Like humans, neglecting proper oral hygiene can cause our canine companions to develop cavities. Today, our veterinarians across all locations provide tips on preventing cavities in dogs and what to do if your dog has one.
Can Dogs Get Cavities
Cavities, also known as caries, occur in both humans and dogs for the same reason. They result from enamel damage due to prolonged exposure to bacteria found in food. When these bacteria linger on the tooth's surface for an extended period, they trigger the accumulation of acid, which erodes the outer layers of the tooth, causing decay and harm.
Over time, your dog's enamel will completely deteriorate, leading to damage to the tooth's root. In severe cases, this can lead to tooth loss or the need for extraction.
Cavities in dogs are relatively rare due to the low levels of sugars and acids in most canine diets. However, certain breeds are more prone to tooth decay than others. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Poodles, and Shih Tzus all have a higher likelihood of experiencing tooth decay.
Signs Of Cavities In Dogs
It can be difficult to spot the early signs of cavity development before it causes advanced tooth decay. This is why it's important for your dog to visit the vet for regular dental check-ups.
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 (watch for yellow or brown deposits near the gum line)
- Dropping food
- Lack of appetite
How To Treat Cavities In Dogs
When your dog has been diagnosed with one or more cavities, your vet will assess the level of damage the cavity has caused their 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 the tooth crown lost, exposing the roots
Treating your dog's cavities depends on the level of damage their tooth has.
For Stage 1 or 2 cavities, we will remove the enamel around the cavity and restore the crown with an amalgam filling.
For Stage 3 cavities, your dog will undergo a root canal procedure similar to what humans experience. The root canal will be disinfected, scrubbed, and filled, and the crown will be restored and sealed.
If your dog has a Stage 4 or 5 cavity, tooth removal may be necessary due to the severity of the damage. Your veterinarian will likely apply a sealant to the surrounding teeth to prevent future cavities.
Regularly taking your dog to the vet for dental check-ups plays a crucial role in keeping their oral hygiene in good shape and avoiding cavities. When you schedule routine cleanings for your dog, your vet can also detect any emerging oral health problems and recommend treatments before they escalate into more severe issues.
In addition to vet visits, you can also contribute to your dog's oral hygiene by brushing their teeth at home between vet appointments and providing them with chew toys specifically designed to reduce plaque buildup.
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.