Objective—To test the hypothesis that increased severity of periodontal disease in dogs is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular-related events, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy, as well as markers of inflammation.
Design—Historical cohort observational study.
Sample Population—59,296 dogs with a history of periodontal disease (periodontal cohort), of which 23,043 had stage 1 disease, 20,732 had stage 2 disease, and 15,521 had stage 3 disease; and an age-matched comparison group of 59,296 dogs with no history of periodontal disease (nonperiodontal cohort).
Procedures—Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to estimate the risk of cardiovascular-related diagnoses and examination findings in dogs as a function of the stage of periodontal disease (1, 2, or 3 or no periodontal disease) over time while controlling for the effect of potential confounding factors.
Results—Significant associations were detected between the severity of periodontal disease and the subsequent risk of cardiovascular-related conditions, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy, but not between the severity of periodontal disease and the risk of a variety of other common noncardiovascular-related conditions.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The findings of this observational study, similar to epidemiologic studies in humans, suggested that periodontal disease was associated with cardiovascular-related conditions, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy. Chronic inflammation is probably an important mechanism connecting bacterial flora in the oral cavity of dogs with systemic disease. Canine health may be improved if veterinarians and pet owners place a higher priority on routine dental care.