As a pet parent, preventing your pet from experiencing illness, discomfort, and pain is a required responsibility. The thing is, most pet owners don’t know what the basic care needs are, and this can lead to the very things we want to avoid. With oral health as one of the low-hanging fruits of pet care, learning how to tell if your dog has gum disease can play a critical role in your long-term care plan. Hopefully, you’ll never see signs of dental problems, but if you do, you’ll know how to deal with it right away – before it gets really serious.
The root cause of gum disease is poor oral care. Many pet parents don’t know that they have to establish an at-home oral care routine that includes daily tooth brushing. This alone can prevent gum disease from ever rearing its ugly, stinky head.
In the absence of good oral care, the signs and symptoms of gum disease begin to arise in stages. Let’s take a closer look.
Stage 01 – Gingivitis
This stage is characterized by red, slightly inflamed gums. You will notice a thin red line along the gumline next to the teeth. This is due to a buildup of plaque and tartar allowing harmful bacteria to make themselves home.
Stage 02 – Early Periodontitis
When the infection is allowed to progress into early periodontitis (aka gum disease), the real problems begin. This stage is characterized by bone loss (less than 25% as viewed by an oral radiograph), foul breath, visible plaque and tartar, and increased inflammation. This will require a professional cleaning to address the issue and prevent further damage to the oral cavity.
Stage 03 – Moderate Periodontitis
This is where the serious damage begins to occur. This stage is characterized by accelerated bone loss (25-50% as viewed by an oral radiograph), increasingly rotten breath, observable infection, gum bleeding, abscess, and gum separation from teeth (forming periodontal pockets). At this stage, the pain will be immense and requires immediate attention. This stage may require dental surgery to remove infected bone, teeth, or gums.
Stage 04 – Chronic Periodontitis
Chronic periodontitis is the most extreme stage. This is characterized by more than 50% bone loss (as viewed by an oral radiograph), extreme pain, an infection that is getting into the bloodstream, potential organ failure, and multiple tooth loss. Immediate attention is required to prevent an early fatality.
The good news is that you don’t have to let things get as bad as stage four gum disease. In fact, you don’t even have to let it get to stage one. All you need to do is establish a regular oral care routine. This routine includes:
Daily tooth brushing with a proper pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste.
A yearly professional dental exam and cleaning.
Establishing a proper diet rich in whole-food (human quality) ingredients.
The use of appropriate chew toys
Providing raw bone or antler to chew (appropriate to mouth size and bite strength).
Provide adequate exercise (at least 20-minutes of up-tempo panting per day)
Lots of love and affection
When you can establish these key bullet points, not only will your pet have great oral health, they will be set up for overall lifelong health as well. When you take the initiative to establish a regular routine that includes everything your pet needs to be happy and healthy, both you and your pet are better off. You don’t have to worry about your pet silently suffering in pain (and the expense of fixing these painful problems), and your pet gets to enjoy and long and pain-free life.
Once you know how to tell if your dog has gum disease you can keep close attention to the signs. The root of the matter is to become aware that your pup can suffer serious dental problems if not properly cared for. Once you establish a regular oral care routine, dental problems should be a thing of the past. If you are unsure if your dog is having dental issues, bring her in for a checkup. We are always here to help and would rather get ahead of serious dental issues before they arise. We look forward to hearing from you!