4 Things Dog Owners Need To Know About Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis

3 January 2016
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Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) is a severe dental disease that can affect dogs. Here are four things dog owners need to know about it.

What are the signs of ANUG?

At first, dogs with this condition have red, swollen gum tissue. When you brush your dog's teeth, you'll notice blood on the toothbrush; you may also see blood on their chew toys or around their mouth. Over time, the symptoms get worse.

The redness and swelling spreads to other oral tissues, like the insides of the cheeks. These tissues will become ulcerated, and then they will die. In some cases, the ulceration becomes so severe that you'll be able to see exposed bone inside your dog's mouth.

What causes ANUG in dogs?

ANUG is caused by bacteria; researchers believe that either Nocardia or Actinomyces bacteria are responsible. Both of these bacteria are found in the soil, so it's easy for dogs to encounter them. These bacteria aren't a problem for healthy dogs, but in dogs with compromised immune systems, the bacteria can lead to a serious infection.

In one study, researchers injected the bacteria responsible for ANUG into the gums of unaffected dogs. Healthy dogs didn't get sick, but dogs that had first been given immunosuppressants did become ill. If your dog is immunocompromised due to disease, stress, or poor nutrition, they may be susceptible to ANUG, so pay close attention to their gums.

How serious is it?

ANUG is a very serious disease. It leads to serious pain for your dog, though that's not the worst part. The infection can spread from your dog's gums to their bones, leading to osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis is a life-threatening infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics, and in some cases, the affected bones need to be removed. To avoid this complication, take your dog to the vet at the first sign of bleeding gums.

Can vets treat ANUG?

Your vet will need to evaluate your dog's mouth to determine the most appropriate treatment method. In the early stages of the disease, ANUG can be treated with a thorough tooth cleaning and antibiotics. Since tooth cleaning is stressful for dogs, your pet will be anesthetized first, so they'll be asleep while the vet is working.

If your pet has ulcers, they'll be washed with oral antiseptics to prevent infection. If there is any dead tissue present, it will be debrided.

In severe cases, the vet may need to pull out some or all of your dog's teeth. This will need to be done if the ligaments beneath the teeth have been severely damaged by the infection. If your dog loses all of their teeth, they'll adjust, but you'll need to feed them a soft foods diet, like canned dog foot, instead of hard kibble.

If your dog's gums are red and bleeding, take them an animal emergency clinic by Mainland Animal Emergency Clinic or a vet immediately. They could have acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, a very severe type of gum disease.