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What do heart disease, bad breath and bad teeth have in common in our pet dogs and cats?

Q: Can brushing teeth prevent heart disease in little dogs?

A: While not all heart diseases are preventable, you can certainly help those that will develop because of bad teeth. If your pet will accept the brush and you have the fortitude to brush every 2 to 3 days without fail, then you’ll give them fighting chance to avoid this. Bacterial burden in your pets mouth, when teeth become loose and really smelly, will cause seeding of bacteria to the heart valves and other organs. Over time, as the body fights the infection, the inflammation will warp the heart valves and cause turbulent blood flow. This is heard as a heart murmur or abnormal ‘swishing’ sound. The heart will have to work harder and will enlarge to compensate for this. When it can no longer stretch it fails and coughing and decrease in exercise is seen.

Tooth health needs to be strted as a puppy and kitten and throughout your pets life. Anything that can keep the bacteria down and the gums healthy will go a long way. There are dental pet foods, dental biscuits, antiseptics, gels and more. But nothing does the job like a good brushing. If your pets teeth have tarter staining and buildup then a cleaning is in order before it gets to gum disease. If your pet won’t let you lift the lips or you just want to know, find out from a professional who knows about pet teeth. That’s a vet.

Dr. Stacey

About the author

Dr. Stacey

Dr. Stacey Gastis Dr. Stacey was born and raised in Toronto and developed a real love for the outdoors in high school with the canoe club. He was very interested in wildlife in his early university studies. After graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1991 he moved to Comox BC in 1993 with his wife Dr. Whelan. The early days had Sunrise Vet as a mobile clinic and surgery with regular visits to the outlying islands, then a 14 year stay as a small animal clinic in Merville BC. In 2010 he relocated Sunrise Veterinary Clinic to Comox at it's current location on the corner of Guthrie Rd. and Shamrock Pl. in what was the old Coast Realty building. He continues to volunteer his medicine and surgery expertise at the MARS wild bird centre helping injured wild birds return to their homes after fracture repair. His interest in the area of compassionate dog and cat behaviour training lead him to begin puppy socialization classes (kindergarten) where he currently teaches new pet owners about a kinder way to understand dogs and cats. He teaches children in school visits about the care of their pets 'great and small' helping to broaden their understanding of our relationship to pets. He currently lives with his wife and co-owner of Sunrise Vet Dr.Tammi Whelan, their two boys, two Newfoundlands Joey and Clara, the kitty 'Professor' , horses and of course chickens in Comox.

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