Updated: Sep 7
Whether you own a cat or dog, making sure their mouth, teeth and gums stay healthy is one of the most important things you can do for their overall well-being. Letting periodontal disease get out of control can have ever increasing negative effects on your pet’s health, comfort and long-term quality of life - not to mention your wallet - as the disease progresses and the treatments get more costly.
In our experience, not many pet owners understand the long-term consequences of letting periodontal disease progress and get out of control. “It’s just bad breath, all pets have bad breath” is a refrain we hear often.
But it’s not just bad breath – it’s the onset of a debilitating and nasty disease, and the longer it is left untreated the worse it is for your pet and the more costly it is to manage and fix.
Untreated periodontal disease can lead to some horrific problems, causing them immense pain and suffering. But not enough people understand just how bad it can get for your pet.
So here are 6 effects of periodontal disease that you might not realise your pet could be exposed to:
1. Bad breath
Halitosis is the first and most obvious sign that your dog has periodontal disease caused by a build-up of gingivitis and tartar.
Now is the time to act, before the disease progresses too far. It is more comfortable for your pet, and cheaper for you, to act now before periodontal disease takes hold. At this stage it might be easily treated with regular teeth cleaning, chewables or water additives that help keep bacteria at bay.
2. Pain & discomfort while eating
As tartar begins to build and gingivitis takes hold your pet begins to experience discomfort, then pain, when eating – typically from harder foods which are generally better for their teeth.
The longer it goes untreated the more chance gingivitis will begin to cause long-term damage to your pets’ gums, tooth roots and underlying bone structures, and the pain will continue to increase. Despite your dog or (especially your) cat’s tendency to mask their discomfort, the weakening of the bone structures around the jawbone and roots of the teeth, left untreated, will continue to cause deterioration and pain.
3. Increased risk of heart disease
Left untreated, the “burden of inflammation” caused by the bacteria and germs in your pet’s gums and tooth roots begins to overwhelm their immune system and can begin causing long-term health issues.
The constant strain on the immune system has been shown to massively increase the incidence of heart disease (bacterial-endocarditis) in affected dogs, which, in turn, causes your pet to feel lethargic, lose appetite, and can cause difficulty in breathing.
Pets with heart disease have their quality of life dramatically reduced and the costs of successfully treating heart disease in pets are not small.
4. Increased risk of diabetes
Untreated periodontal disease can cause blood sugar levels to rise and lead to the onset of Type 2 Diabetes, which is both difficult to control and can cost you thousands in diabetic medicines and special diet supplements.
Dogs and cats that live with diabetes require insulin injections and regular monitoring, just like human diabetics. It can be exhausting for owners like you to keep on top of all the medications and tests required to maintain your pet’s quality of life.
5. Compromised immune system
As periodontal disease progresses, and with their body being constantly attacked by bacteria from the infections present in their mouths, your pet will become immune-compromised – leaving them prey to other diseases, infections, and germs they would normally easily overcome.
Simple sicknesses or infections from other areas can cause large problems, and their weakened immune systems make them more susceptible to complications during surgeries that may be required to treat newly arising problems.
6. Broken Jaw
At its worst, untreated periodontal disease can deteriorate the bone structure of your pets’ mouth to the point where, after years of pain and discomfort, their weakened jaw will break, causing immense pain and suffering for your pet.
This is a horrible thing to see happen, and only occurs after years of mouth, gum and jawbone deterioration going untreated, but unfortunately, we do see cases like this. It is a long, painful and expensive process to treat this, often with little chance of the poor pet making a full recovery.
The simple take-away message is this:
The longer periodontal disease is left untreated, the more painful it is for your pet, and the more it costs you to treat it when you need to.
The best way to combat periodontal disease is to prevent it, and we help you do that by offering free dental checks to all your pets. We want to encourage you to come in regularly to get your pet’s mouth checked and to know how, and when, to act early to make sure your pet avoids unnecessary pain.
Book in at any one of our 3 clinics for your free dental check, and we’ll help you keep periodontal disease under control, before it becomes a long-term, painful, and expensive problem.