Periodontal disease in dogs: what is it?

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Doença Periodontal em cães: o que é?

Periodontal disease in dogs is assumed to be one of the main pathologies observed in companion animals. In the case of dogs, it is the most common dental pathology.

It is therefore important to understand what it is, how it manifests itself, how to prevent it and what are the possible treatments.

Periodontal disease in dogs: what is it?


Periodontal disease in dogs consists of a bacterial infection in the mouth.

It is caused by the accumulation of dental plaque and tartar on the teeth, promoting inflammation. It affects the teeth and the surrounding structures that support them (gums and bones).

How is plaque and tartar formed?

When our best friends eat, the accumulation of leftover food, saliva and the bacteria that inhabit the oral cavity begin to form a sticky substance on the teeth: plaque. Later, and over time, its hardening can lead to tartar: a calcified plaque (Niemec, 2012).

This situation may not seem strange to you, since we, too, are susceptible to plaque and tartar.

Development stages

Periodontal disease in dogs: what is it?

Periodontal disease can be characterized by stages, depending on the level of inflammation.

Step 1

The first stage consists of inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), resulting from the presence of tartar:

– It is reversible;

– Swollen gums may be seen;

– Redness close to the tooth can be observed;

– Although there is already tartar, it is not visible to the naked eye.

Step 2

The second phase consists of the earliest periodontitis itself:

– There is some loss of bone mass (less than 25%), visible on radiographs;

– There is a small separation between the gum and the tooth;

– Medical intervention is necessary to clean / remove plaque and tartar;

– It is reversible;

– You will be able to observe the natural inflammation of the gums, bad breath, as well as plaque and tartar.

Step 3

This phase is characterized by moderate periodontitis and the lesions are considered serious:

– There is a loss of bone mass between 25% and 50%;

– The gums are swollen and irritated and can bleed easily;

– Your best friend will have bad breath and considerable pain;

– Infected and / or damaged teeth must be removed.

Step 4

The last phase consists of chronic periodontal disease.

– There is a severe loss of bone mass (more than 50%);

– Your bigeye will be in severe pain;

– There is a risk of losing several teeth;

– Risk of infection in Organs internal organs. The bacteria may enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.


Periodontal disease in dogs: what is it?

The first signs of periodontal disease are difficult to recognize.

If your big dog has these symptoms, it means that you may be suffering from this pathology:

– Bad breath;

– Loss of appetite and / or weight;

– Red and swollen gums

– Gums in blood;

– Saliva with blood;

– Chew only on one side of the mouth;

– If blood appears in water or chew toys;

– Possible loss of teeth, as well as fractured teeth;

– Pain when opening or manipulating the mouth;

– Loss of interest / difficulty in chewing and / or playing with toys;

– Difficulties to collect food;

– Lumps in the mouth (lumps);

– Sneezing and nasal secretions.

If you notice any of these signs, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.


Periodontal disease in dogs: what is it?

Several studies indicate that, at two years of age, most dogs are, in some way, affected by periodontal disease (Niemec, 2012; Stella, Bauer & Croney, 2018).

Prophylactic measures thus assume a leading role:

  1. Brush your bigeye’s teeth

When left untreated, periodontal disease is progressive.

Thus, oral cleaning is not only essential, it must be the first preventive measure to be taken.

– Brush your dog’s teeth twice a day (VCA Hospitals). The recommendations indicate a minimum of 3 times a week;

– You should get your dog used to it since he was little, so that it is not a traumatic moment for him and for you. If your best friend discovered his family as an adult, don’t despair. It takes a little longer to get used to, but it is truly essential.

– Inquire at the Veterinarian about the best brush to use. Don’t use ours.

  1. Choose a good quality feed

Once again, ask your veterinarian about the best feed.

  1. Offer specific toys and treats

Basically, make sure you have objects and foods that make your bigeye chew daily and prevent plaque.

  1. Make regular appointments with the Veterinarian

Routine / check-up consultations are essential to ensure that your best friend is healthy (at all levels).


Periodontal disease in dogs: what is it?

Treatment for periodontal disease varies according to the degree of infection and, according to VetSmart, the main purpose of treatment is “to restore physiology, anatomy and function, preventing inflammation, tissue loss and eventual loss of teeth ”.

A diagnosis is defined by the Veterinarian, through a thorough examination and / or radiographs. The phase in which your bigeye is in will be identified and the procedure to be determined.

In general, although with different treatments and under general anesthesia:

– In stages 1 and 2 of the disease, it is necessary to clean the mouth;

– In stages 3 and 4 of the disease, in addition to cleaning, it is necessary to remove one or more infected teeth.

Since the procedures imply that your best friend is under general anesthesia and the natural existence of inherent risks, there is nothing like prevention and routine consultations. Like this, brush your bigeye’s teeth daily, make sure he has toys and goodies to nibble on, ensure proper nutrition and consult your veterinarian.


Niemec, B., A. (2012). Periodontal Disease: Using Current Information to Improve Client Compliance. Practical Dentistry, pp 61-66.

Stella, J., L .; Bauer, A., E .; Croney, C., C. (2018). A cross-sectional study to estimate prevalence of periodontal disease in a population of dogs (Canis familiaris) in commercial breeding facilities in Indiana and Illinois. PLoS ONE 13 (1): e0191395.

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