Dog periodontal disease is an infection of the periodontium due to plaque buildup around your dogs teeth. Dog periodontal disease is also known as dog gum disease and is one of the most common diseases in dogs today. It is estimated that approximately 80% of all dogs have some form of dog periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old. There are four periodontal disease stages.
As a pet parent, it’s difficult to accept that your dog likely has some form of dog gum disease. Most of the time periodontal disease goes undetected and is untreated which leads to other significant health issues down the line. The following information will help you determine if your dog has periodontal disease and what you can do to help. We will also review the dog periodontal disease stages to help you determine what stage of dog gum disease your dog has.
How do dogs get periodontal disease (dog gum disease)?
Dogs develop periodontal disease due to food particles accumulating along the gum line and bacteria build up in the area. Plaque forms when minerals combine with saliva which leads to inflammation of the gums. Evidence of plaque and tartar build-up on the teeth located close to the gum line is a sign of gingivitis which is an early stage of periodontal disease.
Usually, dog periodontal disease starts with one tooth and begins to work its way to the other teeth in the mouth if it is not properly treated. Typically, it’s very difficult for a dog owner to even notice that their dog has periodontal disease — especially stage 1 periodontal disease since their are little symptoms and pet owners don’t typically check their dogs mouth.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
- Loose teeth
- Red gums
- Bleeding gums
- Difficulty picking up food
- Blood on chew toys
- Blood in the water or food bowls
- Bloody saliva
- Lumps or bumps in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Nasal discharge
- Black spot of dog tooth
In Stage 1 dog periodontal disease, it may be difficult to even notice inflammation of the gums since dogs often times don’t let you look in their mouth to closely examine their teeth. However, by the time Stage 4 periodontal disease in dogs occurs you should notice many of these symptoms.
Dog Periodontal Disease Stages
Stage 1 Periodontal Disease
Stage 1 Periodontal Disease shows signs of gingivitis but the tooth and gum aren’t separated from each other yet. You should notice the gums will start to appear bright red where the infected tooth is. In addition, you may also notice unusual swelling, a swollen gum line, or bleeding when brushing your dogs teeth. Often times, bleeding from the gum lines after a tooth brushing session is the first sign of Stage 1 Periodontal Disease.
Stage 2 Periodontal Disease
Stage 2 Periodontal Disease is characterized by a 25% attachment loss between the gum and tooth. You’ll start to notice that as the dog gum disease progresses that the gum tissue begins to recede from the tooth which may expose some sensitivities to your dogs tooth. At Stage 2 Periodontal Disease, you’ll start to notice your dogs consistently bad breathe as well as the exposure of the tooth to the gum.
Stage 3 Periodontal Disease
Stage 3 Periodontal Disease stage reveals a 25% to 30% gum attachment loss which exposes more of the tooth. At Stage 3 dog gum disease, you’ll notice that your dog’s gum has significantly eroded from the tooth. At this stage, dog periodontal disease should be rather obvious: red and bloody gums, receded gum line, bad breath at all common symptoms of stage 3 periodontal disease.
Stage 4 Periodontal Disease
Stage 4 Periodontal Disease is considered advanced periodontitis which is more than 50% attachment loss and is the most severe periodontal disease stage. At Stage 4 Periodontal Disease, the gums will be severely irritated, swollen, and bleed very easily when brushing teeth. As the disease progresses the gum tissue will continue to recede and expose the roots of the teeth. At stage 4 periodontal disease, often times surgery or other extreme measures are required. There may be severe consequences if this disease is left untreated.
Causes of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
A wide range of factors causes periodontal disease in dogs. The most common causes of the disease are Actinomyces and Streptococcus bacteria. Dogs with crowded teeth, have poor nutrition, and groom themselves are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Preventing Dog Gum Disease
- Brush your dog’s teeth twice a day or develop some sort of regular weekly cadence of brushing your dog’s teeth
- Take your dog for regular oral exams and cleanings at least once a year with a veterinarian
- Feed your dog healthy dog food. Some dog foods even have “dental diets” that contains food to help scrub plaque off your dogs teeth. While you shouldn’t rely solely on food to clean your dogs teeth, this type of food can be helpful.
- Offer toys that your dog can chew on. The more that your dog chews, the more plaque that they can scrape off which helps prevent dog periodontal disease. Look for treats like balls, bones, or other rubbery toys that won’t cause gastrointestinal problems or their puppy teeth to break off.
The goal is to minimize the amount of bacteria that will develop in a dogs mouth as they eat food. As a pet owner, you have the power to prevent your dog from developing gingivitis and periodontal disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene for your dog is essential to preventing the disease. Always monitor your dog’s condition and keep all veterinarian appointments to prevent the disease.
Diagnosis of Periodontal Disease in Dogs
The diagnosis is determined by a veterinarian. A dog is considered to have periodontal disease when there is an appearance of two millimeters between the tooth and the gum that has gingivitis.
During a dog oral exam, X-rays are important because it reveals what’s hidden beneath the gum line. Surprisingly, 60% of periodontal disease symptoms are hidden under the gum line. Even the early stages of the disease will reveal loss of density and sharpness of the root socket margin. As the disease gradually gets worse, it will reveal loss of support around the tooth that is affected with gingivitis.
Is periodontal disease reversible in dogs?
Yes, to an extent. However, treatment depends on the severity of the disease. If your dog is in the early stages of periodontal disease treatment will focus on preventing attachment loss and controlling plaque. Treatment in the early stage of the disease includes brushing your dog’s teeth, using a pet-safe toothpaste, professional teeth cleaning, and applying fluoride to teeth.
Once dog gum disease reaches stages 2 and 3, treatment involves cleaning the space that has developed between the teeth and gums. Usually, an antibiotic gel is applied to the area to rejuvenate the affected gum and decrease the size of the space.
Advanced stages of periodontal disease in dogs require treatment that can include bone replacement, guided tissue regeneration and periodontal splinting. In addition, your dog may also need surgery to remove the tooth completely, have the tooth replaced, or have a dog root canal.
Veterinarians often schedule a follow-up appointment to check on the healing process. Going forward the veterinarian will continue to advise you on how to care for your dog’s teeth and gums at home while scheduling weekly, quarterly and half-yearly checks ups.
Can periodontal disease kill my dog?
Untreated periodontal disease can cause the following issues:
- Compromised immune system
- Higher risk of developing heart disease that can lead to death
- Complications with diabetes
- Broken jaw
- Spread of infection
Periodontal disease may contribute to a dog’s death by exposing them to immune system issues as well as developing heart disease. However, periodontal disease doesn’t normally cause a dog’s death by itself even if it left untreated.
Conclusion for Dog Periodontal Disease Stages
There are four different dog periodontal disease stages that measure the amount of gum that has receded from your dog’s tooth. Stage 4 Periodontal Disease is the worst of the dog periodontal disease stages that contains over 50% gum recession. Generally speaking, you will notice symptoms of gum redness and bleeding, bad breath, or dark spots building up your dogs teeth.
Dog gum disease is caused by the bacteria buildup between the gum and the tooth. It can be prevented by regularly brushing your dogs teeth, having regular veterinarian checks, feeding your dog healthy food, and giving them toys to chew on.
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