Learn about the causes and symptoms of periodontal disease in dogs by reading this article

Although the signs may not be pronounced, dogs commonly suffer from periodontal diseases. Periodontal disease impacts the overall health and well-being of canines. Read this comprehensive guide to causes, symptoms, and prevention of periodontal diseases in dogs.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

  • It is the most common and progressive dental condition in dogs. It is caused by bacterial growth in the mouth. The bacteria slowly and progressively damage the teeth’ bones, gums, and supporting structures.

Unfortunately, the signs are visible until periodontal disease reaches an advanced stage in dogs. Therefore, paying attention to preventive dental care for your dog is crucial.

Causes Of Periodontal Disease In Dogs

  • When teeth are not brushed regularly, a plaque containing harmful bacteria accumulates. Over time the plaque mineralizes and turns into dental calculus, commonly known as tartar. Tartar harbors more bacteria around the teeth, thus causing gingivitis which eventually goes deeper down the structures of teeth. The body’s inflammatory response system reacts to the inflammation and destroys soft tissues and the bone that supports teeth.

Stages And Symptoms

Periodontal disease progresses in four different stages. Therefore, early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent tooth loss.

Stage 1

  • In the first stage of periodontal disease, inflammation of the gums occurs. This condition is known as gingivitis. The disease can be reversed at this stage if the canines receive appropriate dental care.


  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding during brushing
  • Smelly breath

Stage 2

  • Up to 25% of the tooth structures are lost in stage 2 of periodontal disease. In addition, bone loss may be visible on x-rays.


  • Symptoms of gingivitis include puffy and bleeding gums
  • Gum recession may be present

Diagnosis and treatment are critical to prevent progression to the next stage.

Stage 3

  • In stage 3, 25-50% of the supporting structures are lost. Moderate to severe bone loss can be found on x-rays. In addition, abnormal periodontal pockets are created.


  • Swollen gums that bleed upon brushing or chewing
  • Bad breath along with moderate gum recession
  • Teeth become loose

Stage 3 can be treated with advanced dental treatment and diligent home dental care. However, tooth extraction becomes inevitable once the periodontal disease reaches stage 4.

Stage 4

  • X-rays and periodontal probing indicate loss of more than 50% of the tooth’s supporting structures.


  • Exposed tooth root
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Presence of pus around the teeth

Tooth extraction is usually the only option at stage 4 of periodontal disease.

Prevention Of Periodontal Disease In Dogs

Regular Toothbrushing

  • Brush your dog’s teeth daily
  • Start brushing as soon as the dogs have adult teeth or at six months of age.
  • Avoid brushing when a puppy is teething to prevent pain and discomfort.

Use Tooth Care Products

  • Some commercial products work well to decrease plaque and reduce the risk of gingivitis. These include dental wipes, oral rinses, dental chews, etc.

Consult with your veterinarian to choose the right product or a product from the list of dental products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

Preventive Veterinary Teeth Cleaning

  • symptoms of periodontal disease in dogsRegular teeth cleaning sessions are crucial for optimal dental care. Veterinarians use aroma therapy and sound therapy to keep your pet calm during the procedure. In addition, dental health issues such as gingivitis and bleeding gums can be detected during this time, and the session can be tailored accordingly.

For treatment of periodontal disease or professional teeth cleaning of your pet, book an appointment with Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center. We perform various dental services to help keep your pet’s mouth looking and feeling great. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available; call us at 434-971-9800.