Periodontal Disease In Dogs: Stages, Symptoms & Treatment Costs (2023)

Gum disease is the most common dental issue in canines, with nearly 90% of dogs showing signs of periodontal disease as young as two.1

It can be hard to detect the symptoms of dental disease in dogs because they tend to develop so gradually, but without timely intervention, the consequences can be severe, including: constant, chronc pain no the cause eroded gums, chronic pain, and missing teeth once it advances. Fortunately, periodontal disease is easily preventable.

This article will discuss common causes, symptoms, and treatment options for gum disease in dogs, as well as how to prevent it. Click on a link to learn more:

  • What is periodontal disease in dogs?
  • What causes periodontal disease in dogs?
  • What are the signs of periodontal disease in dogs?
  • How do you diagnose periodontal disease in dogs?
  • How much does it cost to treat periodontal disease in dogs?
  • How can I prevent my dog from getting gum disease?
  • FAQs on periodontal disease in dogs

What is periodontal disease in dogs?

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, occurs when a dog has prolonged exposure to a bacteria found in food called periodontitis, leading to infection. Typically, the bacteria proliferates in the canine's mouth without noticeable symptoms until the disease has advanced significantly. Late-stage periodontal disease in dogs can can gum erosion, cause tooth loss, chronic pain, nutritional deficies, infection spread throughout the body, and even death.

Dog Tooth Decay Stages

  • Stage 1: Gingivitis (infection of the gums) presents with mild redness and swelling. Tartar buildup might also be apparent in some areas. The supporting structures around the canine's teeth are still intact at this point.
  • Stage 2: Early periodontitis is characterized by a 25% loss of the tooth’s attachment to supporting structures. The gums are more irritated and redder at this point.
  • Stage 3: During this stage (moderate periodontitis), 25-50% of tooth support is lost. The teeth in stages two and three do not appear noticeably different to the naked eye, but an x-ray will reveal more bone loss.
  • Stage 4: Advanced or severe periodontitis indicates bone loss of 50% or greater. In this final stage, tartar is clearly visible to the naked eye, the gums are receding, the teeth are compromised, and tooth extraction may be necessary.

Periodontal disease vs gingivitis in dogs

When food and bacteria build up along the gum line and are not removed during routine teeth brushing, they can develop into plaque and harden into calculus or tartar. As a result, the gum line and adjacent regions become irritated and inflamed. This condition is known as gingivitis, or the early stage of gum disease.

The main difference between these two conditions is that gingivitis is less severe inflammation than periodontal disease, and the tooth's supporting components have not been damaged.

Is periodontal disease reversible in dogs?

Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is the only stage that may be reversed because the inflamation does not impact the tooth's surrounding structure. Once the infection becomes so severe that it causes structural damage in Stages 2 and 3, periodontal disease can't be reversed, but with the right care, the disease can be prevented from advancing to Stage 4.

(Video) Periodontal Disease in Dogs

What causes periodontal disease in dogs?

The leading cause for gum disease in dogs is poor oral hygiene due to insuffienct tooth brushing. When food and bacteria build up along the gum line and are not removed during routine teeth brushing at-home and annual dental cleanings in-office, turns into plaque, whichs develeps into a hard, yellow substance called tartar that eats away at decaying dog teeth.

Other causes can include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Poor diet and nutrition
  • Alignment of the dog's teeth (crowded teeth are more prone to gum disease)
  • Grooming habits (irregular licking)
  • Dirty toys are also factors that could contribute to the problem

Dog breeds predisposed to gum disease

Generally, small, toy, and brachycephalic breeds are prone to unhealthy dog teeth due to genetics, poor dental hygiene, a misaligned bite, or the shape of their mouth. Examples of dog breeds prone to gum disease include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Pug
  • Collie
  • Maltese
  • French Bulldog
  • English Bulldog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Daschund
  • Boxer

According to one recent study, brachycephalic breeds had 1.25 times the odds of periodontal disease compared to mesocephalic breeds, and Spaniel types had 1.63 times the odds compared to non-Spaniel types.2

What are the signs of periodontal disease in dogs?

Symptoms of periodontal disease in dogs vary in intensity depending on the severity of disease progression, but typically include

  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody saliva
  • Nasal discharge or sneezing
  • Receding gums
  • Lumps in the mouth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Severe, ongoing pain

Periodontal disease affects more than just your dog's mouth — it can also affect important organs and result in heart disease when germs from the mouth enter the bloodstream and attach to the arteries around the heart.

Behavioral Changes Due to Canine Dental Disease

As a dog's gum condition worsens, you might also notice certain behavioral alterations due to their of their aching gums, your dog might:

(Video) What Periodontal Disease Looks Like: Signs, Symptoms, And Treatment

  • Change their eating patterns or begin slapping their gums
  • Be unable to stand having their teeth brushed any longer
  • Become more aggressive or reclusive
  • Avoid playing with chew toys
  • When you attempt to touch their mouth to look at their teeth, they recoil or flee

In addition, your dog might struggle to take up food, drop food from their mouth, or begin to chew on one side. They could also exhibit signs of shyness like refusing to have their heads touched.

How do you diagnose periodontal disease in dogs?

Diagnosing gum disease requires a vet/specialist and anesthesia to safely x-ray and examine dogs' teeth below the gum line.

When you inspect your dog's mouth, you can see tartar above the gumline. Starting at the gum line and spreading outward, it has the appearance of a brown layer and gradually covers more of the tooth's surface. Tartar and plaque below the gumline are considerably more difficult to see, yet this is where the true damage occurs to the tissues that support the tooth, increasing the risk of tooth loss.

How to treat periodontal disease in dogs

Treatment for periodontal disease in dogs will depend on how advanced the disease is.

  • Stage 1 Treatment: A professional dental cleaning can be used to treat gingivitis. The average cost of dog teeth cleaning is between $300 and $700.
  • Stage 2 Treatment: To aid in reattaching the gum to the tooth root, the gum tissue and tooth root are cleaned, rinsed, and treated with a gel in this stage.
  • Stage 3 Treatment: To remove plaque and tartar buildup, the teeth will require a deep cleaning or scraping, both below and above the gum line, followed by polishing. General anesthesia is always required for this procedure, so be sure to prepare your dog for anesthesia.
  • Stage 4 Treatment: Once the condition has progressed to this stage, surgery, which usually involves tooth extraction, will be required to treat the afflicted teeth.

Early treatment of periodontal disease may be able to save your pet's teeth, it is a good idea to get your dog examined by a veterinarian at least once or twice a year for periodontal disease. Even if your dog seems to be fine and shows no signs of gum disease, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding dental care.

How much does it cost to treat periodontal disease in dogs?

Treatment options and their costs might vary greatly depending on several factors, such as your location and whether or not the professional providing the care is a veterinarian specialist. The cost of treatment will decrease the earlier gum disease is treated. Treatment for dogs in stages three and four can cost thousands of dollars.

Treatment for gum disease in dogs is typically itemized by service and should include:

(Video) Why Does My Dog's Breath SMELL SO BAD? | Dental Disease in Dogs | Vet Explains | Dogtor Pete

  • Anesthesia For Dog Dental Work ($90 to $1,200): The vet will use anesthesia to evaluate the oral cavity and clean the dog's teeth.
  • Dental Xrays ($150 to $250): Imaging is necessary to assess the jaw, mouth, and the tooth roots that are not visible below the gumline.
  • Oral Exam ($55 to $90): A physical examination under anesthesia allows the vet to inspect the dog's gums, teeth, cheeks, the roof of the mouth, and tongue.
  • Dental Cleaning ($300 to $700): Cleaning involves scaling the teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup with a professional tool, followed by tooth polish to remove discoloration and stains.
  • Cavity Filling ($500 to $2,000): If your dog has a cavity, any enamel, dentin, or pulp will need to be removed and the tooth restored with a filling.
  • Tooth Extraction ($10 to $100 per tooth): The removal of rotten dog teeth due to severe tooth decay is often required to treat the infection.

Does pet insurance cover dental care for dogs?

Pet insurance is the best option when it comes to budgeting for dog dental work. Dental coverage can be found in many pet insurance plans. Coverage varies by insurer, but companies like Pets Best and Embrace cover both dental illness and accidents and provide reimbursement for a wide range of dental issues such as root canals, damaged teeth, gingivitis, stomatitis, teeth removal, crowns, and gum disease.

Dental pet coverage doesn’t include pre-existing conditions that occurred before coverage began, routine dental care like teeth cleaning, as well as endodontic, orthodontic, and cosmetic services such as implants, fillings, and caps.

Recovery and management of periodontal disease in dogs

The length of recovery from gum disease depends on the required medical care. A dog who has had a straightforward cleaning and scaling procedure should return to normal the following day. In the case of extractions or major surgeries, it might take your pet three to five days to fully recover. It is recommended to soften your dog’s food so they can eat it comfortably during this time.

For pets with stages three and four of periodontal disease, antibiotics to prevent infections as well as anti-inflammatory drugs and meds for pain relief for dogs may be required. During these advanced stages of periodontal disease, routine follow-up veterinary visits are also necessary.

How can I prevent my dog from getting gum disease?

Dogs should begin undergoing preventative professional dental cleanings under anesthesia at a young age, before any signs of gum disease are visible, in addition to receiving regular oral care at home.

Preventive Pet Care For Oral Health

Preventive pet care for oral health includes:

  • Annual dental exams by your veterinarian. You may want to arrange an oral examination every six months if your dog is prone to periodontal disease (Bulldog, Yorkie, Dachshund, or another small breed). To prevent plaque formation, topical treatments can also be administered to the teeth and gums, but this must be done consistently and daily.
  • Brushing your pet’s teeth at home. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste made just for canines according to your vet’s instructions. Don’t use human toothpaste as the majority of products contain fluoride, which is toxic to dogs.
  • Providing specialized food and treats to reduce tartar. Speak to your veterinarian to determine which ones are best for your pet.
  • Examining your dog’s mouth for any abnormalities, such as redness, tartar, bad breath, or loose teeth.

Pet Wellness Plans For Routine Care

Wellness plans for preventive pet care, which can be added to your standard pet insurance policy, include coverage for dental cleanings and other preventive care for dogs. With most pet wellness plans for routine care, you get reimbursed the predetermined amount from your plan; there is no requirement that you fulfill a deductible and no reimbursement percentage.Use Pawlicy Advisor to learn where to buy pet dental insurance, compare different levels of coverage provided by different insurers and find the best wellness plan for routine care.

(Video) Is Periodontal Gum Disease Reversible in Dogs? Canine Yes!

Compare Plans

FAQs on Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Is gum disease common in dogs?

Gum disease is the most common health issue in dogs. According to the Journal of Small Animal Practice, primary-care veterinary practices report an average prevalence of periodontal disease in 9.3 to 18.2% of canines based upon visual diagnosis alone during an exam in which the patient is conscious. Detailed examinations report a much higher prevalence of 44 to 100%.

Can dogs get cavities?

Just like humans, dogs can get cavities, or areas of damaged teeth caused by prolonged exposure to bacteria that remains in the mouth after eating food.

How do you treat periodontal disease in dogs?

Treatment for periodontal disease in dogs depends on how severe the condition is. Stage one can be easily treated with a dental cleaning. Stages two and three require scaling or scraping under general anesthesia, whereas stage four requires surgery and canine tooth extraction.

How long can a dog live with periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease can have serious health effects on a dog's entire body if left untreated. Eye problems, jaw fractures, oronasal fistulas, tooth abscesses, and a higher chance of organ damage are a few of the possible dog health issues that can reduce your dog’s lifespan.

Is periodontal disease painful in dogs?

In advanced stages, gum disease can cause chronic pain, gum erosion, and tooth loss.

Is there a vaccine for periodontal disease in dogs?

There’s no vaccine to prevent gum disease in dogs.

(Video) Dentistry For Pet Owners 101: What do the 5 stages of Periodontal Disease look like in a Dog?


  1. JSAP, "World Small Animal Veterinary Association Global Dental Guidelines" Accessed December 13, 2022.
  2. JSAP, "Epidemiology of periodontal disease in dogs in the UK primary-care veterinary setting" Accessed December 13, 2022.


  1. World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA),"WSAVA Global Dental Guidelines" Accessed Oct. 3, 2022.
  2. Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP), "Epidemiology of periodontal disease in dogs in the UK primary-care veterinary setting" Accessed Oct. 3, 2022.
  3. JSAP, "A review of the frequency and impact of periodontal disease in dogs" Accessed Oct. 3, 2022.


How much does it cost to treat a dog with periodontal disease? ›

In general, the cost will range from $50 to $300. If the pet has periodontal disease, the average cost for treatment for a canine is $519 and $768 for a feline2.

How much does periodontitis treatment cost? ›

Average Periodontal Treatment Costs

Regular dental cleaning: $50 – $75. Scaling and root planing: $140 – $210. Gum grafting: $250 and up. Periodontal maintenance after therapy: $115 on average.

How long can a dog live with stage 4 periodontal disease? ›

Periodontal disease is dangerous for pets, and in some cases is known to take up to two years or more off of a pet's life, if left untreated.

Is periodontal treatment worth it? ›

Periodontal treatment is very important. It does prevent tooth loss, which can be caused by periodontitis. This treatment also prevents other issues caused by periodontitis, like heart attack risks. You should talk to your dentist if you suspect periodontitis.

How fast does periodontal disease progress in dogs? ›

It only takes several weeks for plaque to start building up on your dog's teeth. If left unchecked, periodontal disease will grow rapidly. A study of 52 miniature schnauzers showed that 98% of the dogs had developed some level of periodontitis within 30 weeks of stopping toothbrushing.

Is periodontitis a big deal? ›

Periodontitis is a severe gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and other serious health complications. Periodontitis (per-e-o-don-TIE-tis), also called gum disease, is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and, without treatment, can destroy the bone that supports your teeth.

Can periodontitis be treated without surgery? ›

Often, nonsurgical treatment is enough to control a periodontal infection, restore oral tissues to good health, and tighten loose teeth. At that point, keeping up your oral hygiene routine at home and having regular checkups and cleanings here at the dental office will give you the best chance to remain disease-free.

What is the best treatment for periodontitis? ›

Antibiotics. Topical or oral antibiotics can help control bacterial infection. Topical antibiotics can include antibiotic mouth rinses or insertion of gels containing antibiotics in the space between your teeth and gums or into pockets after deep cleaning.

How can I slow down my dogs periodontal disease? ›

Brushing is the most effective method for prevention of periodontal disease, but it may be challenging for many caretakers. Dental diets, chlorhexidine gels, and dental treats can also be of benefit, whether paired with regular brushing or used on their own.

Should a 15 year old dog have dental surgery? ›

Conclusions. Dental care, including anesthetized dental cleanings, is an essential part of senior dog care. Thorough pre-anesthetic workups, stabilization of concurrent medical issues prior to anesthesia, and the use of safer anesthetic protocols can minimize these risks in geriatric pets.

What is periodontal disease stage 3 dog? ›

Stage 3 of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

In Stage 3 of periodontal disease, 25-50% of the tooth's support is lost. On x-rays, moderate to severe bone loss would be present, and when probing the gums, abnormal periodontal pockets would be present.

What can be mistaken for periodontal disease? ›

Gingivitis is sometimes mistaken for periodontitis and vice versa. They are both stages of periodontal disease. But they are distinct things, so it's important to be able to tell which might be affecting you.

What are the 5 symptoms present in periodontitis? ›

The following are warning signs of periodontal disease:
  • Bad breath or bad taste that won't go away.
  • Red or swollen gums.
  • Tender or bleeding gums.
  • Painful chewing.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Sensitive teeth.
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth.
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.

What is stage 2 periodontal disease dog? ›

Stage 2: Early periodontitis is diagnosed when there is mild to moderate loss of the bone and ligaments that hold teeth in place. At this stage, the gums are redder and/or more inflamed. Stage 3: Moderate periodontitis is diagnosed when up to 50% of tooth support loss has occurred.

What is the treatment for stage 3 periodontal disease? ›

Periodontitis Stage 3: Severe with Potential Tooth Loss

At this point, periodontal surgery may be the only treatment option. If your teeth have progressed so severely, they may not be able to be saved with a dental implant. Unfortunately, teeth may have to be extracted as a last resort.

How long does periodontal treatment last? ›

Therefore, we recommend that you maintain a 3 month Periodontal Maintenance Schedule, so the hygienist can access deeper pocket areas and disrupt the bacteria so that they do not continue to multiply and cause increases in pocket depth and additional bone loss which results in loose teeth or even tooth loss.

How painful is periodontal treatment? ›

The short answer is no, the procedure is not painful. You will experience discomfort upon completion but the actual process can be completed with the administration of a local anesthetic to the soft tissue to minimize any unpleasant feelings during the process.

Is dog periodontal disease fatal? ›

In fact, by the time Fido hits age three, they're more than likely among the 80% of dogs who have some form of periodontal (gum) disease. When left untreated, this highly common phenomenon can lead to potentially fatal diseases of the heart, kidney and liver.

How fast does periodontitis worsen? ›

Over time, untreated gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. So, how long does it take for gum disease to develop? One study found that if you're starting from level 1 gingivitis, it takes an average of 66.8 weeks, which is a little over 15 months, to develop into periodontitis.

How do you know if periodontitis is advanced? ›

Advanced Periodontal Disease: The final stage of periodontal disease is when the infection has evolved into disease-causing bacteria. It can cause redness, swollen gums that ooze pus, sensitivity, loosening of teeth, painful chewing, severe bad breath, and bone loss.

What are 3 conditions that a periodontist may treat? ›

The periodontist is mainly concerned with: preventing the onset of gum disease (periodontal disease); diagnosing conditions affecting the gums and jawbone; and treating gingivitis, periodontitis, and bone loss.

Can you stop periodontitis from progressing? ›

You can prevent periodontal disease from progressing by noticing symptoms early enough, getting treated, and maintaining proper oral hygiene post-treatment.

Is periodontitis the end? ›

Periodontal disease damages the bone, which is not reversible. Once it starts, you will always have it. All levels of periodontitis require treatment by a dentist.

What is the newest treatment for gum disease? ›

The FDA-approved laser gum disease treatment uses a tiny laser fiber (about the thickness of three hairs) that is inserted between the tooth and gum. The laser zaps away only bacteria and infected tissue with much less discomfort compared to standard procedures.

How do you get rid of periodontal pockets? ›

What Treatments Are Available to Treat Periodontal Pockets? Scaling and root planing helps to deep clean in and around the periodontal pockets. This procedure removes the plaque and bacteria on the tooth and underneath the gum line. Scaling and root planing helps to shrink periodontal pockets and can heal gum tissue.

Why is periodontitis not curable? ›

Modern treatments for the disease are often related to prevention and management rather than providing a cure. The only way to fully get rid of periodontal disease is to extract the infection at its source by extracting the teeth. The bacteria cannot live, so the periodontal disease leaves the body.

What antibiotics treat dog periodontal disease? ›

Choosing an appropriate antibiotic to treat periodontitis should be based on these considerations. Amoxicillin-clavulanate, clindamycin, and nitroimidazoles, such as metronidazole and tinidazole, seem to be particularly effective based on pharmacokinetic and clinical studies.

Can you reverse periodontitis in dogs? ›

Gingivitis is reversible, because it is only inflammation, and no damage to the supporting bone structures or tooth sockets has occurred. If your dog has Stage 2 or Stage 3 periodontal disease, it won't be reversible, but there are steps you can take to prevent its progression.

Can xylitol reverse periodontal disease? ›

Eliminating Gum Disease

Xylitol is anti-bacterial and will help to make the harmful bacteria disappear and over time the pockets that you've developed in your gum line will heal and recede back to their normal condition.

Can dogs live a good life without teeth? ›

Full mouth extraction is often recommended for dogs with advanced periodontal disease. Thankfully, dogs can live a full, normal life without teeth.

What is considered a senior dog? ›

Small dogs are considered senior citizens of the canine community when they reach 11-12 years of age. Their medium-sized friends become seniors at 10 years of age. Their larger-sized colleagues are seniors at 8 years of age. And, finally, their giant-breed counterparts are seniors at 7 years old.

When do dogs teeth need to be extracted? ›

In the majority of cases, a canine tooth extraction is necessary due to decay or advanced gum disease caused by poor oral hygiene. When a tooth is damaged beyond repair, it is important to remove it in order to prevent infection and pain caused by the decayed tooth.

What is Grade 4 dental disease dog? ›

SEVERE / Grade 4

Severe tartar formation and gum disease is present. Toxic debris and inflammation have caused extensive tissue death. Roots are infected, abscessed, and rotten. The thin wall of bone surrounding teeth has deteriorated, and many teeth are loose.

What is stage 2 periodontal disease? ›

Stage 2: Slight periodontal disease

At this stage, the infection has spread to the bone and begins to attack bone tissues with stronger, highly aggressive bacteria. Symptoms of slight periodontal disease include increased swelling or redness of the gums and bleeding during brushing or flossing.

Can Stage 3 periodontitis be reversed? ›

Advanced Gum Disease (Periodontitis) Can't Be Reversed

Irreversible damage will be done to your teeth and gums, and it will never be possible to completely eliminate the infection. In this stage of gum disease, your gums and teeth will be damaged to some extent.

Can periodontitis be seen on xray? ›

X-rays are often used to detect late-stage periodontitis. If your dentist has examined your mouth and found infection in the gum pockets, they may order X-rays to determine if there is bone loss under the gum line, which could indicate advanced gum disease.

What can make periodontal disease worse? ›

For example, patients with conditions that affect the efficiency of the immune system, such as diabetes, HIV, Down syndrome, leukemia, etc., can make periodontal disease worse. Those who smoke, use tobacco products, are malnourished, and/or are highly stressed are also at an increased risk.

What are the three severities of periodontal disease? ›

Severity is based on the amount of clinical attachment loss (CAL) and is designated as slight (1-2 mm CAL), moderate (3-4 mm CAL) or severe (> 5 mm CAL).

What happens if periodontal disease goes untreated in dogs? ›

If untreated, periodontal disease can have severe health implications not only on the dog's mouth but the entire body as well. Some of these health issues include eye issues, increased risk of organ damage, jaw fractures, oral cancer, oronasal fistulas, and tooth abscesses.

What do I do if my dog has periodontal disease? ›

The first step to treating gum disease is a complete professional dental cleaning, which includes: Scaling the teeth above and below the gumline to remove plaque and tartar. Polishing the teeth. Taking full mouth x-rays.

Can you reverse periodontal disease in dogs? ›

Periodontal Disease has four stages, but it is only reversible when it's detected during the first stage, gingivitis. In any of the more progressed stages, your dog will likely already be facing bone loss and may need extractions to minimize the chance of further infection and jawbone deterioration.

Can periodontal disease be stopped in dogs? ›

Fortunately, periodontal disease is preventable. If detected early, it can also be treated and reversed. You can prevent the disease by being proactive when it comes to your dog's oral health.


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