Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems.
Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of problems and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
Broken or loose teeth
Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
Pain in or around the mouth
Bleeding from the mouth
Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth, because a painful animal may bite.
Caring for your pet's teeth at home
Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant patience and training are important.
Click here for tips on training your cat for tooth brushing.
Click here to watch a video on training your dog for tooth brushing.
Talk to your veterinarian about dental products that will help your pet, and avoid the following:
-Human toothpaste. It can contain ingredients like xylitol that are toxic to pets.
-Any chew or toy that is harder than the dog’s teeth can break the teeth and cause microfractures of the enamel. Antlers, non-flexible Nylabones, and natural bones are common culprits.
-Pig ears, bully sticks, rawhide, and jerky chews are choking hazards when not used properly, and if not safely sourced may contain harmful bacteria.
-Sticks may seem harmless, they are actually quite dangerous. They can splinter and get lodged in the throat, become stuck in the roof of the mouth causing soft tissue damage, and if swallowed can cause a bowel obstruction or injury.
-Toys that are too small for your pet or contain small pieces can be a choking hazard. They can also be ingested and cause intestinal blockages. Some of these toys can be safely used with proper supervision, but use caution with stuffed toys, rope toys, and tennis ball type toys.
Dental Exams and Cleanings
Our office offers several dental services to keep your pet's mouth healthy including cleaning and polishing, dental xrays, and simple and surgical extractions. At your yearly exam, your veterinarian will check your pet's teeth and make a recommendation for any procedures that may be needed.
If your pet is scheduled for a dental procedure, you will drop them off at 8am, and pick them up the same day, usually in the afternoon. You will fast your pet (nothing to eat or drink) starting at midnight the night before the procedure. If they are on any blood thinning medications or supplements (including fish oil, flax seed, vitamin E, or aspirin), you will be asked to withhold those for two weeks before the procedure. Any required medications including antibiotics or pain medications will be given to you after the procedure.
Unlike people, your pet doesn’t understand the need to remain still, and might react by moving, trying to escape or even biting. Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. It also allows for a more thorough cleaning because your pet isn’t moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If X-rays are needed, better quality images are obtained when your pet is still.
Although anesthesia will always have risks, it is safe overall, and the benefits of using it for dentistry far outweigh the risks. We offer (and recommend) pre-surgical bloodwork to check your pet's ability to process the anesthesia among other things. This can be done the day of the procedure, or you can make an appointment to have it dont beforehand. Most pets are on their feet within minutes of waking up and go home the same day!