Tests for Animals

Periodontal Disease...The Silent Killer


If only dogs and cats could brush their teeth and floss. Unfortunately they can't. And this is where all the problems start.


Periodontal disease is the No.1 diagnosed medical problem in small animals and the most common disorder affecting dogs and cats worldwide. If left untreated, periodontal disease can quite simply be considered the “silent killer,” since periodontal diseases have been associated with other systemic diseases like: Cardiovascular, Kidney, Liver, Respiratory Infection, Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

So what is this disease? Oral bacteria exist in all parts of the mouth. If some of the more dangerous ones are allowed to persist they will lead to gingivitis, a reversible disease, characterized by irritated gums, swelling, redness and bleeding when brushing or flossing.

Periodontitis, a more serious irreversible disease, affects the thin fibers holding the tooth to the bone. If these thin strands are lost, the surrounding bone support decreases, leading to unwanted tooth movement and possible tooth loss. If left untreated these dangerous oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream, leading to possible life threatening systemic diseases for your patient.

Three Factors Determine Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats:

1) Number and pathogenicity of bacteria present in the animal’s mouth
2) Genetics (breed)
3) Environment, Age, Size

Signs of Periodontal Disease:

- Bad, stale breath: Most common sign
- Yellow and brown tartar buildup
- Bleeding or red, swollen gums
- Difficulty chewing
- Change in eating habits
- Avoidance of chew toys, or cold water
- Pawing at the mouth
- Tartar & plaque buildup
- Pus or drainage

Why Cleaning Isn’t Enough

While a professional dental cleaning is a good thing, this cleaning alone is insufficient for control of serious periodontal disease. Even with annual cleanings the majority of dogs and cats are infected at least 50 weeks a year: Even after a professional tooth cleaning:

- Serious oral bacteria can re-colonize in seconds
- Mature Plaque can appear in 24 hrs with rapid growth in 4 days
- Gingivitis can reappear within 1-3 wks without constant cleaning.

Therefore, periodontal disease management requires a combination of:

Veterinary care
- Conventional prophylaxis – Scaling and Root Planing
- Antibiotics therapy -  local/systemic
- Surgical therapy

Home care
- Tooth brushing
- Antiseptic rinses
- Zinc salts & barrier sealants

- Formulated diets
- Rawhide chews
- Tartar control treats

New study links periodontitis and kidney disease in dogs


A new study by researchers in India concludes that there is an association between periodontal disease and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in dogs.


In their recent study “Association of periodontitis and chronic kidney disease in dogs” which appeared in the Veterinary World journal, authors S. U. Nabi (Division of Veterinary Medicine, Indian Veterinary Research Institute), A. R Wani (Department of Veterinary Pharmacology And Toxicology, College of Veterinary Science, Assam Agricultural University) , O. S. Shah (Department of Veterinary Medicine, SKUAST-K,) and S. Dey (Division of Veterinary Medicine, Indian Veterinary Research Institute) conclude that there is a “causative association between periodontal infection, generalized inflammation and important systemic diseases like chronic kidney disease” and hypothesize that “targeted prophylaxis and careful treatment of oral diseases can prevent the progression of renal failure.