5 Ways Dental Disease Affects Your Pet
Phew! Have you noticed your dog’s smelly breath lately?
If your dog or cat hasn’t had their teeth cleaned within the last 6-12 months, odds are they have dental disease. In fact, dental disease affects 80% of pets over the age of three.
The most common type of tooth problem in dogs and cats is called periodontal disease, or disease around the tooth. Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria, food and saliva accumulate around the base of the tooth. We get rid of this stuff on our own teeth with a toothbrush twice a day; for our pets, it’s not that simple.
Although dental disease is entirely preventable and curable, if it isn’t treated it can become a life-shortening disease that can cause a number of serious health problems in our pets.
- Dental disease is a chronic bacterial infection
A simplified way of thinking about dental disease is that it is an infection. The infection might be a mild one with a little bit of that brown stuff around the base of the tooth or a severe infection with red, angry gums and pockets of bacteria next to the teeth. This infection is there all the time, so your pet’s immune system is constantly having to fight that battle.
- Dental disease can hurt the liver
The liver is incredibly important for detoxifying the blood. When pets have bacteria around their teeth, this ends up in the bloodstream and the liver often takes the brunt of this.
- Dental disease causes loss of teeth
The accumulation of plaque and bacteria around the teeth attacks the immune system and the immune system recognises this foreign substance and tries to destroy it. In the process, the ligaments holding the teeth in place weaken. Usually the periodontal ligaments keep the tooth firmly attached within the bone of the jaw, ensuring your pet can chew without the tooth budging. As the ligaments holding the tooth in place are lost due to periodontal disease, the tooth becomes loose and painful.
- Dental disease causes kidney disease
The connection between dental disease and kidney problems has been well established in humans. Similar to the liver, the kidneys filter the blood and if there is bacteria in the blood stream from dental disease, it can lodge in the kidneys and cause a kidney infection or damage to those delicate kidney cells.
- Dental disease is painful
Pets can have awful teeth, but they have absolutely no way to communicate with you that they are uncomfortable. They will continue to eat despite what is going on inside that mouth.
Luckily, there is some good news too… Dental disease is easy to treat and even pets with significant problems will have a new lease on life once their mouth is healthy again. That smelly breath will also improve!
If your pet has early stage dental disease, there are 3 easy ways to keep their teeth healthy: