What is Gum Disease in Dogs?
According to the American Veterinary Dentistry College (AVDC) periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in adult dogs and cats, and it is entirely preventable. Gum disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form a substance called plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Then, minerals in the saliva harden the plaque, creating dental calculus (tartar), which is firmly attached to the teeth.
The AVDC mentions that by the age of three years, most dogs have some evidence of periodontal disease. Gum disease may cause multiple problems in the oral cavity and may be associated with damage to internal organs in some patients as they become older. Since the signs of gum disease are usually mild in the early stages of the disease, it is usually under-treated.
Stages of Gum Disease in Dogs
- Stage I: Mild redness and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).
- Stage II: Periodontal pockets are formed between the gum and tooth.
- Stage III: Periodontal pockets are deeper than 5mm and bone loss is present (this can be seen on a radiograph).
- Stage IV: There is a great amount of bone loss and extensive tartar buildup and gum recession.
Canine Gum Disease Symptoms
- Bad breath
- Pain when the mouth is touched
- Bleeding or red gums
- Pawing at the mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty eating
- Abnormal behaviors
- Loose or missing teeth
- Blood in water/food bowl
Treatment for Gum Disease in Dogs
Treatment of gum disease will depend on the severity of the condition. In the early stages, a deep dental cleaning, which will require anesthesia followed by biannual cleanings may be enough. Dogs with more severe periodontal disease will need surgery and dental extractions.
Cost of Treatment: $200 – $1,000
Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.