Periodontal Disease and Chronic Kidney Failure

Common in dogs, the connection is now seen in cats

While studies have looked at the connection between periodontal disease and kidney failure in dogs, it is only recently that such a connection has been evaluated for cats. In the March 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a cooperative study between the Banfield Pet Hospitals centered in Vancouver, Washington, and the University of Minnesota looked at associations of these two health problems in cats.

Eleven years worth of records were evaluated to find cats with a diagnosis of periodontal disease. Their health records were then followed to see if they developed kidney problems and if the degree of dental disease was correlated with that of kidney failure. The study results show that cats with dental disease have a greater risk of chronic kidney disease and that the worse the dental disease, the higher the risk of kidney problems. A history of bladder infections was also associated with a higher risk for kidney disease.

As expected, older cats were more likely to have chronic kidney problems than younger cats. Kidney problems tend to be a disease of senior cats, and this study reinforced the association of age with renal disease. Certain breeds of cats were also at a higher risk for developing kidney problems—Siamese, Himalayans, and Abyssinians. Diet was not looked at in this study but is considered to be a factor in the development of kidney disease.

Dental disease may be related to renal problems due to associated presence of bacteria in the bloodstream (bacteremia), which can occur secondary to bacterial infections. Bacteria can travel from the infected mouth to the kidneys and establish an infection there.

The take-home message for cat owners is that dental care is important. Starting a dental-care program early on with kittens or new feline additions to your family is important for overall health and longevity. Toothbrushing is considered the gold standard for preventive pet dental care. See “Take Charge of Your Cat’s Dental Health,” October 2017; available on

JAVMA Vol 252 #6 March 15, 2018 Survival analysis to evaluate associations between periodontal disease and the risk of development of chronic azotemic kidney disease in cats evaluated at primary care hospitals.