Bacterial diseases

My Dog Has Rotten Teeth - Canine Periodontitis

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. April 18, 2022
My Dog Has Rotten Teeth - Canine Periodontitis

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We don't expect our dog's breath to smell particularly nice. The dog food which is so appetizing to canines is often quite unpleasant to us, for example. However, this does not mean it should smell rotten. If you notice your dog's breath is foul, you will need to take a look inside their mouth. When a dog has periodontitis, you will see various signs their teeth are rotting. These include a lot of tartar, discoloration of the teeth, changes to the gums and halitosis, i.e. the aforementioned bad breath. It is a complex clinical picture and prevention is always better than treatment.

At AnimalWised, we look at the reasons why your dog has rotten teeth. We understand the causes, symptoms and treatment of periodontitis in dogs, as well as what you can do to bets protect their teeth from rotting.

You may also be interested in: My Cat Has Yellow Teeth


  1. What is canine periodontitis?
  2. Reasons why my dog's teeth look rotten
  3. Symptoms of periodontitis in dogs
  4. Treatment of periodontitis in dogs
  5. How to prevent periodontal disease in dogs?

What is canine periodontitis?

Periodontal disease is a general term for various inflammatory processes which affect the tissues surrounding the teeth. For this reason it is also commonly known as gum disease. The cause of the inflammation is due to bacterial accumulation on the teeth.

Although periodontal disease is often used interchangeably with periodontitis, periodontitis specifically refers to the advanced stage of this disease. As it progresses, the tissues become damaged and pull away from the teeth. These can eventually lead to tooth loss, although it will progress to a stage where the teeth look rotten. Although it is more common in felines, periodontitis is diagnosed with some frequency in dogs. It is particularly common in elderly dogs, especially if their teeth are poorly maintained.

Reasons why my dog's teeth look rotten

One of the reasons periodontitis causes teeth to rot is due to the formation of bacterial plaque on the teeth and gums. This is the case with most dental problems in dogs. When we do not provide adequate oral hygiene for our dog, it will lead to the accumulation of food and other material between their teeth and gums.

These organic residues serves as food for the bacteria which are otherwise found naturally in a dog's mouth. They begin to reproduce in an accelerated way and form plaque.

When saliva comes into contact with bacterial plaque, the minerals react with the tooth enamel and with the bacteria itself to form tartar. In turn, the tartar adheres to the teeth and the bacteria continue to reproduce and feed.;This cycle of reproduction results in the gums becoming inflamed. This gum inflammation is known as gingivitis. The tartar also pushes the gums away from the teeth, exposing more enamel and weakening them.

If gingivitis is not treated quickly and properly, the bacteria will infect the muscle and bone tissues that support the teeth. This results in periodontal disease and eventually periodontitis in dogs. As this process advances, the gums around the teeth and the teeth themselves appear to be rotting.

While the causes of the teeth rotting will be due to periodontal disease, this problem can be exacerbated if they have underlying health problems. A senior dog's immune system is often lowered due to the affects of aging. Younger dogs may have trouble fighting bacterial plaque in their mouth if their immunity is lowered. This could be due to various diseases and health conditions, including viral infections or autoimmune diseases such as lupus in dogs. When a dog is immunocompromised, their ability to counteract bacteria is weakened and tissue quality in the mouth can be affected.

If a dog loses teeth, but there are no signs of rotting, it could be due to trauma. If they had a fall or were hit by a vehicle, it could cause them to lose teeth, even if they are otherwise healthy.

My Dog Has Rotten Teeth - Canine Periodontitis - Reasons why my dog's teeth look rotten

Symptoms of periodontitis in dogs

Canine periodontitis progresses quickly and silently. We must be attentive to its first symptoms to ensure an early diagnosis. To do this, remember to check your dog's mouth regularly and don't hesitate to go to the vet immediately if you observe any unusual signs.

Here are the main symptoms associated with periodontal disease in dogs:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Reddish and/or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Excessive drooling (with or without blood)
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Loss of appetite (associated with difficulty or discomfort when chewing)
  • Permanent urge to scratch the mouth
  • Swollen face and mouth
  • Abscesses in the mouth
  • Runny nose

If not treated quickly, periodontitis leads to gum recession, nerve damage and tooth loss. In the event that the bacteria continue to advance and reproduce, they can reach the bloodstream and cause sepsis. This affects vital organs (heart, kidneys, liver, etc.), causing infections and eventual insufficiencies. In more serious cases, periodontitis can be lethal for dogs, the reason immediate and specialized attention from a veterinarian is necessary.

In addition, the loss of teeth is not only an aesthetic issue, but can also interfere with the dog's ability to chew, their digestive process and their lifestyle in general. When you see your dog has bad breath, is missing teeth, has abscesses or there is any anomaly in your dog's mouth, take them to the veterinary clinic.

Treatment of periodontitis in dogs

When you observe any alteration in your dog's mouth, it will be key to go quickly to your trusted veterinarian. In the clinic, the vet will be able to evaluate the presence of tartar and gingivitis. They can perform x-rays to better see damage in the jaw and muscles, as well as test for autoimmune diseases which may contribute to rotten dog teeth.

If a diagnosis of periodontitis in the dog is confirmed, the treatment will depend on the severity of the infectious process and the state of health of each dog. Specific antibiotics are usually given to fight bacteria and control their progress in the body.

When bone loss is not observed (in mild or moderate cases), surgical intervention to remove tartar and dental polishing are usually effective in reversing the damage to the teeth. In the most advanced cases when bone loss has occurred, tooth extraction is usually unavoidable. Antibiotics may also be administered directly under the gums to control the advance of bacteria.

For many autoimmune diseases in dogs, there is no specific cure. Instead, symptom management and general health promotion will be required. Depending on the cause, antiviral medication may be given.

Also remember that if tooth loss occurs to a puppy, it could simply be their adult teeth are growing. You will see the dog's teeth will not be rotten, but the puppy may experience discomfort. Learn more with our article on when dogs lose their baby teeth.

My Dog Has Rotten Teeth - Canine Periodontitis - Treatment of periodontitis in dogs

How to prevent periodontal disease in dogs?

To prevent periodontitis in your dog, it is essential to provide them with adequate oral hygiene throughout their life. Regular brushing should be done with dental hygiene products suitable for dogs. In pet stores you can find several types of brushes and toothpastes made especially for our canines. You can even better ensure the quality of these products by making your own dog toothpaste at home.

If you have never brushed your dog's teeth or think you may be doing it wrong, you should know there are different ways to clean a dog's teeth. For example, you will also be able to buy certain products which a dog can chew to remove plaque and tartar. Some dry feed can actually serve this purpose, although it will depend on the quality. Dogs do not need sugar, so do not give them sweet food. This will not only help their teeth, but their overall diet.

You may want to consult your veterinarian about changing their diet if they have rotten teeth. A raw food diet, also known as a BARF diet for dogs, may be beneficial as the use of fresh and raw products may prevent accumulation of food in teeth.

Regardless of breed, remember that all dogs require adequate preventive medicine throughout their lives. This will include vaccination and deworming schedules, as well as regular checkups. A suitable diet and sufficient exercise will help bolster their immune system. Providing affection and mental stimulation will prevent stress which also helps their general well-being. Preventing rotten dog teeth requires localized hygiene of their mouth, as well as ensuring overall health.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Has Rotten Teeth - Canine Periodontitis, we recommend you visit our Bacterial diseases category.

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My Dog Has Rotten Teeth - Canine Periodontitis