According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, oral disease is the number one health problem diagnosed in dogs and cats. Without proper dental care, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by three years of age, yet only 3 percent of dogs and 1 percent of cats receive proper treatment. All pets are at risk for developing dental problems, so it is important to check your pet's mouth and teeth for the following warning signs of dental disease:
Tartar buildup on the teeth
Swollen or bleeding gums
Change in eating habits - dropping food, anorexia
Fortunately, pet owners can help prevent dental disease in their pets by providing home and professional dental care. Dental care for animals is similar to dental care for humans, only animals can't brush their own teeth—they rely on you as their guardian. To help prevent and treat dental problems, we recommend that you bring your pet in twice a year for a dental exam and dental cleaning.
What happens to my pet during a dental cleaning?
Upon admitting in the morning with your veterinarian, your pet will have a small blood sample drawn (if one was not done prior). This blood panel, which includes a complete blood count and evaluates liver and kidney function, will notify our staff of any metabolic problems that may affect your pet while under anesthesia. An intravenous (IV) catheter will be placed so your pet can receive fluids during the dental. These fluids will help to regulate your pets’ blood pressure, along with supporting kidney function if kidney disease is known or suspected. Additionally, an injection of an antibiotic, pain medications, and a sedative will be given to your pet. Our staff will then place your pet under general anesthesia. A pulse oximeter will be used to monitor heart rate and oxygen levels, while blood pressure and temperature are also measured throughout the duration of the procedure.
Did you know that over 60% of dental disease is present below the gum line? One of our licensed veterinary technicians will take digital dental radiographs of your pets’ mouth—these may uncover any dental disease that may be hidden under the gum line or inside the tooth. Once the radiographs are completed, manual and ultrasonic scaling will be performed to remove the build-up of plaque from your pets’ teeth. Our technicians’ will then polish each tooth, instill a specially formulated rinse to wash out the bacteria in your pets’ mouth, and then conclude with a fluoride treatment.
If no other problems were seen during the cleaning or radiographs your pet will be recovered from anesthesia and monitored by our staff until fully recovered. We will call you with an update and approximate time your pet will be ready to go home. Upon discharge, your veterinarian or a technician will go over home care instructions, medication being sent home (usually antibiotics and pain medication), and any follow up visits that may be required.
There are many oral cleaning products designed exclusively for pet use—talk to a staff member about which products would be appropriate for your pet. Daily brushing of your pets’ teeth will minimize plaque build-up. Antiseptic oral rinses will help protect against bacterial growth in their mouth. Dental diets and specially formulated chew treats will also help to keep the teeth healthy in between visits to our hospital.
Proper dental care is critical to a pet’s overall health. Bacteria from periodontal disease, if left untreated, can travel through the bloodstream and damage internal organs including the kidney, heart and liver. Keeping your pets’ teeth healthy can greatly increase their quality of life and the number of years you have to spend with your pet.
At home dental care is an important step in maintaining healthy teeth for your pet. However, choosing the wrong products could actually increase the chance damaging your pets’ teeth.
Examples of safe chew toys:
·Kong™ Toys ·Virbac CET™ Chews ·Greenies®
What to avoid:
·Whole bones ·Pig Ears ·Cow Hooves
Special “dog and cat friendly” toothpaste can be used to clean your pets’ teeth. Human toothpaste contains a high amount of fluoride and should be avoided. Smaller soft toothbrushes and finger brushes can be used to make cleaning easier and fun for everyone!
A variety of oral rinses can be used to help minimize the buildup of tartar and plaque. Ask our receptionists for help with picking out the best product for your pet.