Pet Dental Care: Treating Systemic Infections In Your Pet When The Origin Is Oral

Pets, just like people, can contract systemic infections. These infections occur as the result of an infection in one part of the body, and then the bacteria of that infection spread throughout (ergo, systemic, or system-wide). Not surprisingly, these infections can begin anywhere in the body, including the mouth. If your pet has a rotten tooth, an inflamed gumline, or pus oozing from a wound in his or her mouth, the infection can eventually spread throughout his/her body. Here is how your veterinarian will treat a systemic infection that started as an oral infection.

Addressing the Oral Infection First

After assessing your pet for symptoms and diagnosing a systemic infection (which usually is confirmed via a blood test), the vet will examine your pet's mouth more closely. If there is a tooth causing the infection, the vet may choose to pull it. If there is a wound that is oozing pus, the vet will clean it, possibly drain it with a needle, and then apply an oral antiseptic before prescribing an antibiotic in pill form. If the problem is a severe case of gingivitis or periodontal disease, you may be given an antiseptic toothpaste and a special pet toothbrush to use on your pet's gums until the vet confirms that the situation has improved enough to stop using the medicated toothpaste and return to regular pet toothpaste.

Addressing the Systemic Infection Second

Usually, in the process of treating the oral problem that caused the original infection, your vet will prescribe medicines that need to be swallowed by your pet. These same antibiotics will work their way through your pet's blood stream and body, killing many of the bacteria that came from the oral infection and caused the systemic infection. As these medications work to treat the oral infection, they also treat your pet's whole body for other infections. Rarely, if ever, will your pet need a different treatment, course of action or separate medication to treat the systemic infection. Along with the antibiotics, your vet may prescribe a medicine to reduce fever and increase your pet's appetite if he or she has not been eating, but that is the only other type of medication your pet may need.

Preventing Future Infections

As part of the ongoing treatment, your vet will prescribe and recommend some pet dental care practices and products. These will keep your pet's mouth healthy, thereby reducing any chance of another infection and reducing the possibility of another systemic infection. It is very important that you follow your vet's instructions and advice closely, especially if your pet is a senior animal or he/she has a compromised immune system (i.e., FIV).