Periodontal Disease: The Irreversible Condition Most Dogs Get by Age 3

Pet Dental CarePfizer Animal Health is discontinuing its veterinary periodontal disease vaccine for dogs, called the Porphyromonas-Denticanis-Gulae-Salivosa Bacterin.

The vaccine was conditionally approved for use in the U.S. in 2006, and underwent a four-year study to determine if it produced a long-term reduction in the progression of gum disease in dogs.

Per dvm360:

"The study further confirmed the safety of the vaccine but did not demonstrate a long-term reduction in the progression of periodontal disease when comparing vaccinated dogs and unvaccinated dogs," Pfizer reports. "Based on this important study, Pfizer Animal Health will no longer produce the vaccine after April 6."

According to a Pfizer communication to pet owners, before receiving conditional licensing in 2006 the vaccine was "... extensively tested for safety, and based on initial studies, was shown to have a reasonable expectation of being efficacious."

Dr. Becker's Comments:

Porphyromonas-Denticanis-Gulae-Salivosa Bacterin.

Wow! That's quite an impressive name for a totally useless vaccine.

Apparently when the vaccine was licensed in 2006 it was considered both safe and effective. Now, more than four years later, it is deemed ineffective. I'm left to wonder how safe it truly is, despite Pfizer's claims.

Interestingly, I haven't been able to locate the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for this product, even though until supplies run out, it is still in use. So I can neither definitively confirm nor deny independent information I've uncovered that the vaccine contains formaldehyde.

What the Vaccine Was Supposed to Do

Pfizer's canine periodontal vaccine was designed to protect against the anaerobic bacteria that causes destruction of bone in advanced cases of gum disease.

Out of the hundreds of bone-eating bacteria present in periodontal disease, there are three types found in the majority of dogs with the condition:

  • Porphyromonas denticanis
  • Porphyromonas salivosa
  • Porphyromonas gulae

Pfizer's vaccine was supposed to help reduce bone loss in severe cases of periodontal disease. It does not prevent gum disease, nor was it intended as a substitute for home care or professional cleaning by a veterinarian.

Recommended dosage of the vaccine at first immunization was two injections three weeks apart, followed by yearly re-vaccination.

The following is the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine position on the Pfizer vaccine:

The canine Porphyromonas vaccine is an inactivated Porphyromonas denticanis, P. gulae and P. salivosa bacterin. It has been marketed 'as an adjunct to professional dental cleaning, periodontal therapy, and owner-administrated dental care routines' to prevent periodontitis, as demonstrated by a reduction in bone changes (bone loss/sclerosis) in mice used as an experimental model. The manufacturer recommends that primary vaccination consist of 2 doses given subcutaneously 3 weeks apart.

The product license is currently conditional as efficacy and potency have not been demonstrated in dogs. Based on existing evidence, the UC Davis VMTH does not currently recommend routine vaccination of dogs for periodontal disease with this vaccine, and the vaccine is not stocked by our pharmacy.

The Scourge of Over-vaccination

Vaccinations are big business for both the manufacturers of the vaccines and the vet offices that promote annual re-vaccinations. In fact, one conservative estimate is that over half of dog vet visits and 75 percent of cat vet visits are for re-vaccinations.

Fortunately, more pet owners are becoming aware of the dangers of over-vaccinating, and an increasing number of pet health experts are urging caution when it comes to yearly immunizations.

Under the circumstances, it's wise to be very careful about subjecting your four-legged family members to any new, 'groundbreaking' veterinary vaccines – especially one that has received only conditional licensing and is still being studied.

The purpose of a vaccine is to stimulate your pet's immune system to respond to a particular pathogen. Over-vaccination can lead to over-stimulation of the immune system, which can lead to a whole host of health problems. A balanced immune system, not one that is either non-responsive or over-reactive, is what your pet needs for optimum health.

There is concern among many veterinary professionals that vaccination is a risk factor for serious autoimmune diseases such as the potentially fatal canine disorder known as autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA).

In addition, delayed vaccine reactions have been shown to cause thyroid disease, allergies, arthritis, tumors and seizures in both cats and dogs. There is also evidence of a connection between feline immunizations and incidents of vaccine-induced sarcomas (a type of cancerous tumor).

Helping Your Dog Avoid Periodontal Disease

Unfortunately, the vast majority of canine companions have gum disease by the time they are three years of age.

Plaque that remains on your dog's teeth hardens into tartar, which irritates the gums. The gums become inflamed, a condition known as gingivitis. If the tartar isn't removed, it builds up under the gums, and eventually the gums pull away from the teeth. This separation creates pockets in the gum tissue, which attract even more bacteria.

This is the irreversible condition known as periodontal disease – a painful situation for your pup that often results in infection, abscesses, loose teeth and bone disintegration. There is also a link between gum disease and heart disease in both humans and dogs.

There are several factors that determine how fast the process takes place in your dog's mouth, including her age, health status, diet, breed, genetics, and the dental care she receives from you and her vet.

Steps you can take to help your dog avoid dental disease include:

  • Feeding a species appropriate, preferably raw diet. When your dog chews on raw, sinewy meat or gnaws a raw, meaty bone, it provides good teeth cleaning action.
  • Brushing your dog's teeth, preferably every day. If every day is too tall an order, commit to do it several times a week.
  • Performing routine mouth inspections to check for loose teeth or any unusual lumps or bumps anywhere inside the mouth.
  • Scheduling regular veterinary oral exams and cleanings, if necessary.
  • Offering a fully digestible, high quality dental dog chew like Mercola Healthy Pets Dog Dental Bones or the Mercola Gentle Dental Bone to help control plaque and tartar on your pet's teeth.

Your pet, whether canine or feline, needs your help to keep her mouth in good shape. It's a responsibility we take on as guardians of our pets, just like feeding a nutritious diet, exercise, and wellness checkups.