Dogs are showing signs of a potentially deadly disease that has been linked to dog bites, prompting veterinarians to investigate the issue.
A study published Monday in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found that dogs are more likely to have dental eruption, a disease caused by the loss of an inner lining that helps protect teeth from damage during chewing.
Researchers said the disorder was common in dogs, and the number of cases has increased in recent years.
“Dogs are a big, big target,” said Dr. Robert Fink, a pediatrician at the University of California, Davis, and an author of the study.
The researchers said the disease causes tooth loss and can be life-threatening.
They also said the canine immune system has been unable to fight the disease.
It’s a rare disease, and it can take months or years to get better, Fink said.
The study found that the disease affected at least 40 percent of dogs, with up to 40 percent having a “severe” episode.
Experts said the diagnosis is more likely for dogs that have lost their original inner lining because of a traumatic event, such as a car accident or a stroke.
The study found the most common dogs had more dental eruption than dogs without it, such that 10 percent had severe disease, including those that were chewing their teeth.
Many dogs do not have visible signs of the disease, but the scientists found some were more likely than others to have visible dental eruption.
The dogs had significantly more dental erosion in the lower jaw than those with more severe disease.
The disease is similar to canine spongiform encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a defect in the immune system.
The disease can affect dogs from puppies to older adults.