Just like us, our dogs can develop dental cavities due to inadequate oral hygiene. In today's post, our Franklin vets explain how dog cavities are treated and how to prevent your canine companion from developing a cavity.
Can dogs get cavities?
Many pet parents who are considering dental care for their canine companions ask, 'Do dogs get cavities?.' The answer is a resounding yes. A dog cavity is an area of damage on one of your dog's teeth caused by prolonged exposure to the bacteria found in food. 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. This can cause decay and damage.
Your dog's tooth will be completely destroyed over time and the root of the tooth will be damaged as well. In severe cases, this will result in the tooth falling out or needing to be extracted.
Canine cavities are relatively rare due 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 like: Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, bulldogs, poodles, and Shih Tzus are all predisposed to have higher instances of tooth decay.
What are the signs that my dog might have a cavity?
Regular checkups with your vet can help your dog avoid tooth decay.
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 veterinarian 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
How are cavities in dogs treated?
When your dog gets a cavity, your vet will look at how much damage the cavity has done to his 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
Treatment of dog cavities depends on what stage of damage your dog's tooth has been diagnosed with.
For a 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.
What can I do to protect my dog's teeth against cavities?
Regular dental visits to your vet are key when it comes to 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.