What is Periodontal Disease and How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting It?
Just like people, dogs and cats can develop dental diseases. In fact, periodontal disease is one of the most common medical conditions that occurs in pets. Without regular tooth care, a majority of dogs have some form of dental disease by the age of three. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a dentist to combat plaque and make sure your dog is safe from the health risks of periodontal disease.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is the result of an infection caused by plaque buildup on the surface of the teeth close to the gum line. Through contact with saliva and specific minerals, the plaque turns into tartar on the surface of the teeth. Tartar creates a rough texture on the teeth and if not managed, it can continue to build, making removal outside of a veterinary visit very difficult.
Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gum tissue, precedes periodontitis, and if not managed, will eventually develop into periodontal disease. Periodontitis is a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Symptoms of periodontitis can include bleeding of the gums, swelling of the gums, and the loss of bone around the teeth, resulting in loose teeth or even loss of teeth.
How can this affect my dog?
By the age of three, if your dog hasn’t received regular tooth brushing from you or had a dental visit to the vet, it is likely that your dog may have some form of periodontal disease. If the disease is not managed, it can affect your dog’s overall health. Later in life, if periodontal disease remains untreated, your dog may start to have trouble eating kibble as his teeth will be painful with any pressure, due to the loosening of the teeth from the gums and possible tooth loss. Additionally, the bacteria that builds up around the gum line may be absorbed into the bloodstream and could potentially cause other health issues, such as heart, liver, or kidney disease, as well as an increased risk of diabetes.
How can I help prevent this?
Simply put – brush your dog’s teeth. It’s all about prevention. It’s always recommended to start brushing your dog’s teeth when they are a puppy so that they become accustomed to it. However, if your dog is older and you don’t brush their teeth yet, it’s always better to start late than never. Ask your veterinarian on tips for cleaning your dog’s teeth and where to obtain the appropriate tools.
If your dog’s teeth have so much tartar build up that regular brushing won’t remove it, talk to your veterinarian about a professional dental cleaning. Once your dog has received a professional cleaning, start regular brushing at home to make sure that cleaning doesn’t go to waste!
Finally, you can help your pup’s teeth by replacing their milk bones with dental treats or chews. This allows your dog to have a satisfying snack, and they will never know that it is benefiting their dental health at the same time!
Periodontal disease can have serious health consequences for your dog, but luckily, all it takes is some maintenance and care to prevent plaque and tartar build up and keep your dog’s teeth looking pearly white!