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Gingivitis In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, And Natural Remedies

Dogs are prone to various diseases, and one of the most common is periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene can lead to this condition, affecting at least 80% of dogs by age 3, as per a study in the National Library of Medicine. Maintaining good oral health is crucial for dogs as it can affect their overall well-being.

Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, is one of the early signs of periodontal disease. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the signs of gingivitis in dogs and take the necessary steps to treat and prevent it.

This article will provide an overview of gingivitis in dogs, its causes, symptoms, and natural remedies. It will also cover dog care tips for preventing gingivitis and maintaining optimal oral hygiene to keep your pup healthy.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a common condition in which the gums become inflamed, red, and swollen. It is due to the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which can lead to bacteria growth and subsequent infection.

Good oral hygiene is essential for maintaining canine dental health, as untreated gingivitis can cause the gums to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth and leading to tooth loss. Additionally, the bacteria that cause gingivitis can enter the bloodstream and potentially cause damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. These are irreversible and can have long-lasting effects on a dog’s health.

Gingivitis In Dogs

Dogs can develop gingivitis due to poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing their teeth regularly, feeding them a poor diet, or not providing enough chew toys. Additionally, smaller dog breeds are more prone to developing gingivitis as their teeth are typically packed closer together.

In an epidemiological study by Lund et al., 19.5% of the dogs examined had some degree of gingivitis, ranging from mild to severe. That means that almost one in every five dogs had gingivitis.

In addition to dental routine and breed, other factors that can contribute to the development of gingivitis in dogs include genetics, underlying medical conditions, and certain medications. As with humans, early intervention and regular dental cleanings can help prevent the progression of gingivitis and maintain optimal oral health in dogs.

Causes Of Gingivitis In Dogs

The primary cause of gingivitis in dogs is the buildup of plaque and tartar on their teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums, which can harden into tartar if left untreated. The presence of plaque and tartar can cause the gums to become inflamed and swollen, leading to gingivitis.

Bacteria and food particles can also contribute to the development of gingivitis. When food particles get stuck between the teeth and gums, they can provide a breeding ground for bacteria. As the bacteria grow, they can release toxins that irritate the gums and cause inflammation.

For example, dogs that eat a poor diet or are fed table scraps may be more susceptible to developing gingivitis due to the increased amount of bacteria and food particles in their mouth. Additionally, dogs that do not receive regular dental care or have underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, may be more prone to developing gingivitis.

Gingivitis Symptoms

Gingivitis in dogs can cause various symptoms that can vary in severity. Some of the most common symptoms of gingivitis in dogs include the following:


dog experiencing Redness

One of the most noticeable symptoms of gingivitis in dogs is redness of the gums. The gums may appear bright red and swollen and bleed when touched. In severe cases, the redness may extend to other mouth areas, such as the tongue and roof. For instance, if your dog has bright red spots on its tongue, it could be a sign of gingivitis.


Gingivitis can cause gums swelling, making it difficult for dogs to eat and drink. The swelling may be more pronounced in certain mouth areas, such as around the canine teeth or molars. You will notice that your pup’s gums look bigger and puffy than usual. If left untreated, the gums may become so swollen that they start to recede.

Bleeding Gums

Gingivitis can cause bleeding gums, which may be noticed when dogs chew on toys or eat. The bleeding may be mild or more severe and can sometimes lead to the formation of blood clots or visible blood on their toys.

Bad Breath

Gingivitis can cause bad breath in dogs, which can be caused by the buildup of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria can rotten dog teeth and release a foul odor. If you notice your pup’s breath smells bad, it could be an early sign of gingivitis and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Loose Teeth


As gingivitis progresses, it can cause the teeth to become loose or even fall out. This can make it difficult for dogs to eat and drink, and can lead to more serious dental issues if left untreated.

Reluctance to Eat

Reluctance to Eat

Dogs with gingivitis may experience pain or discomfort when eating, which can cause them to avoid food or chew on one side of their

10 Natural Remedies To Treat Gingivitis

Several natural remedies can help alleviate gingivitis in dogs. These remedies can be used with professional dental care to help prevent the progression of gingivitis and maintain good oral health in dogs. Here are 10 natural remedies that may be effective:

  1. Brushing with coconut oil: Coconut oil has antibacterial properties that can help reduce inflammation and prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. In a 2015 study of 60 adolescents, oil pulling with coconut oil was found to be effective in reducing bacterial plaque. Simply apply a small amount of coconut oil to a toothbrush and brush your dog’s teeth as you usually would.
  2. Using herbal rinses: Cleaning your dog’s teeth with herbal rinses such as chamomile, calendula, and echinacea can help reduce inflammation and promote healing of the gums. To make an herbal rinse, steep the herbs in hot water for several minutes and allow the solution to cool before using it to rinse your dog’s mouth.
  3. Incorporating dental chews: Dental chews can help remove plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth and gums. Look for chews that contain natural ingredients such as enzymes, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. Feeding a balanced diet: A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help support overall oral health in dogs. Include foods high in vitamin C, such as sweet potatoes and leafy greens, which can help reduce inflammation in the gums.
  5. Using probiotics: Probiotics can help promote healthy gut bacteria and reduce the risk of periodontal disease. Look for probiotic supplements specifically formulated for dogs.
  6. Offering raw bones: Raw bones can help clean teeth and gums and promote healthy chewing behavior. However, it’s essential to supervise your dog while they are chewing to prevent choking or tooth fractures.
  7. Adding supplements: Supplements such as fish oil and vitamin E can help reduce inflammation in the gums and promote overall oral health in dogs.
  8. Using a water additive: Water additives can help reduce the buildup of plaque and tartar and promote fresh breath. Look for products that contain natural ingredients, such as chlorhexidine and xylitol.
  9. Massaging the gums: Massaging the gums can help improve circulation and promote healing of the gums. Use a clean finger or a soft-bristled toothbrush to massage the gums gently.
  10. Try acupuncture: Acupuncture can help reduce inflammation in the gums and promote healing. Look for a certified veterinary acupuncturist to administer treatments.

Prevention Tips For Gingivitis In Dogs

toothbrushing dog's teeth

Preventing gingivitis in dogs is key to maintaining good oral health and preventing more serious dental issues from developing. Here are some tips for preventing gingivitis in dogs:

  1. Regular brushing: Brushing your dog’s teeth is one of the most effective ways to prevent gingivitis. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs, and brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week.
  2. Healthy diet: A healthy diet that is high in vitamins and minerals can help support overall oral health in dogs. Feed your dog a balanced diet that includes foods that are high in vitamin C, such as sweet potatoes and leafy greens.
  3. Appropriate chew toys: Chew toys can help promote healthy chewing behavior and keep your dog’s teeth clean. Look for toys that are specifically designed for dental health, such as those that are made with rubber or nylon and have ridges or bumps that can help remove plaque and tartar.
  4. Professional cleanings: Professional dental cleanings performed by a veterinarian can help remove plaque and tartar buildup that cannot be removed through regular brushing. Aim to have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year.
  5. Dental exams: Regular dental exams can help identify potential dental issues before they progress. Have your veterinarian check your dog’s teeth and gums during their annual wellness exam.

Gingivitis in dogs is a common condition that affects their oral health. As an owner, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms of gingivitis and take steps to prevent and treat it. Natural remedies and practical tips can help reduce inflammation, remove plaque and tartar buildup, and maintain optimal dental health in dogs. Make sure to practice good oral hygiene with your pup, and regular professional dental cleanings to ensure their teeth and gums stay healthy. With these tips, you can keep your furry friend’s smile healthy for years.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Is gingivitis painful for dogs?

Yes, gingivitis can be painful for dogs. It can cause inflammation, redness, and bleeding of the gums, which can make it uncomfortable for dogs to eat or chew. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress and cause more serious oral health issues.

2) How long can a dog live with gingivitis?

With proper treatment and management, dogs with gingivitis can live a normal lifespan. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious oral health issues and potentially shorten a dog’s lifespan.

3) What does gingivitis in dogs look like?

Gingivitis in dogs typically looks like inflamed and red gums. Other common symptoms include bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth, and reluctance to eat. As the condition progresses, the gums may become more swollen and painful.

4) What is stage 4 gingivitis in dogs?

There is no standardized staging system for gingivitis in dogs. However, if the condition is left untreated, it can progress to more severe forms of periodontal disease, which can involve bone and tooth loss. 

5) Can dog food cause gingivitis?

Poor quality or inappropriate dog food can contribute to the development of gingivitis. Foods high in carbohydrates and sugars can increase plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, leading to inflammation of the gums.

6) How fast can gingivitis go away in dogs?

The time it takes for gingivitis to go away in dogs depends on the severity of the condition and the treatment approach. With proper care and management, mild cases of gingivitis can improve within a few weeks.

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