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Stages of Pet Dental Disease


For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Just like it is for you, oral health care is important for pets – regular, professional care from veterinarians and home care from pet owners can help keep plaque removed.


Plaque is a colorless film that contains large amounts of bacteria. If left unchecked, plaque builds up, creating infection, destroying gums and resulting in the loss of the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Preventive oral care can reduce the formation of plaque and help maintain proper oral health throughout a pet’s life.


All pets are at risk for developing dental problems. Once a pet displays any of the warning signs below, serious periodontal disease may be present. Start a preventive program of veterinarian-supervised dental care today.



 stage 1 gingivitis  stage 1 gingivitis cat
Stage 1 – Gingivitis – Margin of attached gingiva (gum) is inflamed and swollen. Plaque covering teeth. Treatment can reverse condition.
 stage 2 periodontitis canine  stage 2 periodontitis cat

Stage 2 – Early Periodontitis – Entire attached gum is inflamed and swollen. Mouth is painful and odor begins to be noticeable. Professional treatment and pet dental care can prevent this from becoming irreversible.

 stage 3 moderate periodontitis dog  stage 3 moderate periodontitis cat
Stage 3 – Moderate Periodontitis – Cherry red and bleeding attached gum is being destroyed buy infection and calculus (tartar). Sore mouth affects eating and behavior. Bad breath is present. Beginning of pet periodontal disease may become irreversible.
 stage 4 advanced periodontits dog  stage 4 advanced periodontits cat
Stage 4 – Advanced Periodontitis – Chronic bacterial infection is destroying the gum, tooth and bone. Bacteria may be spreading throughout the entire body via the bloodstream and may damage your pet’s kidneys, liver and heart.
Photos courtesy of Jan Bellows, D.V.M., P.A.,Dipl. A.V.D.C., Dipl. A.B.V.P


  • Pet owners can reduce the risk of oral disease. The first step in preventing oral disease is a routine physical examination, including a pet dental exam.
  • Look for warning signs of oral disease. Common indications include bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face or mouth and depression. If any of these signs are present, make an appointment with Neartown Animal Clinic for a pet dental exam.
  • Pet owners should practice a regular pet dental care regimen at home, which may include brushing the pets’ teeth with specially formulated toothpaste.
  • Pet owners should schedule regular follow-up care with their veterinarians and ask about specially formulated foods with proven benefits in plaque and tartar removal.

*See our complete line of home dental care products