Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats, what is it?

Periodontal disease is the most common infectious disease in pets. From the age of 2 years old, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats are affected. The prevalence increases with age and is higher in small animals.

What does it mean?

You’ve probably heard that term before, but you don’t know what it really meant. Periodontal disease refers to a group of inflammatory diseases caused by the bacteria contained in dental plaque. These diseases cause the destruction of the periodontium which is the set of tooth support tissues including the gingiva, the cementum, the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone.

How does it develop?

Periodontal disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque. It can be divided into two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum caused by plaque and is reversible. In other words, by eliminating the cause, the gum will regain good health. For periodontitis, this is a more advanced stage. In fact, the infection and inflammation are located deeper in the periodontium and cause a lot of irreversible damage that can lead to the loss of the tooth. The presence of bad bacteria in a periodontal pocket (space between the tooth and the gum) and the immune response of the animal (inflammation) contribute to the destruction of the periodontium.

Local risks

When there is severe periodontal disease, there may be several sequelae apart from the loss of the tooth.
Oral nasal fistula
Pathological fracture of the mandible
Loss of sight
Oral cancer
Chronic osteomyelitis

Systemic risks

Bacteria causing periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream via periodontal pockets and cause other problems throughout the body.
Liver diseases
Renal problems
Cardiovascular consequences
Respiratory disorders
And many others…

How to prevent it?

The prevention of periodontal disease is mainly based on a combination of veterinary monitoring and oral hygiene care given at home. Scaling done by a veterinarian helps prevent the destruction of the periodontium before it is too late. It is important to remember that the owner’s knowledge and commitment to hygiene care are very important to maintaining good oral health. Your veterinarian can direct you to the best products according to your pet’s condition.


Zambori C and al. Biofilm Implication in Oral Diseases of Dogs and Cats. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnologies, 2012, 45(2).
Roudebush P, Logan E, Hale FA. Evidence-based veterinary dentistry: a systematic review of homecare for prevention of periodontal disease in dogs and cats. J Vet Dent. 2005 Mar;22(1):6-15.
Albuquerque C and al. Canine periodontitis: the dog as an important model for periodontal studies. Vet J. 2012 Mar;191(3):299-305

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