Pet Dental Care for
Dogs, Cats & Small Pets
Dental disease is an often-overlooked threat to the comfort and health of your pet. While dental disease is present in 70–85% of pets over the age of two, many owners don’t recognize the signs or symptoms. Because these symptoms can be subtle or misleading, bringing your pet in for a wellness examination is the only way to ensure detection.
Following this exam, your veterinarian may recommend a particular dental cleaning schedule, oral care routine, or special treatment based on your pet’s dental health needs. We offer free dental evaluations by our dental technicians to discuss your pet’s dental health needs and a successful dental home care regimen.
All pets require a good oral exam annually and periodic dental intervention. Consistent care benefits your pet by preventing tooth decay, infection, odor, pain, and gum disease, as well as extending the life of your pet.
Did you know an unhealthy mouth can affect your pet’s internal organ systems? The negative consequences for disregarding pet dental care include poor nutrition; damage to heart, kidney, or liver from bacterial infections; weight loss; eye infections and vision impairment; chronic pain; and behavior problems. Simple annual exams and periodic care can easily prevent such health risks.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has Dental Disease?
Regular cleaning of an animal’s teeth is just the beginning. An oral exam looks for healthy gums, intact teeth, and any abnormalities. This regular exam is your pet’s first defense in maintaining good health. Some patients may need a dental X-ray to detect problems below the gum line. In most cases, we recommend screening dental X-rays every other year.
Call us at once if your pet develops bad breath or if you observe any of the following:
- Broken or discolored teeth
- Refusal to eat or play with chew toys
- Pawing the muzzle
- Drooling or unusual discharge from the nose, eyes, or mouth
- Swelling or sores on the face, jaw, or around eyes
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Red, inflamed gums
- Doesn’t play with chew toys as often
- Pain when eating
Pet Dental Cleaning and Treatments
Our technicians are trained in dentistry and work closely with the veterinarians in cleaning and examining teeth. Pets are anesthetized during any procedure to treat them safely and humanely.
What about the risks of anesthesia?
Though very small, anesthesia is a very real risk for dogs and cats, just as it is for humans. We take care to further reduce the risks of anesthesia by following a proactive protocol.
We recommend pre-surgical blood work for each patient prior to placing them under anesthesia, especially senior or chronically ill pets. Our dental team monitors the patient throughout the dental procedure to ensure an appropriate response to anesthesia. We use very safe anesthetics and monitor your pet for any adverse reactions as they recover.
Please remember, the adverse effects of bad teeth on the overall health of the pet greatly outweigh the anesthetic risk.
Does my pet have to stay overnight after the dental procedure?
Generally, routine dentals are an outpatient procedure. Patients check in between 7:30 and 8 a.m. The procedure is performed in the late morning to early afternoon.
Patients are usually ready to return home after 5 p.m. the same day. Pets receiving advanced dental procedures with X-rays and extractions are still discharged the same day.
What if my pet needs more advanced treatments?
If your pet requires advanced treatments, our veterinarians are experienced in such surgical procedures as extractions and flaps. Pet owners are given an explanation of all the options, and the veterinarian will address any concerns you may have about the cleaning or other necessary treatments.
During the cleaning or any procedures, pain management for your animal is our top priority.
How long can my pet go between dental cleanings?
Some dogs (usually small breeds) can require a dental up to every six months. Some dogs can go three to four years between dental cleanings. Typically, after the age of two or three, most dogs and cats will need a dental every year or two. Assessment by your veterinarian will allow you to discuss your pet’s dental health and if excessive plaque or periodontal disease requires a cleaning.
Remember, good oral hygiene at home increases the time between professional cleanings. Home care will maintain your pet’s teeth and extend the time between needed cleanings. For help in this area, you may enjoy the WebMD Pet Health website, which offers a video demonstration in How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth and the comprehensive article Ten Steps to Cat Dental Health.
For more information on getting started with your pet’s home dental care regime, read the AAHA teeth brushing article.