Periodontal disease is one of the most common health problems among dogs and cats. Without proper dental care and professional cleanings, many pets lose or break teeth. They may also suffer from inflammation, infection, and diseases affecting the major organs of the body.

To learn more about periodontal disease in pets, the team at Dupont Veterinary Clinic has put together an overview of the condition and how you can protect your pet.

Dental Disease 101

Dental disease (periodontal disease) is not just a disease that affects the teeth; it also impacts the gums and structures of the face and jaw. This disease is caused largely from a buildup of plaque and tartar.

When plaque and tartar are not addressed, “pockets” in the gum line begin to form, collecting bits of food and other particles. Over time, this can lead to infection and abscess, as well as infections that can spread to the bone and other tissues.

The American Veterinary Dental College outlines the 4 stages of periodontal disease in pets. Unfortunately, by the time many pets are brought in to be examined, they’ve already developed some form of this disease, making tooth brushing alone no longer effective.

Symptoms of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Redness or inflammation of the gums
  • Bleeding around the gums, especially after brushing
  • Weight loss, difficulty eating
  • Reduced self-grooming
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Loose or worn teeth
  • Facial swelling
  • Drooling

Ongoing dental disease has been linked to heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and infections of the liver and kidneys.

Treating Periodontal Disease in Pets

When diagnosing periodontal disease, we must first get a look at what’s happening below the gum line. This is often accomplished with radiographs (x-rays) to determine the severity of the disease, as well as other lab tests and diagnostics to evaluate the presence of systemic damage.

For most pets, it’s advised to proceed with anesthesia-supported cleanings, which can remove the buildup of plaque and tartar and address any infections.

Depending on the extent of periodontal disease, annual cleanings may be necessary, as well as nutritional changes and other supports.

Prevention is the Best Approach

Thankfully, through education and early proactive measures, you can prevent dental disease from occurring in your pet.

With this in mind, frequent tooth brushing is one of the best practices you can implement at home. Starting your pet out at a young age with dental care is key, and there are a number of helpful online videos about how to brush your cat or dog’s teeth. We’re also happy to instruct you during your pet’s wellness check-up.

Additional measures, such as a dental-specific prescription diet or veterinarian approved dental chews, can also be great ways to keep your pet’s dental health in good order.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please give us a call.