What is a Dog Cavity?
Pet parents often ask, 'Do dogs get cavities?' and the answer is yes. A dog cavity is an area of damage on one of your dog's teeth caused by prolonged exposure to the bacteria found in food. When bacteria remain on a pup's teeth for a long time, acid starts to build up. This acid begins to eat away at the outer layers of the tooth, causing decay and damage.
If this continues without proper cleanings, the enamel on your dog's tooth will be 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.
A cavity in dogs can be rare because of the low amounts of sugars and acids in most dogs' diets. Certain breeds are more likely to get cavities than others. Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Poodles, Pugs, and Shih Tzus are all predisposed to tooth decay.
What are the Signs of a Dog Cavity?
Now that we know the answer to 'Can dogs get cavities?' it's time to learn how to identify the signs of a dog cavity. Spotting a developing cavity before it causes advanced tooth decay can be challenging, so your dog needs to attend regular dental checkups at your vet's office.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with your vet right away as it could be an indication of a cavity:
- Excessive drooling
- A dark spot anywhere on the tooth
- Discomfort or pain in the mouth area
- Tooth discoloration, especially yellow or brown deposits near the gum line
- Dropping food
- Lack of appetite
How are Cavities in Dogs Treated?
First, your vet will assess the level of damage the cavity has caused to your pup's tooth. There are 5 stages of damage:
Stage 1: Only the enamel is 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.
During stage 1 or 2 tooth decay, the enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling.
For a dog tooth cavity that has reached Stage 3, your vet will perform a root canal procedure. During this procedure, the root canal will be disinfected, scrubbed, and then filled. Then, the procedure will finish the restoration and seal the crown.
For dogs that have been diagnosed with a Stage 4 or 5 cavity, the tooth will likely need to be extracted since it will be too damaged to restore. Your veterinarian may use a sealant on the surrounding teeth to help protect your dog's teeth against further tooth decay and cavities.
What Can I Do to Protect My Dog's Teeth Against Cavities?
Regular dental visits with your vet are key 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 become a more serious problem.
You can also take at-home measures to help your dog maintain their oral hygiene, such as at-home brushing between vet visits and providing your dog 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.