Most people have heard of gum disease and understand the effects that it can have on human oral health. However, the same condition can also affect our pets. It is known as periodontal disease or pet dental disease in the veterinary world and is the most common dental problem affecting animals in the United States. It is also significantly more likely to affect pets than humans, and in particular dogs since the alkaline environment in their mouth and a lack of daily brushing is more conducive to plaque formation that leads to periodontal disease.
What is a veterinary periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by the progressive inflammation of gum tissues that can eventually have serious consequences for your pet’s dental and overall health. This includes eventual destruction of bone, gum and other structures that holds your pet’s teeth in place. In the meantime, he will go through a range of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms.
Periodontal disease occurs when food particles and bacteria accumulate along the gum line and turn into plaque. This plaque contains bacteria and acids that spread onto the gum tissue and cause irritation, inflammation, and infection. Your pet’s immune system will try to fight this by sending white blood cells to release enzymes to break down the gum tissue. The result? Sore, swollen gums, receding gum tissue, and bone deterioration. If the infection spreads to the bloodstream, bacteria can travel around your pet’s body and reach her vital organs, putting her at risk of developing other health problems.
How do I know if my pet has periodontal disease?
Our animals have a maddening natural disposition to try and mask their vulnerabilities which can make spotting signs of any illness or dental disorder fairly difficult. The initial signs of periodontal disease are also subtle and easy to overlook. However, this doesn’t mean that you have no chance of identifying this oral health problem. Eventually, it will be impossible for your pet to hide the symptoms of periodontal disease which include:
- Loss of interest in food
- Loss of interest in chew toys
- Producing excess saliva
- Pawing or rubbing at her mouth
- Dropping food when trying to eat
- Noticing blood in her food or water bowels caused by her gums bleeding
- Gums that seem very red and inflamed
- Bad breath
- Teeth that look yellow or brown
- Obvious pain when using her mouth or when you try and look at or clean her teeth
If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms it is important that you arrange for her to be seen by your veterinary dentist as soon as possible.
Can pet periodontal disease be treated?
Unfortunately, there is no ‘cure’ for periodontal disease for humans or animals. As such, it is prudent to do everything that you can to prevent it from occurring in the first place. One of the best ways to do this is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, and most animals learn to tolerate the process very well – some even enjoy it. Our experienced pet dentistry team will be able to show you the best techniques and talk you through this aspect of your pet’s care.
Chew toys and dental chews are more important tools to try and prevent periodontal disease. Chewing stimulates your pet’s body to produce additional saliva which can counteract plaque acids and wash away bacteria and food particles before they have a chance to form plaque. Many dental chews contain ingredients that are specifically chosen because they are beneficial for oral health.
For more information on regular pet dental cleanings in Fisher, IN. Please contact us if you would like more information or advice at 317-434-1600.