Question: My 10-year-old dog Rusty seems to be having problems with his teeth and gums. Can you please outline some possible dental disorders in dogs and ways to prevent them?
Answer: Many of the dental disorders of dogs are similar to those found in people. Bacterial infections of the tissue surrounding the teeth can cause inflammation of the gums, the ligaments that anchor the teeth, and the surrounding bone.
Gum disease is caused by accumulation of bacteria (plaques) at the gum line due in part to the lack of proper oral hygiene. Other contributing factors may include breed, genetics, age and diet.
As the number of bacteria below the gum line increases, bacterial waste products such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, acids and other compounds accumulates and damage tissues.
There are two forms of gum disease: Gingivitis and Periodontitis. In Gingivitis, the gums become inflamed but the ligaments and bone are not affected. The gums change in colour from coral-pink to red or purple and the edges of the gum swells. Gingivitis can be reversed with proper tooth cleaning but if left untreated can lead to Periodontitis.
In Periodontitis, the tissue damage is more severe and includes the gums, ligaments and bone. It is usually seen after years of development of plaques, tartar and gingivitis.
It is irreversible and results in permanent loss of tooth support. Small breeds are more prone to this condition. Back teeth are more affected than front ones and the upper teeth are usually affected worse than lower.
Periodontitis is treated with thorough professional cleaning above and below the gum line. In some cases surgery will be needed to gain access to the root surface for cleaning.
Follow your veterinarian’s instructions, which may include daily tooth brushing, dietary changes, plaque prevention gel and oral rinses.
Regular (every six months to one year) preventative cleaning will help to avoid relapse and prevent further bone loss. The most important thing to remember is that gum disease will not develop around clean teeth.
For further reading visit www.petmd.com.
- Dr Hansel is a veterinary consultant and surgeon for the BSPCA and Charis Vets. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
BSPCA’S DOG OF THE WEEK IS COOKIE
Breed: Mixed Breed
Age: Two years and five months
Cookie is one of our friendly little sugary balls of goodness that absolutely adores people. She’s a very well-behaved and quiet doggy that has sadly been with us at the shelter for over two years so far. She spends her days silently hoping to be adopted and taken to a loving and forever home. Cookie is neutered, tick treated and fully vaccinated.
BSPCA’S CAT OF THE WEEK IS FERDY
Age: Two years and five months
Ferdy is our friendly and rare little peachy lion. He has a uniquely quiet yet playful character to him, that’s when he isn’t spending his time lounging around as one of the house cushions. Ferdy has a very loving and affectionate nature to him that makes him one of our favourite kitties. Ferdy is neutered and fully vaccinated.
l If you are interested in adopting Cookie, Ferdy or any of the shelter’s cats, kittens, dogs and puppies, please visit the Animal Welfare Centre in Askar. From the Alba roundabout take the road sign posted Askar and Durrat Al Bahrain and at the third signal take a right on to the truck road and after approximately 800m you will see the shelter on the right side, just before the flyover. Or, log onto the website www.bspca.org for directions. The shelter is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm from Sundays to Thursdays and 9am to 1pm on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays. The shelter accepts animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.