February 23, 2020 Photos by: MRAORAOR/Shutterstock
You don’t just keep your dog’s teeth to keep them pearly white. Here are five serious illnesses caused by canine dental disease.
The thought of brushing your dog’s teeth may seem a bit ridiculous, but the truth is that oral hygiene is just as important for your dog as it is for you. The scary fact is that most dogs will exhibit some degree of dental disease by the time they are three years old. More than just causing bad breath or plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth, dental disease can also cause some serious illnesses. Keep reading to learn more.
- Heart Valve Infections
You may not think of your dog’s dental health being related to his heart health, but there is a connection. When bacteria make their way into your dog’s bloodstream through the mouth, they can settle in the heart valves and cause all kinds of problems. Heart valve infections, bacterial endocarditis, and damage to the cardiac tissue are all real and dangerous possibilities.
- Blood Infections or Sepsis
As your dog’s dental disease worsens, he may develop an infection caused by bacteria that accumulate on the surface of his teeth and start to creep under the gums. Once the bacteria spreads under the gumline, it can make its way into the bloodstream, causing a blood infection known as sepsis. Sepsis is a systemic infection that can travel anywhere in the body except to the brain. If not treated promptly and aggressively, sepsis can be fatal.
- Liver Abscesses and Infections
The liver’s job is to filter dangerous substances out of your dog’s blood. If your dog develops a blood infection caused by dental disease, the infection could travel to his liver where it has the potential to do a lot of damage. Liver infections are difficult to treat, and they can also be expensive. The treatment process is very long, and even with treatment a liver infection can be fatal.
- Bone Infection or Osteomyelitis
As plaque and tartar accumulates on the surface of your dog’s teeth, it will eventually travel under the gum and might cause a periodontal pocket to form. This opens your dog up to the risk of infection which, if left untreated, can travel deeper into the bone. A severe infection can actually damage the bones in your dog’s jaw, causing a painful condition known as osteomyelitis. In addition to being painful, bone osteomyelitis can lead to a broken maxilla or mandible which could become life-threatening.
If your dog’s teeth are causing him a lot of pain due to dental disease, he may not have much of a desire to eat. When your dog stops eating, his body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to be healthy and he may become malnourished. Significant weight loss and malnutrition can become very dangerous, contributing to organ failure in some cases.
Your dog’s dental health is not something you should overlook. If you’re concerned about your dog’s teeth and gums, talk to your veterinarian about a professional cleaning and then start adopting healthy habits like brushing your dog’s teeth every day.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.