Did you know that dogs can get cavities? Similar to humans, poor oral hygiene habits in dogs can result in cavities. In this blog, our Kinston vets talk about cavities in dogs, including the causes, treatments, and ways you can prevent them.
Cavities In Dogs
Dogs develop cavities (also called caries) for the same reason as humans. They are areas of teeth that have been damaged as a result of prolonged exposure to bacteria found in food. When the bacteria sits for too long on the teeth, acid builds up and eats at the tooth's outer layers, resulting in damage and decay.
Over time the enamel on your dog's tooth will be completely destroyed and the root of the tooth will be damaged. In severe situations, the tooth can fall out or may need to be extracted.
Although canine cavities are relatively rare due to the low amounts of sugars and acids in most dogs' diets, there are some breeds that are more likely to get them than others. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, bulldogs, poodles, and Shih Tzus are all predisposed to have higher instances of tooth decay.
Signs & Symptoms 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 pup to visit the vet for regular dental checkups.
If you see your dog exhibiting any of the symptoms below, call your vet immediately to schedule a dental appointment because your pup may have a cavity or another oral health problem:
- A dark spot anywhere on the tooth
- Tooth discoloration, especially yellow or brown deposits near the gum line
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of appetite
- Dropping food
- Discomfort or pain in the mouth area
How Cavities in Dogs are Treated
When your dog is diagnosed with a cavity your vet will evaluate the level of damage the cavity has caused to your dog'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 the crown is lost, roots exposed
The treatments used for your dog's cavity will depend on the stage of damage your dog's tooth has been diagnosed with.
If your dog is diagnosed with stage a 1 or 2 cavity, your vet will remove the enamel surrounding the cavity and restore the crown with an amalgam filling.
For a stage 3 cavity, your dog will require a root canal procedure, just like with people, 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 most likely have to be removed, because the damage might be too severe to save the tooth. Your veterinarian will likely use a sealant on the surrounding teeth in order to ensure further cavities do not form.
Preventing Cavities in Dogs
It's key to bring your dog to the vet for regular dental visits, in order to maintain your dog's oral health and prevent cavities. When you bring your dog to Five Oaks Animal Hospital for routine cleanings your vet will be able to spot any arising oral health problems and recommend treatment options before they cause more serious issues.
You can also take certain measures at home between veterinary visits to help keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy including brushing your dog's teeth and giving your pooch chew toys designed to remove plaque.