How to Treat Inflamed Gums in Dogs?

Keeping your dog’s teeth and gums in tip-top condition is vital to maintaining their overall general health in good condition, too. Associated with a range of problematic medical conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, food/feeding problems, malnutrition, and more, gingivitis and other gum diseases are preventable with the proper care and attention.

How to treat dog gingivitis at home?

Let’s take a closer look…

What is Gum Disease in Dogs?

Gum disease is a catch-all term used for various conditions related to the gums and teeth. Other catch-all words, such as dental or periodontal disease, also know it.

As well as being a prevalent condition in humans, it’s also widespread in canines. Some experts believe up to two-thirds of all puppies will have some brush with dental disease past the age of three years.

Here are a few other conditions and terms you may encounter if your poor pup has dental or gum disease.


According to research, gingivitis is the medical name for painful and inflamed gums, and it is usually the very first stage or symptom.

Symptoms of Gingivitis in Dogs

  • Bleeding gums;
  • Swollen gums;
  • Redder-than-usual gums;
  • Food and water avoidance;
  • Pawing at the face/mouth.

Tooth Abscess

An abscess is a collection of pus caused by a bacterial infection. It usually affects the root of a tooth but can happen anywhere in the mouth and around the body.

Symptoms of a Tooth Abscess in Dogs

Your dog will likely display signs of pain and a swollen cheek, jaw, or just underneath the eye. Eating, drinking, and even moving the jaw are incredibly difficult for a dog with an abscessed tooth.

You may miss symptoms like water or food avoidance if you are at work all day and no one is in the house with your puppy. This is especially true if more than one dog is in the place. For this reason, using something akin to a Petlifedays interactive pet camera will give you all the information you might miss.

Four Stages of Dental Disease in Dogs

Dental disease doesn’t happen overnight; it takes a long time for the condition to materialize. Often, the beginning stages of the disease will happen without you (the owner) ever realizing something isn’t right.

There are four main stages of dental disease in dogs. They are:

1: Normal, Healthy Teeth

Your pup’s teeth will look normal and just as they usually would. At this stage, taking care of them properly, and using the preventive measures listed below, will ensure they stay in healthy, good condition for as long as possible.

2: Developing Plaque & Gingivitis

Your dog probably drools a lot. When a lot of saliva builds up, it eventually turns into plaque. Bacteria also turns into plaque, drool, and any leftover food remnants. If the bacteria manage to access the gums, gingivitis can and probably will occur.

Over time, the plaque creates what is known as a ‘biofilm.’ This film makes it much harder to get rid of the plaque in standard ways, so the longer you leave plaque to develop, the more complicated it will be to get rid of/treat. For this reason, you should have a plaque on your dog’s teeth treated as soon as possible.

3: Developing Tartar

If plaque isn’t treated, it then turns into Tartar – and no, I don’t mean the sauce you’d usually eat with fish.

Over time, the leftover ‘bits’ that have turned into plaque will change color and become much more complicated. The patches will get darker and browner, usually starting with where the teeth meet the gums. That’s the browning you often see on doggy (and human) teeth.

As the plaque and Tartar get older and browner, the patches get even harder (on top of the biofilm), making treating it even more challenging.

Tartar is not good, in a very not good way. First and foremost, there are many bacteria and other bugs in it, which can cause gingivitis, tooth abscesses, and even problems with other body parts. In severe cases, Tartar can lead to septicemia, also known as blood poisoning – which can be fatal exceptionally quickly.

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4: Dental (Gum and Tooth) Disease

If your doggo has tartar and sensitive, inflamed gums (gingivitis), they already have dental disease, which exists as a scale – mild to severe gum or dental disease.

How is Gum Disease Diagnosed in Dogs?

The later stages of gum disease are more evident than the latter stages, just as with most medical conditions. In the later stages, a visual examination is often all it takes for a vet to diagnose gingivitis in dogs.

The earliest stages of gum disease in dogs can present with very few/no symptoms.

Dog Breeds Prone to Dental Disease

Some dogs are prone to gum and teeth problems, primarily due to the shape of the muzzle. These include:

  • Pugs;
  • Shih Tzus;
  • Bulldogs;
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels;
  • Whippets;
  • Greyhounds;
  • Yorkshire Terriers.

Older dogs are also more prone to gingivitis and other dental or gum diseases.

You will need to take better care of more at-risk dogs. Your vet may even advise more frequent checkup trips, or a special diet, to properly care for your dog’s specific needs.

It is also common for dogs to suffer from gum disease if they are late to lose their baby teeth. This should happen around four to six months of age. Some vets will advise surgically removing the first set of teeth if they take too long to fall out naturally. A crowded mouth can cause many problems, the dental disease being just one.

Dog Gum Disease Prevention

There are plenty of preventative measures you can take to prevent doggy dental disease, including:

  • Feeding them a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Introduce dry/hard food to the diet occasionally (to scrape off plaque, etc.).
  • Providing plenty of fresh, clean water.
  • Brush their teeth or use teeth-cleaning treats as part of your routine.
  • Get their teeth professionally and adequately cleaned at the vet.
  • Invest in teeth-cleaning-focused toys.
  • Please make sure they get plenty of exercise.
  • Visit the vet regularly and have your pup checked over.
  • Have baby teeth surgically removed if they don’t fall out naturally?
  • Avoid bones, which can crack or break teeth.
  • Get broken, or cracked doggy teeth looked at by a vet.

In short, the healthier your pooch is overall, its teeth and gums will be more beneficial!

How to Treat Gingivitis in Dogs

Your vet will approach your dog’s case of dental disease in a way that minimizes their suffering while also treating the root cause. Sometimes, this will mean a course of antibiotics, which can be accompanied by pain relief. Anti-inflammatory medication will also help with the symptoms of gingivitis.

Surgery might be necessary in severe cases to deal with serious problems. This can mean the removal of one or more teeth, draining of pus-filled abscesses, root canal treatments, etc.

A change in routine going forward is also likely to be recommended, focusing on the preventative measures listed above.

Emergency Fund

The thought of a doggy emergency, such as septic shock from untreated dental disease, is horrifying, and no pet parent wants to experience it. It’s never pleasant to watch your pet in distress, and that’s before you think about the cost of vet care.

Petlifedays Emergency Fund might be able to help you with that side of things, though!

For just $1 per day, you can ensure that you have emergency treatment for your pets when you need it the most. Up to six furry friends and up to $3,000 of emergency care every year will be covered.

Be proactive about pet problems with Petlifedays!


Will dental disease in dogs go away by itself?

No, it won’t. A simple and mild dental disease can quickly become potentially fatal septicemia when left untreated.

Do home remedies for dogs with dental disease work?

In very mild cases, home treatment is a workable approach for dogs with dental disease. However, if your pup already has gingivitis, the disease has progressed into the second and possibly third stages. It is best to speak to a vet before making any decisions.

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