Can Pets Get Cavities?
Does your pet have teeth? If yes then your pet can have a cavity. A cavity is an area of damage on one of your pet's teeth caused by prolonged exposure to the bacteria found in food. When bacteria remain on your pet's teeth for a long time they cause acid to build up which in turn begins to eat away at the outer layers of the tooth causing decay and damage.
Over time the enamel on your pet's tooth will be completely destroyed and the root of the tooth will be damaged. In severe cases, this will result in the tooth falling out or needing to be extracted.
Canine cavities are relatively rare thanks in part to the low amounts of sugars and acids in most dogs' diets, but there are some breeds that are more likely to get cavities than others. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, bulldogs, poodles, and Shih Tzus are all predisposed to have higher instances of tooth decay.
Signs That my Pet Might Have a Cavity?
Spotting a developing cavity before it causes advanced tooth decay is critical for your pets health. It's important for your pet to attend regular dental checkups at your vet's office.
If you notice any of the following symptoms it could be an indication of a cavity or another oral health issue and you should make an appointment with your vet right away:
- Tooth discoloration
- Excessive drooling
- A dark spot anywhere on the tooth
- Discomfort or pain in the mouth area
- Dropping food
- Lack of appetite
How are Cavities in Dogs Treated?
When your dog is diagnosed as having a cavity your vet will assess the level of damage on the tooth. There are 5 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.
If the issue is stage 1 or 2 of tooth decay, the enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling. Yes your dog can get fillings too.
For a dog tooth cavity that has reached Stage 3, your vet will perform a root canal procedure.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a Stage 4 or 5 cavity the tooth will likely need to be extracted. Your veterinarian may use a sealant on the surrounding teeth help protect your dog's teeth against further tooth decay and cavities.
Treatment of Cavities in Other Pets
This will depend on the specific pet but treatment can vary from cleaning the tooth and applying a dental sealant to tooth extractions. You will need to discuss the treatment available for your pet with your vet.
How to Protect my Pet's teeth Against Cavities
Regular dental visits to your vet are key when it comes to maintaining oral hygiene and preventing cavities in pets. When you bring your pet 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.
There are also at-home measures you can take to help your pet maintain their oral hygiene such as at-home brushing in between vet visits and providing your pet with special chew toys or snack 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.