What Can Happen if Pets Dental Problems are Left Untreated?

As pet owners, we often concentrate on our pet’s dietary requirements, grooming, and regular veterinary check-ups to keep them in the best possible health. However, pet dental health is often overlooked, which is crucial. Just like humans, pets can have dental issues that, if left untreated, can lead to significant health problems. 

These range from bad breath and discomfort to more severe conditions like periodontal disease, tooth abscesses, and eventual tooth loss. Leaving pets’ dental problems untreated can lead to various health issues and complications, affecting their overall well-being. Here are some potential consequences of untreated dental problems in pets:

1. Pain and Discomfort

Dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, or dental abscesses can cause significant pain and discomfort for pets. Untreated dental issues may result in chronic oral pain, making it difficult for pets to eat, chew, or groom themselves comfortably. A cat dentist can provide the necessary treatment to ensure your pet’s oral health is in its best condition. Pets may show signs of reluctance to eat, drooling, pawing at their mouths, or displaying behavioral changes due to the discomfort they are experiencing.

2. Tooth Loss and Structural Damage

Advanced dental disease can lead to tooth loss and structural damage to the teeth and supporting tissues. Untreated periodontal disease, characterized by inflammation of the gums and loss of periodontal ligament support, can cause teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. Missing teeth can impact a pet’s eating ability and alter bite alignment, leading to further oral health issues and discomfort.

3. Spread of Infection

Dental infections resulting from untreated dental problems can spread beyond the oral cavity, affecting other organs and systems in the body. Bacteria from infected teeth and gums can enter the bloodstream and travel to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver, leading to systemic infections and complications. This can pose serious health risks and may require intensive medical treatment to address.

4. Chronic Inflammation and Systemic Health Issues

Chronic inflammation associated with untreated dental disease can affect a pet’s health. Inflammatory mediators released in response to oral infections can contribute to systemic inflammation, exacerbating underlying health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Untreated dental problems may also compromise the immune system’s ability to defend against infections and diseases, leading to a greater susceptibility to illness.

5. Oral Tumors and Oral Cancers

Chronic irritation and inflammation caused by untreated dental problems may increase the risk of developing oral tumors and oral cancers in pets. With facilities like a veterinary diagnostic lab, early detection and treatment of oral tumors are possible. These problems can arise from the mouth’s soft tissues or the jaw’s bony structures and may require surgical intervention or chemotherapy for treatment. Therefore, utilizing the services of these labs is crucial for improving affected pets’ prognosis and quality of life.

6. Poor Nutrition and Weight Loss

Pets with untreated dental problems may experience difficulty eating or chewing correctly, leading to reduced food intake and poor nutrition. Painful dental conditions may cause pets to avoid eating hard kibble or abrasive foods, resulting in weight loss and nutritional deficiencies over time. Inadequate nutrition can weaken the immune system, impair healing, and exacerbate existing health issues, compromising the pet’s overall health and well-being.

7. Behavioral Changes

Pets experiencing chronic pain and discomfort from untreated dental problems may exhibit changes in behavior and temperament. They may become irritable, withdrawn, or aggressive due to discomfort, affecting their interactions with family members and other pets. Behavioral changes associated with dental pain may include reluctance to play, decreased activity levels, and changes in grooming habits, signaling the need for veterinary evaluation and treatment.

8. Halitosis (Bad Breath)

Dental issues such as plaque and tartar buildup, gingivitis, and tooth decay can contribute to halitosis, or bad breath, in pets. Persistent bad breath often indicates underlying dental problems and oral infections. If left untreated, the foul odor caused by oral bacteria can become chronic and complex to manage, affecting the pet’s quality of life and causing discomfort for both the pet and its owners.

9. Abscesses and Fistulas

Untreated dental infections, particularly those involving the roots of the teeth, can progress to form abscesses or fistulas in the oral cavity. Abscesses are pus pockets that develop due to bacterial infection, causing swelling, pain, and inflammation in the affected area. In severe cases, abscesses may rupture and form fistulas, abnormal passages that allow pus to drain from the infected site. Abscesses and fistulas require veterinary intervention, including drainage and antibiotic therapy, to resolve the infection and promote healing.

10. Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss

Pets with untreated dental problems may experience a decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss due to pain, discomfort, and difficulty eating. Dental pain can make it challenging for pets to chew and swallow food properly, leading to a reluctance to eat or avoid certain types of food. As a result, pets may consume fewer calories and nutrients, leading to weight loss, muscle wasting, and overall decline in body condition. Addressing dental issues promptly, an emergency vet near me in Oakland, CA, can help restore the pet’s appetite and prevent further weight loss or malnutrition.

Wrapping Up

A pet’s dental health should never be taken lightly or neglected. Poor dental hygiene can significantly diminish a pet’s quality of life, resulting in discomfort, pain, and potentially severe health conditions. Unaddressed dental issues affect an animal’s mouth and can influence its overall health, underscoring the importance of regular dental checks and cleaning. As caring pet owners, we are responsible for providing comprehensive care, including dental upkeep.