Love conquers all things except poverty and a toothache. – Mae West
Have you ever had a toothache? It hurts! Keeping your pet’s teeth clean and healthy is imperative to their health. They deserve clean, pain-free teeth. The American Dental Association recommends humans have their teeth checked every six months, which is equivalent to every three years in a pet.
Dental disease is one of the most overlooked diseases in pets, even though it is very prevalent and dangerous. If left untreated, the disease can travel through the bloodstream. This causes many serious problems, including heart, liver, and kidney disease.
The worst part of dental disease is its prevalence. It is thought that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats more than three years old are affected by the disease. The number is astonishing, considering how many pets are well taken care of!
The best way to prevent dental disease is to brush your pet’s teeth.
Good dental care also requires routine examinations by a veterinarian.
Veterinarians can catch dental disease early. Your pet’s teeth should be checked twice a year by a veterinarian for early signs of dental disease to ensure your pet is healthy.
Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
- Bad breath
- 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 an animal in pain may bite.
Take a quick look at this homemade video on checking your pet’s teeth:
One more thing…
To help prevent tooth fracture, only safe items should be given to your pet. And the following items should be avoided:
- Real bones
- Nylon bones
- Cow hooves
- Ice cubes
- Cages (if your pet chews on them)
- Other hard treats or toys
How does a dental cleaning work?
Step 1: Exam and lab work
The veterinarians will review what they have found during the dental exam. They may discuss medical history, buildup of plague, diseased gums, possible tooth extractions, masses, retained baby teeth, or general preventive cleaning.
When the lab work is back and reviewed, the veterinarians will call you if they find a problem that may prevent future dental work.
A written estimate will be given on what the dental procedure will cost. It will be approximate as we will not know exactly what needs to be done until the procedure is complete.
This is a good time to talk about post-op medications for pain and infection.
Step 2: Schedule a professional dental cleaning and/or procedure
The dental procedure must be scheduled within 90 days of lab work and exam to ensure no new disease or concerns have occurred.
Dental procedures are done Monday – Friday at 7 am.
Step 3: Professional dental cleaning day
NO FOOD OR WATER AFTER 10 PM the night before the procedure.
Drop off your pet at 7 am. Dentals are the first patients to be treated.
What will happen to my pet during a dental procedure?
Because pets will not sit in a chair and open their mouths for the dentist like their pet parents, anesthesia is required. Anesthesia is essential because it allows your pet to be quiet, calm, relaxed, and pain-free so your veterinarian can conduct a thorough examination of the whole oral cavity. This will be the very best time to do a thorough evaluation of your pet’s oral and dental health.
The teeth and oral cavity will be thoroughly examined, including beneath the gumline, to look for unseen diseases.
During the dental procedure your pet will be monitored for blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm (electrocardiogram) oxygen levels, respiratory rate, and temperature. An IV (intravenous fluids) will be placed in the front leg (just as humans do) before surgery. The IV allows us to give fluids or medications during the procedure if needed and is a good standard of care for all surgical procedures.
Once the dental procedure is complete, we will call you and let you know how your fur baby is doing and what was done.
Step 4: Picking up your pet after a dental procedure
We highly recommend antibiotics, pain medications, and Hill’s Prescription I/D food after surgery. However, these medications are optional.
What to expect when you bring your pet home after dental surgery
- Prepare a quiet stress-free place for your pet to rest.
- Your pet will be sleepy and lethargic and maybe a little disoriented for the first 24 hours. If this persists longer than 24 hours, call us.
- Vomiting is normal. However, if your pet can’t stop vomiting, call us.
- We recommend soft food for one week, preferably ID canned food. ID is soft for ease of chewing and good for digestion after surgery. Depending on the type of procedure, they may need to avoid hard kibble and treats for a few days until an appropriate level of healing has occurred.
- Lack of appetite is common for the first 24 hours.
- A little blood tinging is ok. Excessive bleeding is not ok.
Once your pet has recuperated from anesthesia and is back to eating a (mostly) normal diet, it is important to observe them closely for healing in case infection occurs. Pets frequently show no signs of pain, even when they are suffering. There are some understated signs of pain to look for following dental surgery. If you observe any of the following signs in your pet, call us:
- If they are able to eat hard food again but don’t want to
- Disinterest in favorite chew toys
- Dropping food while trying to eat
- Aggressive or painful behaviors when you touch their face
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Pawing at their face or rubbing it against objects/floor
- Excessive drooling
- Swelling or bleeding around the wound
- Drainage from the eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
Monday – Friday: 7:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 12:00pm
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