You may have heard warnings about gum disease from your dentist. But did you know that dogs are also vulnerable to this condition? Periodontal (gum) disease can affect dogs of all ages and breeds, and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Continue reading to learn how to prevent periodontal disease in dogs and the treatments available. 

What Is Periodontal Disease, and Why Do Dogs Get It?

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums. It starts with the formation of plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that accumulates on a dog’s teeth. Without regular brushing, plaque will harden into tartar that can only be removed during a veterinary dental cleaning. 

The buildup of plaque and tartar causes the inflammation that leads to periodontal disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease starts to affect the deeper tissues surrounding a dog’s teeth, including the bones that hold the teeth in place. Untreated gum disease results in decay that causes severe tooth pain and, eventually, tooth loss. 

Dogs are more vulnerable to periodontal disease than humans because they tend to accumulate more plaque and tartar on their teeth. And because your dog can’t brush their own teeth or schedule a dental cleaning appointment on their own. It’s up to you to protect them from periodontal disease. 

How to Prevent Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Preventing periodontal disease in dogs starts at home with a good dental hygiene routine. Here are some steps you can take to prevent periodontal disease in your dog. 

1: Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is the most effective way to prevent periodontal disease. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth once a day. But if you have a busy schedule, brushing one to three times a week is better than simply not brushing at all. 

Make sure to use a toothbrush and toothpaste that are specifically designed for dogs. It’s also important that you slowly ease into training your dog to have their teeth brushed in order to minimize stress. 

2: Provide Dental Chews

Dental chews for dogs work like mouthwash for humans—they can’t replace the power of a toothbrush, but they do help eliminate plaque. When your dog eats a dental chew, they get a tasty treat that also cleans their teeth. It’s important to select dental chews that are specifically designed for your dog’s dental health, and to avoid those that contain grains, fillers, or sugars. 

3: Feed Them a High Quality Diet

Feeding your dog a healthy diet can also help prevent periodontal disease by promoting good dental health. Choose a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and avoid feeding your dog table scraps. 

You should also limit treats to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories. This will help prevent obesity, which can weaken a dog’s immune system and make it harder for them to fight off gum disease. 

4: Schedule Veterinary Checkups

Regular veterinary checkups are key in preventing periodontal disease and keeping your dog healthy. Only immediate intervention can prevent gum disease from progressing and ensure that your dog doesn’t lose their teeth. During a checkup, we can identify any signs of dental issues and provide a thorough teeth cleaning or another appropriate treatment. 

Seven Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

If you notice any of the following signs of periodontal disease in your dog, it’s time to contact your vet for treatment:

  1. Bleeding or inflamed gums
  2. Loose or missing teeth
  3. Tooth discoloration
  4. Bad breath
  5. Decreased appetite
  6. Bloody saliva
  7. Excessive drooling

Treatment for Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Treating gum disease in dogs starts with professional teeth cleanings. During a cleaning, your dog is anesthetized and their vitals are closely monitored while we remove all the plaque and tartar from their teeth. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat gum infections. And in severe cases, tooth extractions or gum surgery may be necessary to restore your dog’s oral health and relieve their pain. 

Dog Teeth Cleaning in Gilbert, Arizona

Help your dog avoid periodontal disease by scheduling annual teeth cleanings. At Anasazi Animal Clinic, we’re experienced in providing thorough dental cleanings to prevent periodontal disease in dogs and cats. We can also spot any signs of gum disease during your dog’s routine veterinary checkups. Give us a call at 480-497-0505 today to schedule a cleaning or checkup for your dog. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (4/27/2023). Photo by Andrew Pons on Unsplash