Dental Care for Dogs & Cats

A pet’s bad breath may be more serious than you think. Bad breath can be a sign of bacteria attacking your pet’s teeth and gums. It can indicate periodontal disease, a very common condition that affects dogs and cats.

Your pet needs routine dental care to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Call today to schedule your dog or cat’s next dental cleaning.

Periodontal Disease and Dental Care for Dogs & Cats

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is the general term used to describe disease of the gums, tooth roots, bone surrounding the teeth and periodontal ligament tissue that joins the teeth to the bone. The cause, in dogs, cats and humans, is plaque (soft) which forms on the tooth and tooth root underneath the gums and consists of saliva bacteria and food particles. Bacteria multiply as the plaque hardens into tartar or calculus. The gum tissue is invaded, causing gingivitis (reddened, infected/inflamed gums) and bad breath. Bacteria excrete toxic waste products and damaging enzymes, which erode gum tissue supporting ligaments, and surrounding bones of the tooth root socket (periodontitis). This causes loosening and loss of teeth over time as well as pain and discomfort while eating. Abscessation and osteomyelitis (bone infection) occur in some cases. Periodontitis can lead to systemic infection and valvular heart disease when bacteria gain access to the bloodstream through infected/inflamed gums. Periodontal disease is one of the most common problems affecting dogs and cats. At least 95% of all dogs, aged five years or more, are affected.

The dangers of periodontal disease go beyond bad breath and lost teeth. Left untreated, periodontal diseases may cause changes in your pets’ kidneys, heart, and liver. Consequently, proper oral health care, including treatment and prevention, is important for the optimum health and quality of life of your pet.

What are the signs?

  • Bad breath
  • Plaque/tartar accumulation on teeth; usually starts on molars (check all teeth)
  • Red, inflamed gums
  • Receded gums/exposed tooth roots

What can be done?

Ultrasonic/subsonic scaling and polishing is recommended to clean the teeth and slow the progression of periodontal disease. Antibiotics are often indicated for gingivitis and periodontitis and to fight any bacteria which may have invaded the bloodstream. A complete physical exam, necessary laboratory work (eg. blood work, x-rays) are completed prior to the procedure which requires general anesthesia. Extractions are performed as indicated by x-rays and evaluation of the extent of periodontitis under anesthesia.

What is expected of me?

It is important to withhold food after 10 p.m. the night before the procedure. Drop your pet off at the hospital in the morning, and call late in the afternoon before picking your pet up to make sure he/she is awake from the anesthesia. Home care entails feeding a soft diet (canned or moistened dry pet food) for a few days starting the next morning. Food is not recommended right after general anesthesia. Provide water free choice. Often an endotracheal tube is passed into the windpipe for maintenance with gas anesthesia; sometimes this causes minor irritation and a cough for a few days after the procedure. If your pet has a cough and it seems excessive or does not improve in 3 to 4 days please call our office.

What about preventions?

After hospital treatment, cleaning your pet’s teeth at home is very helpful in preventing or slowing the buildup of plaque and subsequent periodontal disease. Daily brushing or cleaning with an approved veterinary dentifrice is ideal. Dry kibble diets and hard pet treats alone are inadequate for the control of plaque and periodontal disease. Sometimes routine hospital dentistries (ie. every 6 to 12 months) are needed to prevent progression of periodontal disease and loss of teeth.

Oral Surgery for Cats, Dogs, and Rabbits

Oral surgery can improve the quality of your animals. In some cases, oral surgery may be life saving. Oral surgery may be needed for dental problems requiring extractions, foreign bodies, jaw fracture repair, maxillofacial reconstruction, oro-nasal fistula repairs, oral tumor treatment, palatal defect repair and periodontal disease treatment. With recent developments in providing balanced anesthesia and incorporating newer analgesia (pain management) techniques, virtually any of the oral surgery procedures can be performed with minimal patient discomfort. Dr. Brien Bates works directly with internal medicine and emergency, critical care specialists to provide optimal patient monitoring during the recovery period. Pain management, nutritional support and excellent nursing care are fundamental to optimal recovery from major oral surgery.

Feeding (esophagostomy or gastrostomy) tubes improve nutritional support for the patient and allow for easier administration of medications. Additionally, feeding tubes help prevent damage to the oral surgical site by eliminating the need to manipulate the mouth to provide oral medications.

It can be very difficult for pet owner’s to make the decision to choose oral surgery for their companions; however, these decisions are typically very rewarding for them. Please call us at DeAnza Vet Clinic with any questions.

The first step toward good oral health is a dental health checkup. Call today: (408) 996-1411!