Gum disease in dogs can cause discomfort, dental health problems and, if left untreated, it can lead to deeper issues. Knowing how to spot the signs of gum disease in dogs will help keep the issues at bay and prevent potential long term health problems.
Cause of gum disease in dogs
Bacteria is the main cause of gum disease in dogs, also known as periodontal disease. Bacteria - along with food, saliva, and other particles - forms a sticky film called plaque over your dog’s teeth. Your dog's immune system tries to clean up the plaque by releasing enzymes that can break down gum tissue. This leads to inflamed gums and destroyed tissue, and if left untreated, further gum disease.
Because dogs can’t brush their teeth they tend to have more plaque, meaning there's more potential for disease. Sometimes it’s easy to miss the early signs of gum disease in dogs, mainly because your dog can’t tell you what’s wrong or may try to hide any pain they have. However, there are signs you can look out for to help keep them in good health.
Symptoms of gum disease in dogs
You should examine your dog’s gums and mouth regularly for signs of gum disease. Bad breath is the most obvious sign, but look out for reddened, bleeding or swollen gums, crusted yellow-brown tartar build-up on the teeth and drooling.
Other signs can be obvious from your dog's behaviour. Depending on how long you’ve had your dog or how familiar you are with their habits you may notice them having problems picking up food or making noises when they eat. You may also find that they’re leaving blood in their water bowl or on chew toys, or producing more nasal discharge or ropey saliva.
If your dog displays any signs or symptoms of dog gum disease mentioned above, or you have any concerns, the first thing to do is take your dog to the vet for an examination. Some of the bacteria may be hiding below your dog's gum line and a dental X-ray can reveal the extent of any bacterial damage.
To help take care of your dog’s dental health, give your dog Purina® DentaLife® once a day. Its chewy, porous texture and ridged design helps to clean even the hard-to-reach areas, and it also freshens breath for a deep clean. Speak to your vet if you’d like more information on how you can help to maintain your dog’s oral hygiene.