As your pet ages, it’s important to pay attention to the potential for dental disease — such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tartar buildup — which can affect their overall health. Neglecting oral hygiene in our senior pets impacts not only the health of their mouths but also other organ systems like the heart, kidney, and lungs. Additionally, since seniors may experience changes in eating habits or activity levels which could lead to jawbone deterioration or erosion of teeth enamel; therefore routine examinations are essential for all aging animals. In this post we will discuss how dental diseases can impact your pet’s well-being and explore what steps they need taken to ensure proper oral care throughout their life stages.

#1: Your senior pet’s organs can become diseased

When a pet develops dental disease, the significant bacterial load within the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. The organs most affected by oral bacteria are the heart, kidneys, and liver. The bacteria found in the mouths of pets with dental disease are the same bacteria associated with endocarditis and valvular disease. In fact, the presence of dental disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease in dogs. Additionally, the liver and kidneys can become inflamed and infected by filtering blood filled with traveling oral bacteria, which can cause fever, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

#2: Your senior pet may find it difficult to eat

Senior pets often have decreased appetites because of concurrent diseases that make eating difficult or unappealing. Nausea from chronic renal failure or pain medication, gastrointestinal upset from irritable bowel disease (IBD) or intestinal lymphoma, and stress from cognitive dysfunction may cause your senior pet to lose their appetite. Pairing these issues with painful dental disease can cause your pet’s appetite to decline further. 

#3: Your senior pet may not take their medication

Gingivitis, tooth-root abscesses, loose teeth, fractured teeth, and a weakened jawbone caused by pet dental disease can make your senior pet’s mouth extremely painful. When your pet’s mouth hurts, they may refuse to eat, which can make it difficult to administer oral medication. If you need to give your pet oral medication, either through a syringe or by “pilling” them, it can be impossible to hold their muzzle and open their mouth enough to safely do so when they’re in pain. Without their daily medication, your senior pet’s health can suffer as their chronic disease progresses.

Keep a close eye on your senior pet’s oral healthGive us a call to schedule an oral exam for your furry pal.