Did you know that dogs can get dental cavities? Just like in humans, poor oral hygiene can lead to your dog developing cavities. Today, our Monterey Park vets offer tips on how to prevent cavities in dogs and what to do if your dog has one.
Cavities, (a.k.a caries) happen for the same reason in both humans and dogs. A cavity is an area of damage to a tooth caused by prolonged exposure to the bacteria found in food. When the bacteria sit on the teeth for a long time they cause acid to build up which eats away at the outer layers of the tooth causing decay and damage.
Over time the enamel on your dog's tooth will be destroyed and the root of the tooth will be damaged. In severe cases, this will result in loss or necessary removal of the tooth.
Although canine cavities are relatively rare due to the low amounts of sugars and acids in most dogs' diets, some breeds are more likely to get them than others. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, bulldogs, poodles, and Shih Tzus are all predisposed to have higher instances of tooth decay.
Signs Your Dog Might Have A Cavity
It can be hard to see early indications of cavity development before it causes advanced tooth decay. This is why your pup needs to visit the vet for regular dental checkups.
If you notice any of the following symptoms it could be an indication of a cavity or another oral health issue and you should make an appointment with your vet right away:
- Excessive drooling
- A dark spot anywhere on the tooth
- Discomfort or pain in the mouth area
- Tooth discoloration, especially yellow or brown deposits near the gum line
- Dropping food
- Lack of appetite
Treating Cavities in Dogs
When your dog is diagnosed as having a cavity your vet will assess the level of damage the cavity has caused to your pup's tooth. There are 5 stages of damage:
Stage 1: Only enamel affected
Stage 2: Enamel and dentin affected
Stage 3: Enamel, dentin, and pulp chamber affected
Stage 4: Structural crown damage
Stage 5: Majority of a crown lost, roots exposed
Treatment of dog cavities depends on what stage of damage your dog's tooth has been diagnosed with.
For a stage 1 or 2 diagnosis, the enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling.
For a Stage 3 dog tooth cavity, your dog will undergo a root canal procedure (similar to dental surgery for humans) in which the root canal will be disinfected, scrubbed, and then filled. The procedure will end with the crown of the affected tooth or teeth being restored and sealed.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a Stage 4 or 5 cavity, tooth removal will likely be necessary as the damage may be too severe to save the tooth. Your veterinarian will likely use a sealant on the surrounding teeth to ensure further cavities do not form.
Preventive Measures You Can Take
Regular dental visits to your vet are a key part of maintaining your dog's oral hygiene and preventing cavities. When you bring your dog in for regular cleanings, your vet can also catch any developing oral health issues and suggest treatment options before they turn into a more serious problem.
There are also at-home measures you can take to help your dog maintain their oral hygiene such as at-home brushing in between vet visits and providing your dog with special chew toys designed to promote plaque removal.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.