When a dog’s gum tissue, also known as the gingival, it could be a sign of gingival hyperplasia, or GH for short, a common condition found in dogs with poor oral hygiene.
It is especially common for Boxers, Border Collies, Dalmatians, Doberman Pinschers, and Great Danes, but any dog can get it if the owner does not take regular preventative measures. These can be as simple as regular teeth-cleaning toys or treats or a little more expensive, but effective, teeth cleaning at the vet.
Symptoms of Gingival Hyperplasia
Some of the most common symptoms include the following:
• Gums becoming thick
• The height of the gums has increased
• Gums are a reddish color, not the healthy pink
• Growths forming on or along the gum lining
• Teeth becoming covered by the gums
Types of Gingival Hyperplasia
There are three main types of gingival hyperplasia: idiopathic, breed disposition, and medication-induced.
Idiopathic GH is when there is no known cause of the condition and there is no way to determine the cause. Breed disposition GH is when only specific breeds who are susceptible to GH get the condition, the same breeds that are listed above. Lastly, medication-induced GH is exactly as the name says, the condition was a result of a certain medication that the dog took.
Natural things that can cause GH are bacteria or plaque that is along the gum line as a result of no cleaning. However, some medications like immunosuppressants, calcium channel blockers, and anticonvulsants are known to cause medication-induced GH.
A vet will thoroughly inspect the dog’s mouth and gums for signs of GH before determining the next step. This is usually done while the dog is asleep from anesthesia. If there are growths, the vet will most likely want to take a biopsy to rule out cancer as well as an x-ray to determine if there the amount of the extensive damage as a result of the GH not being treated for a long period of time.
Depending on the extent of the damage, and if there are any other medical factors that could come into play, the average treatment would be deep teeth cleaning and possible surgical repair. This is mainly needed to reshape the gum line, alter the pockets, and/or remove any growths that have been deemed a result of the GH. Taking oral antibiotics is also common, especially if harmful bacteria was found in the dog’s mouth.
Surgery can be expensive and time-consuming, but it is also very simple so there is little to no risk to the dog’s health.
After all of the treatments, the dog will need time to recover. Usually, the vet will keep them overnight, but if not, they will give instructions on the special care that is needed. There will be one or two follow-ups to ensure the dog’s gums are healing at a healthy rate with no side effects.
It is pretty common for the dog to be on pain and/or anti-inflammatory medication after surgery. The age of the dog can play a large factor in treatment and recovery, but if the dog’s health is not in decline, there is usually no cause for worry.