You may be groaning inwardly at another post on canine periodontal disease, but
the doggone truth is, many of us pet parents could stand to freshen up on the
topic. That’s not a guess, it’s a fact: 17 out of 20 dogs over the age of three
have some level of periodontal disease that needs treatment. One of the most
common canine diseases, it’s also one of the most easily prevented. Dental
disease not only “stinks” at the source, it’s also known to negatively impact
the health of the whole body. It’s not a stretch to say that to have true
wellness, your dog’s teeth and gums need to be as healthy as possible. I know
all of you are busy, so I’ll briefly cover the three most salient points to
remember when it comes to canine dental care. You might want to take notes, or
simply print this out for reference, as there will be an oral exam. At least, I
certainly hope so!
1. Dental Disease Can Be Painful, Even Deadly
I’m sure all of you know that dental disease causes “doggie breath”, but you may
not be aware that chronic inflammation can cause pain, lead to infections, and
serves as a precursor to much more serious issues. For instance, severe
periodontal disease is significantly correlated with increased risk of heart
disease, such as infected heart valves (Glickman et al., 2009). Chronically
inflamed and infected gums also increase the risk for kidney disease, limiting
the amount of toxins they can purify from the blood (Glickman et al., 2011). I’d
ask that you keep in mind that inflamed and infected gums are just as painful
for dogs as they are for humans, potentially lowering your companion animal’s
quality of life. The bottom line is, a healthier mouth makes for a happier dog!
2. For Dental Disease, There is No Magic Bullet
Even though periodontal disease is all-too-common, many veterinary researchers
are still baffled by its causes, and therefore, the best method for prevention.
We do know that plaque-forming bacteria play a role. A recent study (Riggio et
al., 2011) showed a wide diversity of canine oral flora, both in health and
disease states, including previously undiscovered species of bacteria!
Not knowing exactly what’s going on makes it especially difficult to find a
cure, but that hasn’t stopped big companies from trying. In 2006, pharmaceutical
giant Pfizer introduced a vaccine for periodontal disease, aimed at targeting
three specific bacteria associated with periodontitis (including Porphyromonas
denticanis, P. gulae, and P. salivosa). Following the release of the vaccine,
Pfizer Animal Health conducted a 4-year review to determine the true
effectiveness of the vaccine. Not surprising to me, there was no demonstrable
reduction in the progression of periodontal disease, and the company
discontinued this product in April of 2011. As a holistic veterinarian, I don’t
usually put much faith in vaccines, other than core vaccinations.
Simply put, when it comes to periodontal disease, there are no magic bullets.
3. An Ounce of Prevention is Your Best Bet
Recent studies indicate that treatment of canine periodontal disease may not
resolve the attendant inflammation, which means negative repercusions may
continue for some time (Rawlinson et al., 2011). The only dependable method is
to try and prevent onset of the disease in the first place. I can’t stress this
enough … for the most part, periodontal disease is preventable! I strongly
encourage you to make canine dental care a top priority at an early age. Your
efforts will be rewarded, as proper dental can improve your dog’s chances of
The most effective way to prevent gum disease is to brush your dog’s teeth on a
regular basis. Don’t worry if you don’t know how – simply watch this Dr. Sarah
video to learn the proper technique. In addition to routine brushing, a sound,
wholesome diet provides a great foundation for health, and feeding your dog
Life’s Abundance Gourmet Dental Treats will provide additional nutrients to help
support healthy teeth and bones. Our Dental Treats also feature a variety of
whole grains, added calcium, extra phosphorous and even a dash of parsley to
help freshen breath.
If your pup already has tartar build-up and evidence of gum disease, do not
despair! Make an appointment today to have her teeth cleaned and any infections
treated. Soon, she’ll be back on the road to wellness.
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr. Jane Bicks
Riggio MP, Lennon A, Taylor DJ, Bennett D. Molecular identification of bacteria
associated with canine periodontal disease. Vet Microbiol. 2011 Jun
2;150(3-4):394-400. Epub 2011 Mar 10.
Rawlinson JE, Goldstein RE, Reiter AM, Attwater DZ, Harvey CE. Association of
periodontal disease with systemic health indices in dogs and the systemic
response to treatment of periodontal disease. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011 Mar
Glickman LT, Glickman NW, Moore GE, Lund EM, Lantz GC, Pressler BM. Association
between chronic azotemic kidney disease and the severity of periodontal disease
in dogs. Prev Vet Med. 2011 May 1;99(2-4):193-200. Epub 2011 Feb 23.
Glickman LT, Glickman NW, Moore GE, Goldstein GS, Lewis HB. Evaluation of the
risk of endocarditis and other cardiovascular events on the basis of the
severity of periodontal disease in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2009 Feb
Beard G, Emily P, Milligan & Williams C: American Animal Hospital Association,
Veterinary Dentistry, Course I, 1989.