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Do dogs get cavities?

Dental health issues in dogs can be just as problematic for them as they are for us. If you've ever developed a cavity in one or more of your teeth, you know they can be uncomfortable. Dogs can develop cavities too and here, our Carrollton vets explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments of cavities in dogs. 

Can dogs get cavities?

Yes, they can. If our dogs' mouths aren't cared for and cleaned regularly, they can develop a variety of oral health issues ranging from gum disease to cavities (also known as tooth decay).

What happens if a dog gets a cavity?

If a dog gets a cavity, it can lead to pain, infection, and difficulty eating. In severe cases, the tooth may need to be extracted by a veterinarian to prevent further complications.

The Cause of Cavities in Dogs

Just like people, as our dogs eat, the leftover food debris residue is consumed by bacteria that naturally live in their mouths and turned into plaque. 

Plaque is a sticky substance that sticks to your teeth throughout the day. Plaque is mildly acidic and quite sticky, slowly eating away at your dog's teeth's protective outer layers over time (as well as causing the mild-to-severe bad breath we often think of as normal more middle-aged, or senior dogs).

If your dog's mouth is left uncleaned for long enough, the acidic plaque on your dog's teeth and cause large or small holes in their enamel, called cavities, tooth decay, or dental caries. 

Certain pre-existing conditions in your pup's mouth may make them more likely to develop cavities in addition to a lack of routine cleanings. These include:

  • A diet with lots of fermentable carbohydrates (often found in poor-quality dog food or high-carb table scraps)
  • Poor general health
  • Misaligned or crowded teeth in your dog's mouth
  • Gaps between teeth and gums caused by gum recession
  • A low pH level in your dog's saliva
  • Weaker-than-normal tooth enamel (caused by poor mineralization)

The Symptoms of Dog Cavities

The severity of the cavity determines how much pain or discomfort your dog may feel as a result of the tooth. There are five levels of severity for cavities. Level 1 indicates only enamel damage in your pup, whereas level 5 indicates significant crown loss and root exposure.

Here are some of the most common symptoms that a dental cavity in a dog can cause or be accompanied by:

  • Abnormal chewing, drooling or dropping food from the mouth 
  • Discolored teeth
  • Noticeable Tartar buildup
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Bad breath 
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat 
  • Pain or swelling in or around the mouth

The pain and discomfort of a cavity can deter some puppies from eating enough (or eating altogether). If you notice any of the above symptoms, take your dog to your Carrollton vet as soon as possible for a dental checkup and treatment.

Treatments for Your Dog's Cavity

Professional or preventive treatment can effectively treat cavities in dogs. We provide professional treatment for existing cavities as well as preventive care to address cavities in your puppy early on, if not before they develop.

Restorative Dental Treatment For a Dog's Tooth Cavity

We will determine the appropriate treatment for your dog's cavity based on how severe it is. Your veterinarian can take action to protect the site from further deterioration if a cavity is caught early, using a fluoride wash or bonding agent.

If your furry friend's tooth decay has progressed, the affected enamel, dentin, or pulp must be removed and the tooth repaired with a filling, root canal, or another restorative procedure. If the cavity has progressed to the fourth or fifth stage, removing the tooth from your dog's mouth is necessary to prevent further deterioration of their oral health.

Recovering from filling or tooth removal treatment is typically fast, but it's important to provide specialized after-care for your dog to ensure they don't harm their mouth or new filling.

Routine Care to Prevent Cavities

Maintaining an at-home oral hygiene care routine is critical for your dog's dental and overall health, as well as preventing cavities. This process relies heavily on specialized toothbrushes and toothpaste designed specifically for dog mouths.

In addition to at-home oral health care, make sure you bring your pup to our Carrollton vets at least once each year for a professional dental exam and cleaning treatment. This will allow us to conduct a more thorough hygiene cleaning of your dog's teeth and detect cavities to treat them early.

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.

Have you noticed any of the listed symptoms of cavities in your dog? Bring them to the vets at today to have them checked, cleaned, and treated for any oral health issues. 

New Patients Welcome

Carroll County Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Carrollton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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