Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Cavities in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Cavities in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Dental problems in dogs are equally troublesome as they are in humans. If you've experienced the discomfort of having a cavity in your teeth, you can understand how it can affect dogs too. Our team of veterinarians in Poway will now explain the reasons, signs, and treatments for cavities in dogs. 

Cavities in Dogs

Regularly caring for and cleaning our pups' mouths is crucial to prevent a range of oral health problems such as gum disease and cavities (also called tooth decay).

The Cause of Cavities in Dogs

Just like humans, when our dogs eat, bacteria in their mouth naturally consume the leftover food debris and turn it into plaque. Plaque is the white substance that sticks to teeth throughout the day. It is mildly acidic and sticky, gradually eroding the protective outer layers of your dog's teeth over time. This process also contributes to the unpleasant breath often associated with middle-aged or senior dogs.

If your dog's mouth is not cleaned regularly, the acidic plaque can eventually cause cavities or tooth decay by creating small or large holes in their enamel. Certain pre-existing conditions in your dog's mouth can increase the likelihood of cavities, in addition to a lack of routine cleanings. 

These conditions include:

  • A diet with lots of fermentable carbohydrates (often found in poor-quality dog food or high-carb table scraps)
  • Poor general health
  • Misaligned or crowded teeth in your dog's mouth
  • Gaps between teeth and gums caused by gum recession
  • A low pH level in your dog's saliva
  • Weaker-than-normal tooth enamel (caused by poor mineralization)

The Symptoms of Canine Cavities

Your dog's cavities can cause different levels of pain or discomfort depending on their severity. Cavities are graded on a scale of 5 stages, ranging from 1 (minor damage to the enamel) to 5 (significant loss of the crown and exposed roots).

Here are some common symptoms associated with a dental cavity in dogs:

  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth 
  • Discolored teeth
  • Noticeable Tartar buildup
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Bad breath 
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat 
  • Pain or swelling in or around the mouth

For some pups, the pain and discomfort of a cavity is enough to stop them from eating enough (or eating altogether). If you notice any of the above symptoms, bring your dog to your Poway vet for a dental checkup and treatment as soon as possible.

Treatments for Your Dog's Cavity

There are two main types of treatment for dog cavities: professional treatment for existing cavities and preventive treatment for cavities in their early stages or before they occur in your dog.

Restorative Dental Treatment For a Canine Cavity

The treatment for your dog's cavity depends on how severe it is. If the cavity is caught early, your vet may use a fluoride wash or bonding agent to protect it and monitor it in the future.

If the cavity has progressed further, the damaged parts of the tooth like enamel, dentin, or pulp will be removed and the tooth will be restored with a filling, root canal, or other treatment. In advanced stages (4 or 5), the tooth may need to be removed to prevent further damage.

Recovery from filling or tooth removal treatment is usually quick, but you may need to take special care to prevent your dog from harming their mouth or the new filling.

Routine Care to Prevent Cavities

To keep your dog's dental and overall health in the best shape and prevent cavities, follow a regular oral hygiene routine at home using specialized toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for dogs.

It's also important to bring your dog to our veterinary clinic at Poway at least once a year for a professional dental exam and cleaning. This allows us to perform a thorough cleaning of your dog's teeth and catch cavities early on, when they can still be prevented.

Have you noticed any of the listed symptoms of cavities in your dog? Bring them to the vets at Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital today to have them checked, cleaned and treated for any oral health issues. 

New Patients Welcome

Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Poway companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (858) 486-8860