Researchers Hope to Lick Canine Gum Disease

Canine Health Foundation grants will help determine whether a vaccine and an antibiotic gel therapy can reduce periodontal disease in dogs.

Brushing a dog’s teeth and gums is just one way a pet owner can improve the animal’s oral health.

Cioli/I-5 Studio

The American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation has awarded more than $25,000 for studies of two potential solutions to periodontal disease in dogs.

Paola Massari, Ph.D., of Boston Medical Center will investigate a vaccine that would use a dog’s immune system to fight the bacteria responsible for gum disorders leading to tooth loss and pain.

Django Martel, DVM, of the Animal Medical Center in New York will work with colleagues to determine whether antibiotic gel therapy can reduce periodontal disease, the Raleigh, N.C.-based foundation reported.

Periodontal disease is a common condition in adult dogs. Most canines show evidence of periodontal disease and associated discomfort by age 3, the foundation noted.

“Just like … in humans, periodontal disease in dogs is a painful condition that profoundly affects quality of life and can lead to a multitude of health problems,” said the foundation’s chief scientific officer, Shila Nordone, MS, Ph.D.

“We have strategically funded research that will have immediate impact by supporting the evidence-based use of antibiotic gels to treat progressive disease, while also funding research that will provide a long-term solution by developing an effective vaccine to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place,” she said.

Each grant, announced Nov. 13, is valued at more than $12,000.

The foundation also released a free podcast, “Periodontal Disease and Dental Health in Dogs,” prepared by Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, Dipl. AVDC. The podcast is available at

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