If your dog's teeth aren't cared for properly it can lead to serious oral concerns such as cavities and tooth decay. In today's post, our Arlington vets share some important information about dental hygiene and how to prevent your dog from getting a cavity.
Do dogs get cavities?
If you have recently added a new puppy or dog to your family then you may have many questions about their care including 'Can dogs get cavities?'. The answer to this question is yes. When a dog's tooth has been exposed to food and the bacteria that forms on it for an extended period of time it can cause cavities. When bacteria remain on your pup's teeth for a long time they cause acid to build up which in turn begins to eat away at the outer layers of the tooth causing decay and damage.
Over time the enamel on your dog's tooth will be completely destroyed and the root of the tooth will be damaged. If your dog suffers from advanced tooth decay they may require invasive procedures or tooth extraction to treat the issue.
Canine cavities are relatively rare thanks in part to the low amounts of sugars and acids in most dogs' diets, but there are some breeds that are more likely to get cavities than others. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, bulldogs, poodles, and Shih Tzus are all predisposed to have higher instances of tooth decay.
Sign of a Dog Cavity
It can be difficult to see the early signs of tooth decay which is why it is so important to bring your dog to the vet for routine dental checkups.
Below are some of the most common signs of a dog cavity. If you see any of these signs you should contact 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 a Dog Cavity
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 crown lost, roots exposed
The treatment for your dog's cavity will depend on how advanced the decay is.
For Stage 1 or 2 tooth decay, the enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling.
For a dog tooth cavity that has reached Stage 3, your vet will perform a root canal procedure, in which the root canal will be disinfected and scrubbed and then filled. The procedure will finish with the restoration and sealing of the crown.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a Stage 4 or 5 cavity the tooth will likely need to be extracted since it will be too damaged to restore. Your veterinarian may use a sealant on the surrounding teeth to help protect your dog's teeth against further tooth decay and cavities.
How to Prevent Dog Cavities
Regular dental visits to your vet are key when it comes to maintaining your dog's oral hygiene and preventing a dog tooth cavity. 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.