The Signs and Symptoms of Dental Disease in Dogs (Don't Ignore Them!)

The Signs and Symptoms of Dental Disease in Dogs (Don't Ignore Them!)

Dental disease is a common issue among pets, especially dogs. It is caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth and gums, leading to inflammation, infection, tooth decay, broken teeth, and eventually tooth loss. If left untreated, dental disease can also cause serious health problems, including heart, liver, and kidney disease. It is important to recognize the signs of dental disease in dogs and to take steps to prevent and treat the condition.

What is periodontal disease in dogs?

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that can cause inflammation and damage to the tissues surrounding the teeth. It is caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which can harbor harmful bacteria that infect the gums and other oral tissues. If left untreated, the bacteria can continue to spread, causing further damage and potentially leading to tooth loss.

Several factors can contribute to the development of periodontal disease in dogs including poor oral hygiene and tartar build-up. Dogs with periodontal disease may have bad breath and be more likely to develop tooth loss and infection.

What causes dental disease in dogs?

The most common periodontal disease in dogs is gingivitis, which occurs when bacteria in the mouth cause inflammation of the gums. Other causes of periodontal disease include

  • food particles that get stuck between teeth and under the gum line and;
  • tartar buildup on teeth caused by improper brushing or no brushing at all.
The tartar can't be removed with regular brushing alone; it must be scraped off by your veterinarian or dental hygienist during a professional cleaning appointment (called scaling).

Signs and Symptoms to Look Out for In Dog Dental Disease:

Bad Breath: If your dog has persistent bad breath, it could be a sign of poor dental care. The odor is caused by bacteria in the mouth and can indicate obvious signs of infection, tooth decay, or plaque buildup. 

Difficulty Eating: Dogs with dental disease may have trouble eating or may avoid certain foods. This can be due to pain or discomfort when chewing. Excessive drooling is one of the clinical signs of bacterial infection.

Red or Swollen Gums: Healthy gums should be a pale pink color. If your dog's gums are red or swollen, it could indicate inflammation and infection.

Bleeding: Dental disease can cause bleeding from the gums, especially when eating or brushing.

Tartar Buildup: If you notice yellow or brown buildup on your dog's teeth, it could be tartar, a sign of plaque buildup.

Tooth Loss: In advanced cases of dental disease, dogs may lose their teeth. Loose teeth in dogs can be caused by several factors, including dental disease, injury, or congenital conditions.

Excessive Drooling: This is the most common symptom of dental disease in dogs. If your dog is drooling more than usual, or if there are large amounts of saliva around his mouth, this could be a sign that there's something wrong with his teeth!

Difficulty Eating or Swallowing: Dental disease can also cause difficulty eating or swallowing food as it becomes stuck between the teeth (this is known as "malocclusion"). If you notice that your dog has difficulty chewing on dry kibble, try moistening it with some water first before feeding it to him so he can swallow easier!



    What happens when dental disease in dogs is not treated?

    If dental disease is not treated in dogs, it can lead to a number of serious health problems, including:

    • Pain and Discomfort: Dental disease can cause pain and discomfort in the mouth, making it difficult for dogs to eat and drink.

    • Tooth Loss: Advanced periodontal disease can result in the loss of multiple teeth, which can affect your dog's ability to chew and digest food properly.

    • Infection: Bacteria from the mouth can spread to other parts of the body, causing infections in the heart, liver, and kidneys. Without proper treatment, oral infection will result in gum disease. Monthly professional teeth cleanings can reduce tooth root, heart diseases, and bacterial build-up on the tooth surface!

    • Bone Loss: Dental disease can cause loss of bone around the affected teeth, leading to tooth instability and eventual loss. Daily dental cleaning is essential to reduce the manifestations of common diseases.

    • Systemic Health Issues: Chronic inflammation from untreated dental disease can have a negative impact on a dog's overall health and well-being. This may require dental examinations, oral examinations, and other forms of dental care that will greatly improve your pet's oral health care.

    • Reduced Quality of Life: Dogs with untreated dental disease may experience pain and discomfort, difficulty eating, and other health problems, reducing their quality of life.
    • Jaw Fracture: When teeth become severely decayed or infected, the surrounding bone tissue can weaken, which can lead to fractures of the jawbone.
    • Oronasal Fistula: Oronasal fistula is another potential complication of advanced dental disease in dogs. It is a hole that forms between the mouth and the nasal cavity due to damage to the upper teeth and gums. This can cause difficulty breathing, discharge from the nose, and other health problems. In some cases, surgery may be required to repair the oronasal fistula.

      What can you do to prevent dental disease in dogs?

      Dental disease is a common health problem in dogs that can lead to a range of health issues, from tooth loss to systemic infection. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent dental disease in your furry friend. Here are some things you can do: 

      • Maintain good oral hygiene and daily brushing for optimal oral care.
      • Brush your dog's teeth regularly with a toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste.
      • Provide your dog with chew toys and bones to help remove plaque and tartar.
      • Feed your dog a balanced and nutritious diet.
      • Take your dog for regular check-ups and cleanings at the vet.
      • Avoid giving your dog sugary treats or human food, as sugar can contribute to plaque buildup.

       If you suspect your dog has dental disease, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Your vet can perform a dental exam and clean, and may also take x-rays to assess the extent of the problem. In some cases, a dental procedure may be necessary to remove infected or damaged teeth.

      In conclusion, dental disease is a serious issue for dogs and can have serious consequences if left untreated. By recognizing the signs and taking steps to prevent and treat the condition, you can help keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy and avoid more serious health problems in the future.

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