Did You Know . . .
Many pet owners dismiss their pets’ bad breath as simply “normal” or something to be ignored. However, bad breath is a hallmark of periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. If you notice that your pet’s mouth has an odor and/or you observe discolored teeth, he or she may have developed some degree of periodontal disease. What starts as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) can quickly lead to permanent loss of gum tissue, damage to ligaments and loose or missing teeth. Periodontal disease can cause bacteria from the mouth to enter the pet’s bloodstream and circulate through the heart, liver and kidneys.
Banfield’s Animal Hospitals internal research team found this year that 68 percent of cats and 78 percent of dogs three and older show signs of periodontal disease. Sadly, according to the team’s data, less than half of pets diagnosed with periodontal disease receive dental cleanings. In all breeds — particularly small breeds — both professional dental cleanings and at-home care are equally essential to oral health.
At-home care can include the use of water additives, tooth brushing with specially-formulated toothpaste for pets, dental chew toys, kibble designed to clear and prevent the build-up of plaque and paying special attention to any changes your pet exhibits. As a pet owner, you should examine your pet’s mouth at least once a week to look for signs of swollen or bleeding gums (gingivitis), brown buildup on teeth (plaque/tartar) and abnormal lumps, bumps or swellings. Be sure to examine the back teeth (molars) by lifting the lip to expose the outside surfaces of the teeth. Also, observe the color of your pet’s gums. The gums should be shiny and pink – not white or dark red.
If you notice any usual signs or symptoms or changes in your pet’s mouth, consult your veterinarian to schedule an exam. He or she will examine your pet, inform you of any problem areas and make treatment recommendations. You might need to schedule a professional dental cleaning, according to your veterinarian’s recommendations for your pet’s particular breed and condition.
1 – Infection in Heart Valves
Dr. Primm: “Mouth bacteria can travel and settle on the heart valves. Bacterial endocarditis (infection of the interior of the heart) is a problem of its own and can also permanently damage cardiac tissue and lead to heart disease and even heart failure.”
2 – Liver Abscesses
Dr. Primm: “It is the job of the liver to filter things, so when bacteria in the mouth is swallowed, infection can work its way to the liver fairly easily. Treatment is long and arduous. It’s also expensive and involves long-term treatment. This can be fatal.”
3 – Sepsis
Dr. Primm: “Mouth bacteria can get into the blood stream and cause a sepsis (systemic infection that goes everywhere that the blood does–outside of the blood brain barrier). Septic pets can survive but it’s a struggle and they will die if not aggressively treated.”
4 – Poor Appetite
Dr. Petryk: “Bad teeth can be incredibly painful and lead to a decrease in appetite Older, thin pets are at a significant risk for additional weight loss and deterioration, which can lead to organ failure. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether organ failure is due to bad teeth or originates from something else.”
5 – Osteomyelitis
Dr. Petryk: “Severe dental disease can lead to bone infections and a broken jaw. Bone infection (osteomyelitis) is not only painful, but it can also lead to the life threatening complication of a broken maxilla or mandible that might not heal. This is especially true in small dogs, who are most prone to dental disease. The bone under the teeth is susceptible to infection and becoming brittle. When this bone breaks, it is very hard for it to heal AND it is very difficult for veterinarians to fix some of these fractures.”
Author / Cindy Geers
Classy Critters Inc
Reprinted In Part From petfinder.com