Has your pet’s smelly breath caused you to avoid their kisses? Have you noticed them chewing on one side of their mouth, or dropping their food on the floor? These signs can indicate your pet has periodontal (i.e., dental) disease. Dental disease affects two-thirds of the pet population in the United States, which is a startling fact. Our Parker Center Animal Clinic team wants you to be aware of periodontal disease’s seriousness, the condition’s causes, and its prevention.

Pet periodontal disease overview

Periodontal disease inflames and infects the tissues that surround the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligaments, and alveolar bone. The disease is typically caused by plaque and tartar accumulation on the teeth, which harbors bacteria that irritate the gums and lead to infection. Bacterial invasion and chronic infection, as a result of periodontitis, can damage your pet’s major organs such as their heart, liver, and kidneys.

Periodontal disease’s primary cause in pets is poor dental hygiene. When you ensure your pet receives at-home and professional dental care, you help prevent them from developing dental disease. When pets consume food, plaque, a sticky bacterial film, forms on their teeth, and if not removed through toothbrushing, the substance hardens into tartar (i.e., calculus). Other factors that contribute to pets’ periodontal disease risk include:

  • Genetics — Some pets are prone to dental problems based on their breed and genetic makeup.
  • Age — Older pets are prone to oral health issues if they have not received dental care throughout their life. After years of plaque and tartar buildup, periodontal disease often develops. 
  • Diet — Feeding your pet a diet that is high in carbohydrates or includes no ingredients that promote dental health can accelerate plaque formation. This is likewise true if you feed your pet sugary treats and processed food, which are not only bad for their dental health but also for their general health.
  • Inadequate dental care — Inadequate dental care, including if you forgo brushing your pet’s teeth regularly and forget scheduling their routine professional dental cleanings, increases your furry pal’s periodontal disease risk. 

Pet dental problem signs 

Recognizing your pet’s periodontal disease signs is crucial for early intervention, but you may not see the signs or think they are normal. Your pet likely has dental disease if they exhibit any of these signs: 

  • Bad breath (i.e., halitosis)
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Yellow or brown tartar on the teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or eating
  • Pawing at the mouth or reluctance to be touched around the mouth area
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loose, broken, or missing teeth

Pets often mask their pain and discomfort, so you need to ensure that your pet has routine wellness visits. Your Parker Center Animal Clinic veterinarian is your go-to source for your pet’s dental issue diagnosis.

Can dental disease be treated in pets?

Periodontitis can be treated, but early intervention is your greatest ally in fighting this condition’s effects. Our team will recommend your pet’s treatment options based on the severity of your pet’s dental disease: 

  • Mild or early periodontal disease treatment — Our team’s protocol for treating early dental disease stages includes a professional dental cleaning during which we scale and polish the teeth above and below the gumline. Additionally, a prescription dental diet and other homecare products may be recommended. 
  •  Moderate to advanced periodontal disease treatment — Late-stage periodontitis often requires a professional dental cleaning, decayed tooth extraction, and reducing gum pocket depth to maintain an affected tooth’s structural integrity. We also prescribe antibiotics and other medications to manage your pet’s discomfort and treat their infection. 

Pet periodontal disease prevention and at-home care

Preventing pet periodontal disease starts with establishing a routine dental care regimen. To keep your four-legged friend’s teeth and gums healthy, follow these tips:

  • Brush your pet’s teeth regularly using a soft-bristled toothbrush suitable for their size. Because the toothpaste you use is toxic to pets, always use pet-safe toothpaste.
  • Provide your pet with dental chews and treats that help eliminate plaque and tartar buildup. 
  • Regularly schedule your pet’s annual dental checkups with our Parker Center Animal Clinic team, so we can assess your furry pal’s oral health and tailor their treatment plan to their unique needs. 
  • Feed your pet a nutritious diet, such as a dental-specific or prescription formula diet, to ensure your furry pal’s dental and overall health.
  • Monitor your pet’s oral hygiene by looking at your pet’s teeth and gums regularly. If changes (e.g., gum redness, bad breath, bleeding) occur, promptly seek veterinary care.

Periodontal disease is a prevalent yet preventable condition that can significantly impact your pet’s quality of life. Prioritize your furry pal’s dental hygiene and seek regular veterinary care, so you can help safeguard your pet’s oral health and well-being. Our Parker Center Animal Clinic team wants your pet to have a bright smile, so schedule your furry pal’s dental checkup with us.