Dental Health Awareness in Pets

Did you know that more than 70% of pets over three years of age have dental disease?  What exactly does this mean for your pet?  A “dental” is a peridontal treatment performed because our vets have identified that your pet is suffering from our most commonly seen disease, Periodontal Disease.  This is a disease that is primarily caused by plaque and tartar build-up that then leads to gingivitis.  The infection then spreads below the gumline and affects the structures surrounding the roots of the teeth.  It is a painful disease that eventually leads to your dog losing teeth. 

The signs can be very subtle but bad breath will probably be the thing that you notice first.  If your dog has a sore tooth, they won't stop eating, but change the way they eat (chews on the other side) or what they like to eat (doesn't like his dry food anymore, just likes tinned food now).  Sometimes their eating won’t be affected at all - dogs don't chew with their front teeth!  When the disease becomes quite advanced they may be feeling unwell all the time, listless, and sleep a lot.

The Periodontal Treatment involves your dog undergoing a general anaesthetic - we would love them to sit in the chair and say "Aaaahhh", but unfortunately they just won't agree!  In order to reduce the risks of anaesthesia in your pet, we first perform a pre-anaesthetic blood test to rule out any underlying health issues that may increase your pet's risk of undergoing the anaesthetic.   This is an important step before any surgery, but in particular for dental procedures because dental disease can have an impact on the overall health of some patients.  We also commence your pet on intravenous fluid therapy to maintain their blood pressure throughout the anaesthetic and to keep them nicely hydrated to support their body in the metabolism of the anaesthetic drugs.  Your pet will be closely monitored throughout the anaesthetic by one of our nurses.

Once your pet is anaesthetised the Periodontal Treatment can begin.  We firstly complete a thorough examination of the mouth - this includes not only the teeth, but the soft tissues of the mouth.  We do this because there are other conditions that can be found in your pet’s mouth – broken teeth, foreign objects (like bones or sticks) and even oral tumours.  We complete a Dental Chart outlining any and all signs of disease or pathology.  We record this in your pet’s medical history and use it to explain to you what we’ve found and how we’ve treated it.   This examination may reveal that further treatment is required including the surgical extraction of broken or diseased teeth.  If we need to extract a tooth we give an injection into the gum to numb the area just like your dentist does with you.  Even though your pet is under an anaesthetic, they will still respond to pain stimuli, so we aim to make them comfortable throughout.  We also give them analgesia at the end of the procedure and send them home with a few days' of pain relief to help with their recovery.  In some cases, our Vets may recommend a course of antibiotics to help fight the infection caused by dental disease.