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Periodontal disease in dogs is a big problem, with more than 80% of dogs suffering from the disease by the time they turn three—largely because their mouths contain a lot of alkaline which encourages the formation of plaque, and most dogs’ dental care routines could do with some extra attention.
Most dog owners know that periodontal disease can cause bad breath and inflamed gums, but what many dog owners don’t realise is that periodontal disease can have a range of more serious impacts on your dog’s overall health.
How periodontal disease can affect your dog’s health
The irritation periodontal disease can cause to gums and oral tissue can be extremely painful for your pooch, but you may not even know it! While a decrease in appetite or difficulty eating are tell-tale signs your pooch may be suffering, animals instinctively hide pain to avoid appearing weak to predators, making it hard to know how they’re feeling.
Plaque is essentially bad bacteria, which when noticed by the body, triggers an immune-response to attack the foreign invaders—during this process, enzymes are released into the mouth which cause the gum tissue to break down and recede (known as gingival recession). If the tooth roots become exposed, bacteria can enter the endodontic system and infect other healthy roots.
Bone and tooth loss
When left untreated, periodontal disease can severely affect roots leading to tooth loss, as well as causing deeper bone structures to become infected and die (become necrotic). Once bone has become necrotic (known as chronic osteomyelitis), antibiotics will no longer work making the condition irreversible.
Periodontal disease can also significantly weaken bone to the point that even a light amount of pressure could fracture a dogs jaw. Jaw fractures most commonly occur on the mandible (the bottom jaw) and are significantly more prevalent among smaller dog breeds.
Severe cases of periodontal disease can also erode the bone separating the nasal and oral cavities. More common among older small breed dogs, oral-nasal fistulas can cause symptoms including chronic sneezing, nasal discharge, bad breath or apathy toward food.
Organ disease and damage
Periodontal disease can also impact other organs in the body—when bacteria from gum infections gains access to the tooth’s root structure, the toxins can enter into the dog’s blood stream and affect the kidneys, liver, heart and brain, causing permanent or even fatal organ damage.
The close proximity of the molars in the back of dogs’ mouths to the periorbital tissue of the eye means that in severe cases of periodontal disease where infection is allowed to spread, it could even lead to blindness.
Preventing periodontal disease in dogs
Prevention is always better than a cure, and there are plenty of things you can do to protect your pooch from periodontal disease. Read our Complete Guide to Dog Dental Care for some useful tips to prevent periodontal disease in dogs.
At Petzyo, we’re passionate about giving our furry friends the same care and attention we give ourselves—that’s why our products provide complete nutrition using all-natural ingredients, while leaving all the bad stuff out.