Gingivitis in Dogs: Causes, Signs, & Treatments

Gingivitis in dogs is an inflammation of the gums and the first stage of periodontal disease. Today, our Enterprise vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment options for gingivitis in dogs.

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria that accumulate in a dog's mouth owing to plaque and tartar buildup. It is preventable in dogs with frequent at-home brushing and professional dental cleanings, just as it is in humans. Unfortunately, many dog owners do not consider their dogs' oral health until it is too late.

If your dog shows signs of gingivitis, consult your veterinarian about treatment options and how to care for your dog's oral health at home to avoid additional gum disease.

Causes of Gingivitis in Dogs

Gingivitis in dogs is caused primarily by a poor diet and a lack of oral care, though certain dogs with crowded teeth, such as toy breeds, are at risk. Food particles and germs build up in cracks between a dog's teeth and gums when they are not properly cared for, causing inflammation and irritation. As germs multiply, they adhere to the teeth and form plaque, which calcifies and becomes tartar.

The more this occurs, the more the gums are pushed away from the teeth, exposing pockets where more food and bacteria can accumulate. Without adequate cleaning, this will result in periodontal disease and tooth loss.

Signs of Gingivitis in Dogs

Gingivitis symptoms in dogs may begin with slight inflammation of the gums, but as the condition progresses, symptoms will become more severe and visible. If your veterinarian notices signs of gum disease in your dog, he or she may offer expert teeth cleaning and educate you on how to keep your dog's dental health at home.

Some of the most common symptoms of gingivitis in dogs include:

  • Bad breath
  • Swollen gums
  • Gums bleed, especially when brushing
  • Plaque buildup, visible as stained teeth
  • Pus oozing when making contact with gums
  • Tartar buildup, visible as calcified areas on teeth
  • Drooling
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Difficulty eating
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Signs of pain around the mouth

Treating Gingivitis in Dogs

Treating gingivitis in dogs begins with a professional teeth cleaning that removes tartar deposits and polishes the teeth. This will aid in the prevention of bacteria adhering to the teeth in the future. In severe situations, portions of the gum tissue may be removed. If a bacterial infection is present, an antibiotic may be recommended.

To avoid gum disease, you should treat your dog's teeth exactly as you would your own. This will include cleaning and rinsing your teeth regularly. Chewable sweets and toys can aid in the removal of plaque from the teeth. Your veterinarian may advise you to use specific toothpaste, gels, or formulations for your dog.

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.

Is your dog due for a professional dental cleaning and examination? Contact our Enterprise vets to book an appointment for your pup.