As we come to the end of our five-part dental series and the end of National Pet Dental Month, I thought we would share two cases we had where chronic and severe periodontal disease resulted in life-threatening diseases. Chronic and severe periodontal disease when left untreated not only does damage to a pet’s mouth but can also result in damage to the liver, heart, and kidneys. The bacteria that are a direct result of periodontal disease eventually travel throughout the body and play havoc with a pet’s primary organs.
Case #1: A small, 8 year old dog had been previously diagnosed with a heart murmur. Due to his heart murmur, his parents were cautious of putting him under anesthesia and therefore chose not to pursue dental cleanings. Unfortunately, the dog also suffered from periodontal disease that could no longer go untreated. To ensure the patient was healthy enough to undergo an anesthetic procedure, an echocardiogram of his heart was performed. To my dismay, the echo showed bacteria plaques in his heart valves resulting in endocarditis. The bacteria stemmed from his periodontal disease. Thankfully, heavy antibiotics were able to clear the infection and I was able to perform the dental cleaning.
Case #2: A 10 year old dog was diagnosed with severe periodontal disease; heavy tartar buildup on his teeth and pus lined gums. During routine pre-surgery blood work renal abnormalities were discovered, which prompted a urine analysis. The patient was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. Upon further testing, we found out he actually had a resistant bacterial infection of his kidney. Again, bacteria from periodontal disease spread to a primary organ, in this case his kidneys. It took 4 months and expensive antibiotics to clear his infection before we could safely perform his much needed dental cleaning.