Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases of adult dogs, with up to 80% of animals affected. The aetiology of the disease is poorly studied, although bacteria are known to play a major role. The purpose of this study was to identify the bacteria associated with canine gingivitis and periodontitis and to compare this with the normal oral flora. Swabs were obtained from the gingival margin of three dogs with gingivitis and three orally healthy controls, and subgingival plaque was collected from three dogs with periodontitis. Samples were subjected to routine bacterial culture. The prevalent species identified in the normal, gingivitis and periodontitis groups were uncultured bacterium (12.5% of isolates), Bacteroides heparinolyticus/Pasteurella dagmatis (10.0%) and Actinomyces canis (19.4%), respectively. Bacteria were also identified using culture-independent methods (16S rRNA gene sequencing) and the predominant species identified were Pseudomonas sp. (30.9% of clones analysed), Porphyromonas cangingivalis (16.1%) and Desulfomicrobium orale (12.0%) in the normal, gingivitis and periodontitis groups, respectively. Uncultured species accounted for 13.2%, 2.0% and 10.5%, and potentially novel species for 38.2%, 38.3% and 35.3%, of clones in the normal, gingivitis and periodontitis groups, respectively. This is the first study to use utilise culture-independent methods for the identification of bacteria associated with this disease. It is concluded that the canine oral flora in health and disease is highly diverse and also contains a high proportion of uncultured and, in particular, potentially novel species.
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