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Cavities in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Posted Feb 22nd, 2022

Cavities in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Cavities are not just an issue in humans, it is possible for your dog to also suffer from dental issues. Our Sacramento vets discuss cavities in dogs, how to prevent them and what to do if your dog develops one. 

Cavities In Dogs

Cavities are a common oral health concern that doesn't only affect humans, it can be an issue for your canine companions as well. Cavities are areas on the teeth which have been worn down and damaged due to prolonged exposure to the bacteria found in food. This bacteria builds up on the teeth for an extended period of time it becomes plaque which continues to build up and wear away at the outer layers of the tooth causing decay and damage. 

Once the enamel on your dog's tooth has been completely destroyed the bacteria will make their way to the root of the tooth and will begin to destroy it as well. In severe cases, this could result in infection, the tooth falling out or needing to be extracted. 

With appropriate preventive oral care, cavities can be relatively rare as dog food typically has low amounts of sugars and acids, but there are some breeds that are more likely to get them than others. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, bulldogs, poodles, and Shih Tzus are all predisposed to have higher instances of tooth decay. 

Signs That Your Dog May Have a Cavity

Routine oral care is especially important since it can be quite difficult to spot any early signs of cavities and periodontal disease before it reaches the point of decay. 

The following symptoms are common indicators of cavities and other oral health issues and you should make an appointment with your vet right away: 

  • Excessive drooling
  • A dark spot anywhere on the tooth 
  • Physical discomfort or pain in the mouth area 
  • Tooth discoloration, mainly yellow or brown deposits near the gum line
  • Dropping food
  • Lack of appetite 

Treatment For Cavities In Dogs

If your vet examines and diagnoses your dog with a cavity they will assess the amount of decay the cavity has caused to your pup's tooth. There are 5 stages of decay: 

Stage 1: Only enamel affected
Stage 2: Enamel and dentin affected
Stage 3: Enamel, dentin, and pulp chamber affected
Stage 4: Structural crown damage
Stage 5: Majority of crown lost, roots exposed

Your vet will need to assess and determine which stage of decay the cavity has reached before a treatment plan can be determined. 

If your vet deems it to be a stage 1 or 2 diagnosis, they will remove the enamel surrounding the cavity and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling. 

For a Stage 3 dog tooth cavity, your vet will most likely perform a root canal procedure, in which the root canal will be disinfected and scrubbed and then filled. The procedure will finish with the restoration and sealing of the crown. 

If the occasion arises that your dog has been diagnosed with a Stage 4 or 5 cavity, tooth removal will most likely be necessary as the damage at this stage may be too severe to save the tooth. Your veterinarian will likely use a sealant on the surrounding teeth in order to ensure further cavities do not form.  

Preventive Dental Care For Dogs 

In order to best protect your dog's teeth and maintain their oral health, it is imperative to schedule routine dental exams.  By bringing your dog in for regular cleanings your veterinarian is also able to catch any developing oral health issues and suggest treatment options before they turn into a more serious problem. 


Your vet will also be able to recommend an at-home oral health care plan which might include regular brushing as well as dental treats and chew toys to help remove plaque and tartar buildup from your dog's teeth.

Are you worried that your dog may be suffering from a cavity? Book a dental examination with our Sacramento vets today!

New Patients Welcome

Elkhorn-Walerga Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Sacramento companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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