oral health issues may cause other problems, which is why prevention is essential. If you suspect your dog is suffering from periodontal disease, here are some aspects to look for:

Understanding Periodontal Disease

When dental health problems are caught early, they can be easily treated with a dental formula for dogs and mild antibiotics. Periodontal disease in dogs happens in four stages:

Stage one: You can find signs of gingivitis which present in the form of inflamed or red gums.

Stage two: Inflammation affects the attachment of teeth

Stage three: When attachment loss grows up to 30 percent

Stage four: Also known as advanced periodontal disease, it’s when the gum tissue recedes, leaving teeth roots exposed

The most important symptoms include bleeding, loss of appetite, loss of teeth, irritability, excess drooling and difficulty eating. The most noticeable symptom of periodontal disease in dogs is bad breath. If you notice that your dog has developed an unusual or permanent bad breath, call your vet and set an appointment.

What Causes Periodontal Disease in Dogs?

The combination of minerals contained in food and water with plaque can harden in just two days, forming calculus. The dog’s immune system will trigger a response that leads to inflammation and pus. If there is no treatment, calculus will continue building up and will eventually pull the gums away from teeth, which creates pockets that favor the growth of bacteria.

After that, abscesses may form and teeth will eventually fall out. Older dogs or dogs with compromised immune systems are more at risk for periodontal disease. Understanding your dog’s health risks may be helpful in recognizing periodontal disease in its early stages.

Determining the Best Nutrition Plan

Poor diet leads to oral health problems and can contribute to gum disease. Understanding what you should not feed your dog, and choosing a balanced formula are great ways to prevent oral disease. In order to determine the best nutrition plan for your dog, there are several aspects to consider, such as:

  • Age
  • Breed
  • Physical Activity
  • Weather conditions
  • Size

The best way to choose a proper nutrition plan is to consult with a vet who is trained to recognize risk factors. If you discover that your dog has an unusual reaction to food, you should consult your veterinary immediately.

Oral Hygiene and Care

In order to prevent periodontal disease, hygiene plays a major role. Most vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth at least once a day. Ask them how to choose the best toothbrush for your dog and if they recommend using a cleaning product other than water.

Be careful of the types of toys that your dog chews, as hard surfaces may be a risk for tooth fracture, which can lead to periodontal disease. Always prefer veterinary recommended chew toys.

How to Treat Periodontal Disease in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog is showing symptoms of periodontal disease, the first step is to perform a thorough exam that includes x-rays. This will help determine the stage of the disease and the course of action. A first step might be the prescription of antibiotics. Depending on the stage of the disease, your vet may recommend a thorough cleanse in order to remove plaque. Polishing teeth in order to fill cavities is a way to prevent bacteria from forming new plaque.

When periodontal disease has reached stage three, your dog may need a subgingival curettage and the removal of diseased teeth. Removing diseased gums (or gingivectomy) may be necessary. Antibiotics will surely be prescribed after any of these procedures. A soft diet will also be recommended.

Prevention is Always the Best Option

Preventing disease is always better than to treat it. Maintaining your dog in shape, regular visits to the veterinary, attention to changes in their mood and eating patterns are excellent ways to avoid dog disease. Remember that regular brushing is the best way to prevent the formation of plaque, which is the first stage of periodontal disease.

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