Identifying Common Canine Dental Diseases

Dogs, like their human companions, can experience a host of dental ailments. In fact, dental disease is one of the most common issues veterinarians encounter when treating dogs.


Statistics indicate that as many at least 80% of dogs have a dental disease by the age of 3. At Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit, we can attest to its prevalence as we work with dogs every day that are affected by some type of dental disease.


Dogs can benefit from good oral hygiene routines, just like the people in their lives, by brushing regularly with toothpaste that is safe for them to ingest. In addition, certain dog chews help reduce or remove tartar build-up, some types of dog food are specifically designed to help with plaque removal and water additives are even available to help combat tartar and plaque.


But, when canine dental disease persists, veterinary treatment is often unavoidable. Again, like in humans, untreated dental diseases can lead to other health problems, such as organ damage and chronic bacterial infections. Untreated dental diseases can even lead to dental fractures and abscesses, which is why it’s important to follow proper hygiene recommendations, be familiar with the signs of dental disease and seek veterinary care if symptoms raise a red flag.


Here are some of the most common dental diseases in dogs.


Gingivitis. Known as inflammation of the gums, gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. And, the good news is, it has the potential to be reversible. Gingivitis is caused by a bacterial infection from excess plaque on the teeth. Bacteria has the ability to creep into small spaces between the teeth and gums and trigger inflammation. Gingivitis is typically accompanied by bad breath and bleeding gums. 


Stomatitis. As a more severe form of gingivitis, stomatitis involves more tissues and deeper inflammation. For a dog, it can be painful and result in a diminished appetite. In addition, a dog’s coat may start to become unkempt, as well. 


Periodontal disease. This condition involves a combination of inflamed gums and infected tissues as gingivitis and stomatitis progress untreated. As the infection deepens into the tooth socket, it may start to destroy the bone and lead to tooth loss. 


Dental cleanings, with veterinarians like the professionals at Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit, are recommended to help a dog avoid developing any dental disease. While each dog is different and has its own challenges and circumstances, dental cleanings with a vet generally involve pre-anesthesia blood work to check kidney and liver function, a comprehensive cleaning to remove tartar above and below the gumline, scaling, polishing, cleaning and potentially a fluoride treatment.


To gain a true understanding of your dog’s risk for dental disease, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit or your preferred veterinarian. The sooner a professional identifies any potential problems, the sooner a treatment plan can get put in motion.


Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit is a trusted veterinary team serving the Phoenix, Peoria and Tucson metro areas, with accessible locations in each market, offering highly specialized surgery, quality spay and neuter procedures, and accessible  dental care for pets. Contact us to learn more about our specialized services or to schedule an appointment.   

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