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What is periodontal disease in pets?
Dental Disease

What is periodontal disease in pets?

Did you know that periodontitis is the most common disease of animals? Yet it often gets confused with gingivitis. Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gingiva and this represents the earliest stages of periodontitis.

Periodontitis describes inflammation of not only the gingiva but other structures of the periodontium (ligaments, gingiva connective tissue, and alveolar bone forming the tooth socket). Once advanced periodontitis occurs the changes are difficult to reverse!

According to Hills Pet, it’s all about bacteria in the mouth.

This type of disease affects the structures in the mouth that surround and support teeth — known as periodontal tissues. For dogs, the culprit of periodontal disease is bacteria.

What are the 5 major signs?

Discolored teeth

Here are some red flags telling you that it’s time for an oral exam!

  1. Red swollen gums
  2. Bad breath
  3. Discolored teeth
  4. Bleeding gums
  5. Cats will frequently stop eating, this is a sign that you need to visit the vet.

How do you prevent periodontal disease in dogs?

The goal is to prevent periodontal disease by having your dog examined by your vet at least twice a year. Their annual wellness exam should include an oral exam.

During the oral exam, it will be determined if your dog is ready for a dental cleaning. Dental cleaning procedures (non-anesthetic or anesthetic) will prevent periodontal disease and early periodontitis can be reversed so make sure you watch for the early signs above! Some animals will only need dental cleanings every few years and others may need them more often. Some animals are predisposed to having bacteria build-up in their mouth.

Non-anesthetic dental cleanings are as effective as anesthetic dental cleanings for routine and preventive cleanings.

Hills Pet also tells us that if your vet suspects advanced periodontal disease they’ll recommend your dog undergo a dental cleaning and an X-ray under general anesthesia to fully assess their oral health.

The texture of the diet, toys, and treats can affect the self-cleansing mechanisms of the teeth.

How do you treat periodontal disease in dogs?

Plaque and calculus removing

For patients with periodontal disease, the treatment goal is the removal of plaque and calculus from the teeth. General anesthesia is necessary to provide access to the subgingival areas, where bacteria can contribute to local and sometimes systemic inflammation.

What does gum disease look like in dogs?

Some early signs of gum disease include bad breath, tartar, and sometimes a red line of inflammation along the gumline.

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What about our feline friends?

Dental disease

Cats can hide symptoms of dental disease for months or even years. Sometimes owners that did not realize their cats had dental disease cannot believe the change for the better after a dental procedure. For cats especially, it is very important they have regular oral exams by your vet.

Focusing on preventing advanced periodontal disease in your pets is extremely important. Our pets need regular dental cleanings and their teeth should be brushed daily! Always offer safe toys and treats for daily chewing too.


Christy Caplan

Christy Caplan has over 10 years of experience covering the pet industry. As a certified veterinary technician, she uses her knowledge to inform stories on health and wellness topics.

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