Causes and treatment of
Gingivitis in dogs
A staggering 80 percent of dogs show oral disease by age three, making it one of the most common conditions afflicting our canine companions. This is not a surprising statistic considering only 2% of pet parents in the US take the time to brush their dog's teeth.
What is gingivitis in dogs?
Gingivitis is a medical term which refers to inflammation of the gums also known as periodonal tissues. The literal translation of ginivitis comes from "gingiva" meaning gums, and "itis" meaning "inflammation".
In dogs with healthy mouths the edges of their gums fit tightly around their teeth. In dogs with gingivitis, plaque and rough calculus have been allowed to buildup along and beneath their gum lines, producing areas where the gums are forced away from their teeth.
These areas form small pockets which trap food and bacteria. If left untreated, the gums will quickly progress to grade 4 dental disease. The gums will be red and inflammed and infected with bacteria; and in no time at all you wil have a very sick dog on your hands with all of his or her major organs involved and at risk of severe infection.
What causes gingivitis in dogs?
If your dog has bad breath; red gums instead of pink; and gums that bleed when touched (as shown in grade 11, grade 111 and grade 1V above), you can be sure your dog has an acute inflammation present to some degree. The higher the grade the higher the risk of infection.
Grades 1 and 11 are treatable, however once you allow you dog's dental disease to progress to grades 111 and 1V it is not reversable and the only option for you to take is to have his or her entire dentition extracted under a General Anaesthetic.
Gingivitis in dogs is mainly caused by inadequate or poor oral hygiene, e.g. you are not brushing your dog's teeth after he or she has eaten; and you are not providing him or her with sufficient raw bones or locally made hide toys e.g. Pigs' Ears, Dental Chew Bones or Beef Knucle Bones to chew on.
Apart from poor oral hygiene you need to be mindful of other causes of gingivitis, which are:
- crowded teeth
- eating too much soft and sticky foods
- poor chewing habits
- old age
- autoimmune disease
As with humans, plaque in dogs can re-form very quickly. To be precise, plaque will form within 24 hours of brushing your dog's teeth. Plaque that remains in your dog's mouth for longer than 2 or 3 days goes hard under the gum line, and forms calculus and food traps.
As previously stated in our segment Dental Disease Precursors, plaque and calculus are the precursors to periodontal disease
Treatment for ginigivitis in dogs
Fortunately, gingivitis in dogs is reversible if caught in the very early stages and treatment should always focused on preventing the condition from progressing to periodontitis.
Initially your vet will recommend that your dog should be professionally cleaned, which will involve a general anesthetic together with a course of antibiotics to prevent infection.
Then it is over to you to start a regular process of cleaning your dog's teeth on a daily basis just as you do your own.
Your options for preventing gingivitis in your dog
Switch to a raw diet to include soft raw bones or dental chew bones or dental chews.
If you feed you dog commercially prepared soft canned food or dry kibble then you must start brushing your dog's teeth. This is easier said than done, however it is doable and I have put together an entire article on How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth to take the hard work put of it for you.
Your dog's teeth cleaning treatment needs to be followed up by a regular routine of home oral care. In fact the treatment and after care prescribed for gingivitis in dogs is almost identical to treating gingivitis or gum disease in humans.
This article and information forms part of the Carole's Doggie World Holistic Library and is presented for informational purposes only.The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local vet. Instead, the content offers the reader information researched and written by Carole Curtis for www.carolesdoggieworld.com