Gingivitis in Dogs

Overview of Canine Gingivitis

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue resulting in redness and swelling, most commonly caused by dental plaque in dogs. Plaque results when bacteria normally found in the mouth mix with proteins and starches found in saliva to produce a gritty material that adheres to the teeth. Plaque eventually turns into tartar, which accumulates on the teeth, especially at the gum line. Local irritants and some diseases, such as plasmacytic gingivitis and trench mouth, may also cause gingivitis.

Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis or inflammation around the tooth root, which in turn can lead to tooth loss.

What to Watch For

The main symptom of gingivitis in dogs is red or swollen gums.

Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Dogs

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize gingivitis and exclude other diseases. Tests in dogs may include:

Additional diagnostic tests may include:

Treatment of Gingivitis in Dogs

Ultrasonic scaling, which is cleaning the teeth both above and below the gum-line, and tooth polishing will arrest and reverse gingivitis.

Home Care and Prevention

Daily brushing of the teeth can be effective. Brushing your dog’s teeth on a daily basis can be just as effective as brushing your own teeth.

Dental care diets or treats can be helpful to maintain a healthy mouth. Chlorhexidine rinses or toothpastes can effectively remove plaque above the gum-line.

Follow-up with your veterinarian as directed, usually every 3 to 6 months, is necessary for re-evaluation. In difficult cases, you may be referred to a veterinarian who specializes in, or has a special interest in, dental care. Semi-annual to annual dental cleaning by ultrasonic scaling also may be recommended.

Products for dental care include: