5 Serious Illnesses Caused by Canine Dental Disease

Dental health is one of the most neglected issues in dogs. Yet, neglected teeth can quickly lead to canine dental disease other serious–and often fatal–diseases. Dr. Kathryn Primm, owner of Apple Brook Animal Hospital, and Dr. Denise Petryk, Director of Veterinary Services at Trupanion, shared with us some of the illnesses that can result from poor dental hygiene.

#1 – Heart Valve Infections

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.”

Image source: @MariposaVeterinaryWellness via Flickr
Image source: @MariposaVeterinaryWellness via Flickr



#2 – Liver Abscesses (Infections)

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 (Blood Infection)

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.”

Image source: @USArmyAfrica via Flickr
Image source: @USArmyAfrica via Flickr


#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.”

Image source: @AlanLevine via Flickr
Image source: @AlanLevine via Flickr


#5 – Osteomyelitis (Bone Infection)

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.”

Image source: @Jason via Flickr
Image source: @Jason via Flickr


What Can a Responsible Pet Parent Do?

So now that you’ve heard about these painful, life-threatening diseases, what’s a responsible pet owner to do to keep their furry family members healthy? The number one thing is to do ANYTHING you can to clean your dog’s teeth to prevent the possible onset of canine dental disease. Yearly cleanings on top of daily brushing is what the vet will recommend. Yet, many pet parents find it too difficult to brush their dogs’ teeth.

If you can’t manage to brush their chompers even once a week, offering your pet the right kind of dental treat will definitely help maintain your pup’s teeth between cleanings and lessen their chances of developing canine dental disease. If you’re like us and brushing your dog’s teeth is a trial if not impossible, then you’ll love the ease and the benefits of giving your dog Happy, Healthy™ Brushy Sticks Dental Dog Treats.


These dental chew sticks are not only downright healthy for your dog, but they’re also super tasty. Most dogs go absolutely nuts for them! The chews clean teeth and gums, freshen breath, and annihilate plaque and infection-causing bacteria in the mouth. Plus, each bag provides 7 meals to shelter dogs!

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