5 Scary Consequences of Ignoring Your Pet’s Dental Health

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and it’s a great time to think about getting your dog’s or cat’s teeth checked and cleaned.

While keeping your pet’s teeth in good condition can be frustrating – especially if your pet doesn’t take well to regular brushing – it’s an essential part of their overall health and well-being.

Here are 5 scary consequences of ignoring your pet’s dental health for too long:

Dental Disease Spikes Your Pet’s Immune System

If your pet’s teeth are in bad shape and they develop dental disease, it can cause their immune system to go haywire. When this happens, they’re less likely to fight off infections and their health can deteriorate.

Plaque that’s left on the surface of your pet’s teeth can incite the immune system and provoke an inflammatory response. This response kills bacteria, as it should, but also destroys tissue.

The more severe your pet’s dental disease and the more inflammation present, the more likely it is for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel throughout your pet’s body.

If this happens, your pet can develop an infection or other disease that then impacts their health and can be risky or expensive to treat.

Increased Risk for Heart Disease

Your pet’s heart and liver are especially at risk of developing inflammation that’s caused by dental disease.

Because of this, the risk of a pet developing endocarditis (heart disease) is higher if they have dental disease than if they don’t. A study by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association showed that the risk is about six times higher in dogs with dental disease than in those without it.

Complicates Diabetes

Pets with diabetes often have a higher risk of developing dental disease, which then can cause the diabetes to become more difficult to control.

This cycle can quickly spiral out of control, with your pet’s diabetes causing their periodontal disease to get worse, which then causes the diabetes to get worse.

Diabetes makes your pet’s body unable to easily regulate their blood sugar levels, and increased inflammation and infection associated with periodontal disease makes this problem worse. If you have a pet that’s diabetic, then, it’s especially important to take care of their teeth.

Causes Pain

While you may sometimes be able to tell that your pet is in pain, often the pain associated with bad teeth is much more difficult to detect.

If your pet is hungry, they will do what’s necessary to be able to eat their food, even eating with a sore mouth. This can lead to your pet “inhaling” their food without chewing it, as they don’t want to put pressure on the teeth that hurt.

However, pets with dental disease also can drool, have a decreased appetite, or their mouth may appear swollen or bleed.

Whether or not your pet shows it, dental disease can be extremely painful and living with it can severely decrease their quality of life.

Broken Jaw

In some cases, poor oral hygiene can lead to a broken jaw for your pet. This is more likely if you own a smaller breed of dog.

The infections associated with dental disease can weaken the jaw, causing even the most minor of impacts to break the delicate bones.

Thankfully, while broken jaw is a potential complication of poor tooth health, it is a much more rare occurrence than the other complications of not taking care of your pet’s teeth.

Pet Dental Care in Frederick, MD

If you want to avoid all the scary complications that come with not taking care of your pet’s teeth, you need to get them seen for regular dental check-ups and cleaning. At Old Farm Veterinary Hospital, our experienced staff can help prevent, diagnose, and treat dental problems so your pet leads a healthy, happy life. Schedule your appointment today!