Periodontal Disease in Pets: Signs & Treatment

Care & Wellness, Cats, Dental, Diagnosis, Dogs, Infectious Diseases

Do you cringe in disgust when your dog breathes in your face? Do you give a “wow” when your cat yawns? Maybe your pet has yellow fangs, or yelps whenever it goes to gnaw a hard treat. Any of these might be a sign your cat or dog is suffering from the dangerous gum disease known as periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease, A Common Problem for Pets

Dental disease is one of the most common diseases in our pets. It is thought that by the age of 3 years about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease starts when bacteria forms a plaque on the teeth, and this plaque will harden and adhere to the teeth as tartar. Tartar on the teeth can be seen by the owners. The periodontal disease will then spread under the gums affecting the structures surrounding the teeth. The end stage involves tooth loss, and periodontal disease can be very painful. If you’ve ever had a tooth infection you might understand how painful these tooth problems can be.

Signs Your Pet Could Have Periodontal Disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Drooling or dropping of food
  • Eating food on one side of the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss

However, don’t wait for these symptoms to get your pet checked out. Most pets show no signs of dental disease in the early stages and some pets may never show signs of how painful their mouth is — Small animals are instinctively programmed to hide signs of pain or sickness.

Dental Disease Is Preventable

Regular brushing! Start your new kitten and puppy on daily brushing. Start with your finger, a finger brush, or a washcloth and gently wipe the teeth. It will be a slow process to begin with and will require lots of encouragement to get a good cleaning. Eventually, you may want to move up to a toothbrush and pet toothpaste (don’t use human toothpaste!).

Remember that daily brushing is the key to preventing dental disease because plaque can harden into tartar in as little as 36 hours!

What If My Pet Already Has Periodontal Disease?

If you’re in the Spotsylvania area, schedule a visit with us today so we can examine your pet and determine what stage of dental disease they may have.

Dental disease can be treated with dental cleaning and extractions as needed. Dental cleanings and treatment will require your pet to go under anesthesia, which allows us to also do a more thorough exam of the teeth. We will take dental radiographs of your pet’s teeth to determine if there is a problem under the gum-line and clean above and below the gumline. Extractions may be necessary depending on the level of dental disease, and in some cases, your pet may be referred to a dental specialist for advanced dental care.

Remember: Dental procedures, including anesthesia, cleanings, and extractions, can be costly when compared to regular preventive visits! The more preventive care you perform at home, and the more you routinely visit your veterinarian, the more you’ll save — and the more you’ll save your pet from unnecessary pain and other health issues. Contact us today to schedule a dental appointment or to learn more about our care options.

For further reading on the subject, visit this American Veterinary Dental College’s information page.

Spotsylvania Animal Hospital provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog or cat. Learn more about us!

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