Pet Diseases Associated With Poor Dental Care

dog with caries

Did you know that good dental health could extend the life of your furriest family members? Some studies show that pets with regular dental care could live an average of two years longer than those animals whose owners do not make the effort to take care of their pet’s teeth. The reason for this is that, just like humans, there is a distinct link between poor dental health and the development of a range of chronic and sometimes very serious health conditions.

Why does Poor Dental Care compromise the Health of your Pet?

Many owners struggle to make the correlation between the health of their pet’s teeth and the health and wellbeing of their body. However, the main reason how poor dental hygiene affects the general health of an animal is through the spread of bacteria. It is the bacteria on your pet’s teeth that cause the development of plaque, and eventually tartar. When this penetrates below your pet’s gum line, it causes a condition called periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease in Pets

Periodontal disease is a condition that can affect humans as well as animals. However, in domestic cats and dogs it is the single most common dental problem and affects the vast majority of them to some degree before they reach three years of age. It is also irreversible, meaning that you should do everything you can to prevent it from occurring. In the early stages, the symptoms of periodontal disease are easy to ignore. However, as they progress they can have a much more significant effect, causing severe pain and even tooth loss.

The Wider Effect of Periodontal Disease

Unfortunately, the effects of periodontal disease don’t stop there. Once the infection gets into the gums, the bacteria can easily filter into the bloodstream where they can travel around to the major organs in the body including the liver, kidneys and heart. When this happens, it puts your pet at risk of developing health problems that extend beyond the mouth.

Common Dental Health Problems Experienced by Pets with Poor Oral Hygiene

Some of the oral health problems that your pet may experience as a result of bad teeth could include:

- Caries. This refers to decalcification of the tooth enamel that leads to cavities.

- Feline odontoclastic resorption lesions. These are lesions that destroy healthy oral tissue and can cause damage to teeth.

- Gingivitis – the earliest stage of periodontal disease.

- Gingivostomatitis. Swelling of the oral tissues affecting cats.

- Oral cancers

- Periodontitis. The most prevalent dental health condition affecting pets.

- Plaque

- Pyorrhea. This refers to inflammation in the gums and tooth sockets which can create pus around the tooth, and even result in tooth loss.

- Tartar – which is impossible to remove without professional assistance.

Common General Health Problems Experienced by Pets with Poor Oral Hygiene

Once dental disease progresses beyond moderate levels, it is possible for it to have an effect on your pet’s wider health and wellbeing. Some of the common general health problems that may occur as a result of your pet having poor oral hygiene include:

- Blood infections (sepsis)

- Bone infections (osteomyelitis)

- Diabetes mellitus

- Heart disease

- Heart valve infections

- High blood pressure

- Kidney problems

- Liver abscesses

- Poor appetite – this could lead to your pet losing weight and not getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy

- Some cancers


If you are concerned that your pet has a health problem associated with poor dental care, contact us and make an appointment with our veterinarian to get your furbaby checked over and to start getting her the help she needs