Written by Crystal Sale, Animal House Chiropractic
February is the month of the heart, but did you know that dental health has a huge impact on overall health, including that of the heart? Most people know that oral health starts with proper maintenance (i.e. brushing your teeth) and nutrition (i.e. avoiding foods and drinks with a high amount of sugar); however, we are only beginning to realize the impact that your teeth have on the rest of your body’s health.
A recent study by Dr. Larry Glickman at Purdue found a “clear statistical link between gum disease and heart disease in dogs.” An even stronger correlation was found between periodontal disease and endocarditis, inflammation of the heart valves. Considering that approximately 75% of family dogs have irreversible gum disease by middle age, this is a significant finding.
Improper oral care leads to the growth of bacteria on the bone and gums of the mouth. As plaque mineralizes into tartar, the tooth is cut off from oxygen allowing a different type of bacteria to grow. These bacteria secrete toxins into the surrounding tissues which are then absorbed into the bloodstream and filtered throughout the body in the liver, kidneys, heart, and brain. Not only is your pet susceptible to tooth and bone loss, but the infection of these organs can lead to permanent internal damage.
Look for signs of periodontal disease in your pet:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Loss of appetite
- Dropping food while eating
- Loose teeth
In serious cases, heart conditions may present in the following symptoms:
- Reluctance to play / exercise
- Difficulty breathing
- Collapsing or fainting
If your pet presents with any of these symptoms, you should consult with your veterinarian.
Nutrition is the key to proper oral health. Your pet was designed by nature to consume a raw diet. This is the best method for overall health. Adding high quality dental chews to their diet will also help with plaque removal. Daily tooth brushing is also recommended. However, a study in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry found that brushing every other day was not effective in maintaining healthy gums. If you plan to brush your pet’s teeth, it must be done daily or in combination with dental chews in order to be effective.
Keep your pet living longer and stronger by maintaining good dental health!
For more information: Mercola, PetMD, ASPCA