If your dog suffers from periodontal disease then they will have a buildup of bacteria on their teeth and gums which can lead to serious complications. Today our Los Angeles veterinary dentists talk about preventing periodontal disease in dogs and what signs to watch for.

The Effects of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Periodontal disease has several names. Your veterinarian may also mention periodontitis or gum disease. These three terms all refer to the same condition. Periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria in your dog's mouth, which can lead to a variety of problems. Unfortunately, the symptoms of gum disease do not usually appear until the disease is advanced.

When periodontal disease symptoms appear, your dog may already be experiencing ongoing pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss as the supporting structures of your dog's teeth deteriorate.

What are the causes of dog periodontal disease?

Every time your dog eats, bacteria and debris accumulate on their teeth. This bacteria can harden into a hard substance when combined with the minerals present. This substance is known as tartar. Tartar on your dog's teeth becomes more difficult to remove once it has formed. 

If left untreated, tartar will continue to accumulate and eventually pull the gums away from the teeth, creating pockets in the gums where bacteria can grow and become infected. Abscesses may form at this stage, tissue and bone deterioration may occur, and your dog's teeth may begin to loosen and fall out.

If you have a small breed dog, this condition may result in jaw fractures.

Poor nutrition and diet can also contribute to the development of periodontal disease in dogs. Other factors that can contribute to periodontal disease in dogs include dirty toys, excessive grooming, and crowded teeth.

Commonly Seen Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

There are typically few or no signs at all of periodontal disease while the condition is in the early stages. If this condition becomes more advanced then you may begin to spot the following symptoms:

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

Periodontal disease can have serious health consequences for your dog. When the disease progresses to the advanced stages, your dog may experience significant chronic pain, but that's not all.

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

How will the veterinary dentist treat periodontal disease? 

If your dog is developing or exhibiting symptoms of periodontal disease, your Los Angeles dog or cat dentist may advise professional cleaning or other treatments, depending on the severity of your dog's oral health issues.

The cost of your dog's dental care will vary depending on the procedure and the veterinarian.

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

What are some ways to prevent dogs from developing periodontal disease?

If still in the earlier stages of the disease, it can be treated and effectively reversed. There are two key approaches to caring for your dog's oral health. 

Routine Dental Care with the Pet Dentist in Los Angeles

Don't neglect your dog's oral health to help prevent periodontal disease. Routine oral care, such as professional exams and cleanings, is critical for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of a variety of dental issues, including periodontal disease.

Your dog's dental appointments at the vet are the same as going to the dentist. Most dogs should visit their Los Angeles pet dentist every six months for an oral health evaluation.

These appointments allow you to speak with your dog dentist about any concerns you have about your dog's teeth or overall health.

At-Home Dental Care For Your Companion

Brush your dog's teeth daily to remove plaque and prevent bacteria from forming between appointments to prevent problems from developing. You may also want to give your dog specially formulated dental chews and dog food, as well as fun-to-chew dental care toys, to help address dental disease and reduce tartar buildup.

If your dog is displaying signs of periodontal disease, such as swollen or inflamed gums, changes in appetite, or missing teeth, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Remember that oral health problems in dogs can be excruciatingly 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.

Do you need to schedule your canine companion for routine dental care? Contact our vets in Los Angeles to request an appointment.