What Are the Causes of Gingivitis in Dogs?by Naomi Millburn
If you don't keep up with your dog's teeth, periodontal disease is an unpleasant possibility if not a likelihood. Make your cutie's dental well-being a priority. Brush your pet's teeth yourself and schedul oral examinations at the veterinarian's office.
Gingivitis is a medical condition that describes gum inflammation. Cases of gingivitis that are ignored can escalate and bring upon the more severe ailment of periodontitis. With prompt care, however, gingivitis can be turned around, unlike periodontitis. Some of the signs that are linked to canine gingivitis are the accumulation of plaque, foul breath, swelling of the gums, crimson gums, problems chewing normally and hesitation about eating.
The culprit behind gingivitis in canines is the accumulation of plaque, the gooey stuff made of remnants of food, saliva and yucky bacteria. Bacteria make up the bulk of plaque, 80 percent of it. Plaque develops on the teeth within a span of six to eight hours post-brushing. In roughly two to three days, plaque transforms into tartar, which is firmer and nowhere near as easy to eliminate, usually calling for extensive veterinary cleaning. Tartar tends to stay close to the gums and has a conspicuous yellowish-brown color. The presence of lots of tartar allows bacteria to flourish, therefore leading to periodontitis on the tissues near the teeth.
Gingivitis can affect any pooches, but some of the furry guys are particularly susceptible to plaque accumulation, namely the older crowd. Other factors can contribute to a dog being prone to plaque and gingivitis, such as breathing with the mouth ajar, teeth that grow too closely together, and the consumption of especially soft and moist foods. Dogs who regularly feed on foods with harder textures -- like kibble -- don't experience gingivitis as frequently as do others.
Lack of Dental Care
Although plaque ultimately causes gingivitis, lack of dental care in dogs is what triggers it in the first place. Keep your doggie's teeth squeaky clean and in optimal condition by brushing them routinely, preferably daily. If you can't do so every day, aim to brush them at least three times weekly. If you have any questions regarding how to properly go about it, ask your veterinarian to demonstrate for you. The earlier you begin brushing your cutie's teeth, the easier it might be to get him used to it. Use only toothbrushes and toothpastes that are specifically created for canines, no exceptions.
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- Veterinary Dental Services: How to Care for Your Dog's Teeth
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Periodontal Disease in Small Animals
- North Portland Veterinary Hospital: Gingivitis & Periodontal Disease
- Veterinary Dental Center: Periodontal Disease
- American Animal Hospital Association Healthy Pet: Periodontal Disease in Dogs
- PetMD: Swollen Gums in Dogs
- ASPCA: Brushing Your Dog's Teeth
- ASPCA: Ten Steps to Your Dog's Dental Health
- Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images