Research Yields New Insights Into Bacteria Associated With Oral Health In Dogs

Landmark studies discover critical differences between dog and human plaque and explain why dogs are more prone to gum disease than tooth decay
May 21, 2014 12:00 PM ET
Campaign: Mars Petcare
Research Yields New Insights Into Bacteria Associated With Oral Health In Dogs

Originally published on April 28, 2014

London, UK, May 21, 2014 /3BL Media/ - 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 this month. 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 characterize 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 emphasize 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.”

About the studies:
WALTHAM® conducted two studies on the landscape of bacteria in dog plaque and presented the findings to the British Veterinary Dental Association on April 2, 2014:

The Canine Oral Microbiome: In an initial study, 51 dogs representing 25 breeds and ranging from three to eight years of age were recruited from within the UK. It provided an index and family tree comprehensively mapping the bacterial species in dog plaque. Of the 353 bacterial types found, 80 percent were previously undocumented and only 16.4 percent were shared between humans and dogs. For reference information and to view the study findings published in PLoS ONE, please click here.

A Cross-Sectional Survey of Bacterial Species in Plaque: In a second study, subgingival plaque samples were collected from 223 dogs with healthy gingiva, gingivitis and mild periodontitis. Of the 274 different bacterial species identified in these there were no cariogenic Streptococcus spp., the bacteria that can cause caries. There were some similarities between the bacteria species in healthy and disease associated plaque for humans and dogs but also major differences.

For reference information and to view the study findings published in PLoS ONE, please click here.

About the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition:
Celebrating 50 years of innovative science, the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition serves as a leading scientific authority in advancing the frontiers of research into the nutrition and health of companion animals. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned state-of-the-art science institute for Mars, Incorporated generates knowledge that enables the development of innovative products that meet pets’ needs in a practical way. Since the publication of its first original research in 1963, WALTHAM® has pioneered many important breakthroughs in the field of pet nutrition and human-animal interaction, resulting in more than 1,700 publications, including over 600 peer-review scientific papers. Today, WALTHAM® continues to collaborate with the world’s foremost scientific institutes, driving Mars' Petcare vision to create a better world for pets and providing the science and expertise that underpins leading Mars brands such as WHISKAS®, PEDIGREE®, NUTRO®, TRILL®, CESAR®, SHEBA®, KITEKAT®, DREAMIES™, AQUARIAN®, WINERGY®, BANFIELD® Pet Hospital and the ROYAL CANIN brand

About Mars, Incorporated:
In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen and established Mars’ first roots as a confectionery company. In the 1920s, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar. In 1932, Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of building a business based on the objective of creating a “mutuality of benefits for all stakeholders” — this objective serves as the foundation of Mars, Incorporated today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and more than 72,000 Associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.

Mars brands include: Petcare – PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, BANFIELD Pet Hospital®, NUTRO®, SHEBA®, DREAMIES® and CESAR®; Chocolate – M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®; Wrigley – DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT® and 5™ chewing gums, SKITTLES® and STARBURST® candies, and ALTOIDS® AND LIFESAVERS® mints. Food – UNCLE BEN’S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® and ROYCO®; Drinks – ALTERRA ® Coffee Roasterscoffee, THE BRIGHT TEA CO.® tea, DOVE®/GALAXY® Hot Chocolate, and FLAVIA® brewer; Symbioscience – COCOAVIA®, WISDOM PANEL® and SERAMIS®.

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