Conventional medicine, both human and veterinary, is recognizing more and more the importance of seeing the health of the body as an interconnected whole. There is perhaps no more important place to consider this than the mouth. Current conventional medicine has now made a solid connection between those with periodontal disease and those with heart disease. The same organism (a spirochete) that is responsible for periodontal disease is the same one causing heart disease in many cases!
We understand that digestion begins in the mouth. If we think of the mouth as the origin of digestion, we recognize that, just like in the gut, maintaining a habitat for the right type of organism is critical. We now have available a wide range of probiotics to ‘reboot’ the gut microfauna and the best way to assure proper microfauna in the mouth is to feed your critter raw meat and cooked vegetables.
I noticed over a decade ago that my dogs who ate a raw diet could lick the wounds on their pads caused by cuts from oyster shells (a notoriously ‘dirty’ wound) and heal quickly. My kibble-eating dogs prior to that always required a cone or some other means of keeping themselves from cleaning their own wounds. It seemed very odd to me that wild dogs and cats cleaned wounds by licking and were healed, yet my dogs had to be protected from their own saliva! In my herbal critter practice it is quite satisfying to see this transformation take place and watch dogs and cats recapture their ability to speed their own healing just from changing the diet and supporting with herbs.
Getting your critters teeth checked regularly by your vet and watching for signs of mouth issues is so very important to their wellbeing! I have seen so many times cats or dogs who are elders return to youthful vitality almost overnight when the mouth infection and pain is resolved by removing teeth. Perhaps with our increasing devotion as a society (well a lot of us anyway) to our furry families, we will begin to see vets offering root canals as an option instead of removal of teeth.
Here are some things to watch for:
- Separated coat
This is often first sign of any problem, it tells us that the critter is not grooming normally because they are not feeling well. In the case of mouth issues, this general malaise is compounded by the problem of mouth pain.
- Returning to the feeding dish often yet only eating a few bites at a time. This is a serious sign of mouth pain, get your critter checked!
- Weight loss
- Reacting after eating with signs like excessive chop licking.
- Painful places around the mouth and sinuses when scratched
- Digestive upset due to swallowing bacteria from the infection.
- Discoloration of teeth and/or broken teeth. Fortunately many broken teeth can be sealed just like for humans.
Editors note: If you notice these or any other symptoms of dental distress, take your animal to your vet as soon as possible.