You are just cleaning your dog’s teeth or doing a routine check in his mouth when you notice that his gums are swollen and bleeding. It can be quite scary at first when you notice that your pooch has bleeding gums. Bleeding gums in dogs is almost always an indication of a more severe problem, so it requires urgent attention. You will, however, need to know the signs to look out for to tell whether your dog has bleeding gums.
Identifying the problem
Bleeding gums in dogs do not necessarily mean that the gums are literally bleeding though at times the gums do bleed. Bleeding gums in dogs manifest more subtly making it undetectable to most dog owners. You can, however, detect the problem with a quick oral inspection. One of the most common symptoms of bleeding gums is inflammation or irritation along the gum line. Damaged or loose teeth, abscesses, and bad breath can also be an indication of bleeding gums. Signs of bleeding gums do not occur in the mouth alone, dogs with bleeding gums tend to lose their appetite and lose weight. Difficulty in chewing bones can also signify a bleeding gums problem. Now that we have identified the symptoms, let us look at what causes it.
Causes of bleeding gums in dogs
Bleeding gums can result from trauma or injury. Trauma and injury are some of the less serious causes of bleeding gums. Dogs tend to injure their mouths a lot when chewing bones and toys which can cause bleeding from the open wound on the gums. Bleeding gums can also stem from poor oral hygiene and ingestion of toxic foods. Poor oral hygiene in dogs can cause inflammations which can, in turn, result in bleeding gums. Intake of poisonous foods such as garlic and chocolate or toxic materials like bleach can also result in bleeding gums.
The most severe cause of bleeding gums, however, is inflammations from systematic diseases. Bleeding gums in dogs are sometimes a sign of underlying medical conditions which can sometimes turn fatal for your pooch. One of those medical conditions is dog gingivitis. What is dog gingivitis you ask? Well, it is a reversible oral inflammation that stems from poor oral hygiene. It is caused by bacteria which accumulate due to tartar build up and plaque. Gingivitis is treatable but can progress into a more serious periodontal disease if left untreated. Periodontal disease causes painful loss of teeth and can shorten a dog’s lifespan considerably.
Cancer is another cause for bleeding gums. Cancer is the most serious cause of bleeding gums since it is prevalent in dogs especially as they age and can prove fatal if it is left unmanaged. Malignant oral tumors occurring on the dog’s gums can cause bleeding gums. The biggest challenge is that most oral tumors are difficult to detect early and only come to most dog owners’ attention when they have progressed. Conducting regular oral checkups on your pooch can, however, help you identify any oral tumors early enough to have them surgically removed.
The first thing that you should do when you notice that your dog has bleeding gums is to take him to the vet. In fact, taking your dog to the vet should be the first thing that you do whenever you notice that something is off with your dog. The first thing that the vet will do is to diagnose the cause of your dog’s bleeding gums since the treatment varies depending on the cause. The treatment plan can range from professional teeth cleaning to a full-fledged surgery to remove a tumor. It can sometimes also involve dietary changes to eradicate adverse reactions that may cause inflammations and improve nutrition.
For gingivitis, the vet starts with an oral exam to get a general idea of the severity and come up with a treatment plan. If the gingivitis is in the early stages, the vet will need to carry out professional teeth cleaning on your pooch. Professional teeth cleaning involve the use of anesthesia which comes with some risks. The use of anesthesia comes at the risk of your pooch having a reaction which can range from mild to severe. In rare cases, anesthesia might cause extreme adverse reactions which can result in anaphylactic shock and death.
Having your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned does not come cheap, so in case you are a little cash-strapped, you can try home remedies like using a chlorhexidine rinse. Chlorhexidine is an antibacterial solution that helps remove teeth stains and kill bacteria in dog’s teeth. Squirt a little amount of Chlorhexidine into each cheek and twice or once a day for a few days.
If your dog develops bleeding gums from injury or trauma, you can use a disinfectant solution to clean the wound to prevent infection. If the injury is too serious, it would be imperative to take your dog to the veterinary to have it checked it out and maybe get some medication. You will need to feed your dog on soft foods until the dog is fully recovered. In the cases of serious mouth injuries, your dog might be unable to pick up food from the bowl so you will need to feed the dog small amounts of food from your hand until he recovers.
Cancer-related bleeding gums are the most difficult to treat because it is difficult to identify cancerous oral tumors early. If detected early, oral tumors can be surgically removed. The vet would also need to remove the tissue surrounding the tumor to be sure that the all the cancerous cells have been removed. Sometimes, the vet might be required to remove part of the dog’s jaw. If the tumor has spread by the time it is detected, the vet can inject chemotherapy into the tumor to slow its growth. Both surgery and chemotherapy will make your dog’s mouth sore, so you will need to feed your dog on soft foods during the recovery period. Your vet can also prescribe special dog food for dogs with cancer.
Bleeding gums is a painful condition for dogs, but it can be prevented by practising good dental hygiene. Ideally, you are supposed to brush your dog’s teeth twice a day. Cleaning your dog’s teeth regularly prevents the accumulation of tartar and plaque which promote the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease in dogs. Make sure, however, to use the right dog toothpaste such as Petrodex Enzymatic toothpaste when brushing your dog’s teeth. You can also get your dog some veterinarian approved bones and chews to keep his mouth clean.