Cavities In Dogs

While periodontal disease is certainly the biggest dental health issue plaguing dogs today, it’s not the only one that pet owners should be concerned about. Unlike humans, cavities in dogs are not seen frequently, but they certainly do occur. Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery can help you take care of all of your dog’s dental needs, including cavities. If you suspect your dog may have a cavity, here’s what to do. 

Why Are Cavities Rare in Dogs?

Human saliva has a PH of 6.5 to 7. The saliva of dogs and  is slightly alkaline, around 7.5 to 8. The difference in ph means that dogs do not get dental cavities nearly as frequently as humans. The alkaline nature of dog saliva neutralizes the acids that are produced by bacteria that start to damage the enamel. Additionally, dogs consume fewer high-sugar or high-acidity foods than humans. These types of foods are associated with the types of bacteria that cause cavities. The shape of a dog’s teeth may also help minimize tooth decay, because their teeth are much pointier and don’t have as many flat chewing surfaces as humans. The back teeth that do have the flatter chewing surfaces are the ones most likely to be affected.

Are Cavities in Dogs Different Than in Humans?

Cavities are damaged areas on a tooth, and the causes of human and canine cavities are very similar. Cavities occur when bacteria in your pet’s mouth feed on the food residue and secrete acids which start dissolving away the enamel on the tooth, exposing the underlying dentin. Over time, tooth decay can reach the root canal inside the tooth, causing extreme pain. If tooth decay reaches this point, the tooth will die and need to be extracted.

What Are the Symptoms of Cavities in Dogs?

Because dogs don’t usually show when they’re in pain, it can be difficult to tell whether or not they have a cavity until it has progressed significantly. While you might have to take your dog to a veterinary dentist for a formal diagnosis, there are several signs and symptoms that you should watch for.


Symptoms of canine cavities include:

  • Drooling more than usual
  • Discoloration of the teeth, particularly yellow or brown coloration on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth
  • A dark spot anywhere on a tooth
  • Dropping food
  • Loss of appetite or eating and drinking less than usual


Unfortunately, in most cases there are no obvious signs of a dog having a cavity. A detailed oral exam after cleaning the teeth is required to find cavities in dogs.

Treating Canine Cavities in Montana 

If your dog has a cavity, it may be able to be treated by removing the diseased tissue and placing a tooth colored composite restoration (filling). However, if the cavity is in an advanced stage and the tooth has died, extraction may be the only treatment option. Dr. Tony Woodward at Montana Pet Dental is Montana’s only Board-Certified Veterinary Dentist. Call us to schedule an appointment to evaluate your pet at our Bozeman location.