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Cavities in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Do dogs get cavities? In a word, the answer is yes. In this post, our Franklin vets discuss how to identify a cavity in a dog, what happens if one develops, and how cavities are treated. 

Can dogs get cavities?

Cavities, also called caries, occur for the same reason in both dogs and people. These are areas where prolonged exposure to bacteria and food particles has caused damage to the teeth. When bacteria accumulate on the teeth, the acids in your dog's mouth combine with the bacteria to erode the outer layers of the tooth, which leads to decay. 

The enamel on your dog's teeth can be gradually destroyed, and the root of the tooth may become damaged. In severe cases, this will lead to tooth loss or the need for a tooth extraction. 

While it's rare for dogs to get cavities due to the low amounts of sugars and acids in most dogs' diets, some breeds are more prone to cavities than others. bulldogs, Chihuahuas, dachshunds, shih tzus, poodles, and pugs are all susceptible to tooth decay. 

Signs Your Dog Might Have a Cavity 

Many dog owners will find it difficult to see early signs of a cavity developing before advanced tooth decay occurs. This is why our Franklin vets recommend booking your pooch a regular dental checkup with your vet. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, your dog may have a cavity or other oral health problem and you should schedule an appointment with your vet right away:

  • A dark spot anywhere on the tooth 
  • Tooth discoloration, especially yellow or brown spots near the gum line
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dropping food 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Pain or discomfort in the mouth area 

How to Treat Cavities in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed as having a cavity, your vet will assess how much damage the cavity has caused to your pup's tooth. There are five 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 crown lost, roots exposed

Treatment of dog cavities depends on what stage of damage your dog's tooth has been diagnosed with.

For a stage 1 or 2 diagnosis, the enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling. 

For a Stage 3 dog tooth cavity, your dog will undergo a root canal procedure, similar to what happens with humans, in which 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 tooth cavity, tooth removal will likely be necessary as the damage may 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.  

Preventive Measures You Can Take 

Regular dental visits to your vet are key when it comes to maintaining your dog's oral hygiene and preventing cavities. When you bring your dog in for regular cleanings, your vet can also catch any developing oral health issues and suggest treatment options before they turn into a more serious problem. 

You can also take at-home measures to help your dog maintain its oral hygiene, such as brushing it at home in between vet visits and providing them with special chew toys designed to promote plaque removal.

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.

Are you concerned about your dog's oral health, or is it time for a dental checkup? Contact our vets in Franklin today to schedule an appointment. 

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Advanced Veterinary Care is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Franklin companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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