When it comes to periodontal disease, veterinarians are in a position to play a stronger role in preventing the most common disorder affecting cats and dogs worldwide, according to Banfield’s Applied Research and Knowledge (BARK) team. New findings show that 68 percent of cats and 78 percent of dogs age 3 and older have oral disease.
The BARK team conducts ongoing research in the field of veterinary medicine based on data from the more than 120,000 pet visits to Banfield hospitals each week. In conjunction with February’s National Pet Dental Health Month, the team has released the latest information to help veterinarians and pet owners maintain and improve the health of their pets’ teeth and gums.
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, DVM, MS, DACVIM, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Banfield, said more needs to be done to educate the public on the prevalence of the disease and how to take action to reduce the damage it causes, starting in veterinary practices. Veterinary professionals, he said, can do better at educating clients on the importance of yearly dental cleanings and at-home care.
Such preventive measures are crucial, and it’s up to veterinarians to make a strong case for professional oral care, Dr. Klausner said. All breeds are at risk of developing periodontal disease, and according to the new research, the top canine breeds predisposed to the disorder include the Toy Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Pomeranian, Shetland Sheepdog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Papillion, Standard Poodle, Dachshund and Havanese.
In cats, the disease is most prevalent in Himalayan, Siamese and Persian breeds. The risks increase 20 percent each year of a pet’s life, according to BARK’s data.
“Although dental disease can occur rapidly at any age, risk factors for developing periodontal disease in dogs include increasing age, small breed size and neutering,” he said. “Periodontal disease has also been associated with changes in a pet’s kidneys, liver and cardiac functions — in short, unhealthy teeth can lead to an unhealthy pet.”
Veterinarians should not wait until the disease develops into a serious problem before making recommendations. At Banfield, preventive care is key to taking better care of animals, according to Dr. Karen Johnson, DVM, vice president and client advocate for Banfield.
Clients want to do what’s best for their pets’ overall health, the BARK team said, and if veterinarians employ an evidence-based perspective, they will comply.