Gum disease is usually silent and can be devastating in its advanced stages. When it starts there are no outward signs or even symptoms, but it will eventually cause chronic pain, eroded gums, loss of teeth and bone. Regrettably gum disease is common in dogs, fortunately it doesn’t have to go down this road, and can be prevented.
The causes can be blamed on bacteria that almost immediately begin after an animal eats. The food, bacteria, saliva and other particles begin to form a sticky film that is called plaque on the enamel of the teeth. Plaque does a lot of things, but one thing it does in both humans and pets is cause our immune system to recognize it as a foreign invader. This invader causes the immune system to send white blood cells to attack the plaque which creates enzymes that begins to break down gum tissue. The skirmish between the plaque and white blood cells leads to inflamed gums, destroyed tissue and eventually bone and tooth loss if not treated.
Also called periodontal disease it actually happens five times more often in dogs than in humans because dogs have a more alkaline mouth and this is a great environment for plaque to form. Humans can usually control this with regular brushing and flossing but most pets don’t get this daily treatment which gives plaque forming bacteria a great chance for multiplying.
Symptoms are typically not noticed by owners until the pet has advanced gum disease. By that time the pet has been living with chronic pain for a long time. We can recognize these symptoms when we see our four legged friend having problems picking up food, bleeding or red gums, loose teeth, blood on toys, bad breath, lumps in mouth, not wanting their head touched, chewing on the side of the mouth, sneezing or bloody nasal discharge.
Please don’t let your pet suffer these symptoms, rather schedule an exam and have an annual dental cleaning and use recommended home dental care methods. .