Dog Periodontal Disease: Stages and Treatment

Even the most diligent dog owners may find themselves slipping at times on the care and maintenance of their pet’s teeth and gums. However, dental care should remain an important aspect of your pet’s overall health to prevent any long-term issues.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common ailments for dogs, with statistics showing that 80 percent of dogs older than 3 years old are affected by the condition. And it’s not just a teeth issue. Dental diseases can also harm the kidney, liver, heart, and other internal organs. Jaw fractures are also a major concern with dogs that suffer from periodontal issues.

Don’t forget to utilize your local, experienced veterinary provider to ask about oral care for your pet. Vets can help you understand the oral health of your pet and give you some tips on how to take care of your dog’s teeth. Find out more about periodontal disease in dogs, treatment and prevention strategies with this guide.

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What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the supporting tissues of teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to progressive tissue damage, chronic pain, gum erosion and tooth loss. The damage can be devastating to your pet.

What does gum disease look like in dogs?

There are no real outward signs of gum disease. Dogs have a different makeup in their mouth than humans, which makes them far more susceptible to gum disease. That, combined with the fact that dogs don’t brush their teeth every day, allows plaque-forming bacteria to rapidly grow. Most symptoms are not spotted until gum disease has already set in, but owners should pay attention to these signs:

  • Loose teeth
  • Blood in their water bowl
  • Problems picking up food
  • Bad breath
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth

Are there dog periodontal disease stages?

There are multiple stages of periodontal disease. However, if you aren’t taking your pet in for regular check-ups and cleanings, you may miss the warning signs of these dog tooth decay stages.

  • Stage 0: Teeth are clean, and gums are flat and pink. You may see some tartar developing.
  • Stage 1: Tartar begins building up and gums begin to redden.
  • Stage 2: Gums continue to be swollen and bone loss begins to develop.
  • Stage 3: Bone loss continues to occur.
  • Stage 4: Severe bone loss can lead to loss of teeth and bloody gums.

How fast does periodontal disease progress?

It only takes several weeks for plaque to start building up on your dog’s teeth. If left unchecked, periodontal disease will grow rapidly. A study of 52 miniature schnauzers showed that 98% of the dogs had developed some level of periodontitis within 30 weeks of stopping toothbrushing.

How to treat a dog’s red swollen gums?

If you suspect the early stages of periodontal disease, take your pet to the vet. They may recommend that your dog have a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gumline. Then, you should begin a regular oral care routine once the swelling has subsided.

Is periodontal disease reversible in dogs?

Only the first stage of the disease is reversible. Inflammation of the gums can be reduced with proper care. After that stage, bone loss becomes a factor, and it can’t be returned to its previous state. But, stopping the bone loss as early as possible will prevent the disease from advancing to its latter stages and more permanent damage.

What should I do to keep my dog’s teeth healthy?

There are several steps you can take to keep your dog’s chompers looking and feeling good. The first is by brushing your dog’s teeth: This prevents tartar and plaque buildup. Vets suggest introducing your pet to having their teeth brushed. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by commanding a simple “sit and stay.”
  • Open their mouth and start scrubbing their teeth and gums very gently with a soft brush. If they move their head away, repeat step one.
  • Gradually, scrub the hard-to-reach areas, like the base of the gums and molars.
  • Once you’re done, give them a treat so they’ll think positively of tooth brushing.
  • Continue doing this at least three times a week until they get used to the routine.

Secondly, giving your pet teeth-friendly toys that are designed to aid in healthy tooth care is a fun way to help your dog’s health. Rubber balls and thin rawhide strips can help strengthen your dog’s teeth and gums. Keep your pet away from hard toys that can accidentally cause chips or fractures of the teeth.

Finally, give your dog quality food. Talk with your vet to determine what works with your pet’s diet, but many manufacturers make food that aids in the oral care process. Utilize the advice of the Veterinary Oral Health Council, which tests dental products and gives a seal of effectiveness to those that help reduce tartar buildup.