Vaccination for Pets

By Dr. Purshyla Manikam, DVM
Veterinary Surgeon

One of the most common complaints by dog owners is their pet’s bad breath. Although bad breath may seem fairly harmless, it is typically a symptom of more severe dental disease occurring in your dog’s mouth.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases in dogs. Research has shown that 80% of dogs have periodontal disease by 3 years of age.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease in dogs is a progressive disease caused by bacteria in the mouth that damages the gums, bone, and other supporting structures of the teeth.

What are the signs your dog may have Periodontal Disease?

  • Difficulty eating
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the teeth or mouth
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Swelling under the eyes
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration or visible tartar
  • Loose, missing teeth or broken teeth
  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite

Just as in humans, dental disease causes considerable pain for dogs. However, dogs are excellent at hiding dental pain. Dogs may not show any signs of pain until very advanced stages of the disease, which can lead to the following:

  • Tooth Root Abscess

This is caused by an accumulation of pus that can rupture out of the skin and create open wounds on the cheeks or the chin.

  • Oronasal Fistulas
Oronasal fistulas are holes that pass between the mouth and the nasal passages. These may develop as a result of untreated periodontal disease. Symptoms include chronic sneezing and nasal discharge.
  • Jaw Fractures
Since advanced periodontal disease will lead to destruction of the bone that supports the teeth, it can increase the risk of jaw fractures.
  • Organ damage
In addition to local damage in the mouth, periodontal disease may also result in widespread organ damage. Organ damage from canine periodontal disease occurs when bacteria from the infected tooth roots and gums gain access to the blood stream (a condition called bacteremia).

How can you help your pet? 

  • Just as in people, daily teeth-brushing helps reduce accumulation of bacteria in the mouth. Use a veterinary-approved toothpaste, as human toothpastes can be toxic to dogs.
  • Regular inspection of your dog’s mouth for any abnormalities
  • Regular veterinary Dental Cleaning

Professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian should begin at 1 year of age to prevent periodontal disease from occurring, keeping in mind that most dogs develop periodontal disease by 3 years of age. This should be repeated annually, although some dogs with severe disease may need more regular treatment.

What is done during a veterinary dental cleaning?

Your dog will be placed under general anaesthesia and a complete oral examination will be performed.

Since your dog cannot tell a vet if there is pain associated with a particular tooth, dental x-rays may be needed to ensure nothing is missed.

The actual cleaning involves scaling to remove plaque and tartar. After scaling, the teeth are polished to remove residual plaque and to smooth the tooth surface that delays the accumulation of plaque and tartar.

If there are any problems detected, your dog may need additional treatments such as tooth extraction or surgery.

Apart from dental disease, this is also a good opportunity for your veterinarian to examine the oral cavity for any abnormalities such as oral tumours, which would be undetected otherwise.


Most owners report a distinct increase in activity levels and appetite after proper dental care. The goal of treatment is to ensure a healthy, pain-free oral cavity for your dog.