Results demonstrating critical differences between dog and human plaque and explaining why dogs are more prone to gum disease than tooth decay were presented to the British Veterinary Dental Association (BVDA) in London, UK in April 2014.
Results from two landmark studies that shed light on the bacteria associated with oral health in dogs, were presented to the British Veterinary Dental Association (BVDA) in London, UK. The studies, conducted by the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition in conjunction with Professor Floyd Dewhirst from the renowned Forsyth Institute in Boston, USA, help to explain why tooth decay is rare in dogs, despite being prevalent in humans. The findings challenge the current practice of translating knowledge of human dental disease to dogs and will help to facilitate important discussions between veterinarians and pet owners about proper pet oral hygiene.
“Periodontal disease is one of the most widespread conditions in dogs, and this research represents an important step towards understanding how the disease develops,” said Dr Stephen Harris, Oral Health Research Manager at WALTHAM, part of Mars Petcare, who presented the findings.
For the first time, researchers were able to landscape the vast majority of bacterial species in dog plaque, discovering that most were previously undocumented. The scale of the studies enabled researchers to thoroughly characterise the dog bacteria, make comparisons to similar studies on human bacteria and determine which bacteria are the most prevalent in health and periodontal, or gum, disease. The findings show that dogs lack the bacteria that cause dental caries, or tooth decay, and that contrary to popular belief, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease are not the same in dogs and humans. While there are a few similarities, there are also many differences. These comparisons will help in determining which species of bacteria are critical for the development of periodontal disease in dogs and possibly even humans.
“These insights emphasise the need for dog oral care products to be designed and tested using robust science in dogs, rather than relying solely on data from human studies” explained Dr Harris. “It is important that pet owners help maintain their dogs’ optimal health with regular veterinary check-ups and oral hygiene products, such as dental chews that meet these criteria. Veterinarians have an important role to play in helping to inform pet owners about good practices and recommending beneficial pet products to maintain proper dog oral hygiene.”
This research is available in the open-access journal PLoS One: