Posts Tagged ‘oral health’

Why should you care about the bacteria in your pet’s mouth?
We have even more answers today.
(See Part I here.)


Q: What’s the difference between gingivitis and periodontal disease?
A: Gingivitis is reversible and can be treated and prevented with thorough plaque removal and continued plaque control. Periodontal disease is more severe and is irreversible. It may require advanced therapy and thorough plaque control to prevent progression of the disease. Periodontal disease causes red, swollen, tender gums, receding gums, bleeding gums, oral pain and dysfunction and bad breath. Periodontal disease, if left untreated, may lead to tooth loss and systemic health problems affecting the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs.

Q: Can I reduce the risk of oral disease for my pet?
A: Yes. The good news is that oral disease is primarily preventable. The Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry recommends a three-step program to help prevent oral disease. Take your pet to his or her veterinarian for a dental exam; start a home dental care routine; and take your pet to his or her veterinarian for regular checkups. Research shows that canine gingivitis can be controlled by regular tooth brushing, and that feeding a pet food with proven oral benefits is also helpful in daily plaque control and maintenance of oral health. Your pet is never too old to begin a dental care routine.

Q: Does it matter to my pet’s teeth whether he or she eats hard or soft food?
A: Studies show that hard kibbles are slightly better at keeping plaque from accumulating on the teeth. Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D for dogs and cats has been proven to help remove plaque and tartar. If you think your pet needs a special food, consult his or her veterinarian.

Q: What are the warning signs that my pet has an unhealthy mouth?
A: Some of the common signs of oral disease include bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face, lethargy, and depression. Oral disease causes pain in your pet’s mouth. If you notice any of these signs, take your pet to his or her veterinarian for a dental exam.

Do you have questions about your pet’s oral health? Contact us today.

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Why should you care about the bacteria in your pet’s mouth?
We have the answers, in this National Pet Dental Health Month special report.


Q: How do bacteria affect my pet’s mouth?
A: Bacteria play a role in the formation of plaque and tartar. When bacteria combine with saliva and food debris in the channel between the tooth and the gum, plaque forms and accumulates on the tooth. Bacteria continue to grow in the plaque and, as calcium salts are deposited, plaque becomes tartar.

Left: a tartar shell; Right: a molar once covered by the tartar shell (Photo by Jennifer Miele)

Left: a tartar shell; Right: a molar once covered by the tartar shell (Photo by Jennifer Miele)

Q: Is tartar build-up dangerous to my pet?
A: Yes. If tartar is not removed from your pet’s teeth, pockets of pus may appear along the gumline and further separate the tooth from the gum, which allows more food and bacteria to accumulate. Without proper dental treatment, gingivitis — and possibly periodontal disease — may develop.

Tooth model 2 (2)

Click to enlarge

Q: Can bacteria in my pet’s mouth cause other problems?
A: If bacteria build-up in your pet’s mouth causes periodontal disease, systemic health problems that affect the liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs may occur. Oral disease may also affect your pet’s behavior and sociability with others.

Q: How common is oral disease for pets?
A: Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three. Periodontal disease is a common problem in dogs. Many factors contribute to the prevalence and severity of periodontal disease, including breed, genetics, age, diet, chewing behavior, and systemic health.

On Thursday, we will discuss the difference between gingivitis and periodontal disease. Stay tuned!

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Thanks to an abundance of education and dental products, many pet owners are aware of the importance of oral health care in dogs and cats. Indeed, many owners agree to pet dental cleanings, which are performed under general anesthesia and provide the highest level of dental care for a pet.

(What can you do for your pet’s dental health at home?
The answer is here.)

Traditionally, routine dental cleanings have been performed at the primary veterinarian’s office, with great success and no ill effects. However, veterinary care standards are changing, and that could affect the level of care your pet receives.

For instance, the standard of care for dentistry is now moving towards intra-oral, or full mouth, radiographs (X-rays), to more accurately determine the health of tooth roots and jaw bones. A pet’s mouth can appear clean and healthy, while at the same time exhibiting bone loss on X-ray. This becomes especially important in the case of tooth extractions.

A pet can suffer a broken jaw during a tooth extraction if the veterinarian is unaware of the shape or location of the tooth root or of bone loss leading to increased fragility of the jawbone. These risks should be expressed to the owner in advance of tooth extractions. The risk can be more accurately predicted, and perhaps minimized, through the use of dental X-rays.

Naturally, when a service is added, the overall fees increase. A dental X-ray + teeth cleaning and extractions will cost more than just a cleaning and extractions. However, the benefit of avoiding broken jaw bones is more than worth the extra cost incurred for X-rays.

In some recent experiences of pet owners across the U.S., broken jawbones that occurred during tooth extractions cost the owners $4,400 in one case; $3,000 in another case; and $10,000 in a third case. In each case, dental X-rays were not performed, and could have been useful in predicting complications.

(Need tips on brushing your pet’s teeth?
We have them here.)

Dr. Miele refers dental cases to a local veterinary dentist who includes full-mouth X-rays as part of his standard level of care. This allows the veterinary dentist to know ahead of time if there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. For instance, did you know that a veterinary dentist will perform root canals in order to save a pet’s teeth, rather than pulling them?

(What happens when a tooth root becomes infected?
Find the answer here.)

Veterinary dental care has become more sophisticated over the years, allowing your pet to receive the highest level of care available. And since oral health is related to overall health in pets, it is one area not to be overlooked. We trust your pet’s health to our local veterinary dental specialist, because we believe that your pet will receive a high standard of care before, during, and after its dental procedures.

Est. 1973

Information from this article borrowed from AVMA/PLIT Professional Liabilty Newsletter, Vol. 34, No. 3


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Most of us think
of our cats as self-sustaining little creatures (except when it comes to using a can opener) — but the truth is, cats need vet care just like dogs.

Cats are especially stoic and will often hide signs of disease or illness until the problem becomes serious. An annual exam can help catch problems in the early stages. And even if a disease or physical disorder is not evident at the time of the exam, the veterinarian can remind you what to look for throughout the year and make health recommendations based on your cat’s age and living conditions.

If more than a year has passed since your cat had an examination, it’s time to get him to the vet.

Quick questions: Are your cat’s vaccines (including Rabies) up-to-date? When was the last time your outdoor cat’s stool was tested for parasites?

Now, take note of your cat’s everyday habits and appearance (especially cats older than 7):

  • Does it use the litterbox or has your cat begun urinating and defecating in inappropriate areas?
  • Does your cat urinate more frequently or in larger amounts than usual?
  • Does your cat eat and drink more or less than it used to?
  • Has your cat gained or lost a significant amount of weight?
  • Does your cat sleep longer hours than usual?
  • Does your cat howl or vocalize more often, especially at night?
  • Have you noticed any lumps, bumps, sores or other skin irregularities on your cat?
  • Are its eyes bright and shiny or cloudy and dull?
  • Are its ears clean and pale pink or crusty, bloody, or filled with dark wax?
  • Are its teeth clean and white or brown and coated with tartar?
  • Does your cat have foul, stinky breath?
  • Is your cat’s fur shiny and smooth or dull and spiky?
  • Does your cat have trouble jumping onto its favorite perch or climbing stairs?
  • Does your cat have fleas or Tapeworms?

Let’s get together and talk about your cat’s health:  load your cat into its carrier and bring her in for a check-up. Make notes of your concerns, so we address the changes you’re seeing in your cat at home.

One last tip: your cat’s toenails need regular trimming if she is not wearing them down on a scratching post. Learn how to clip your pet’s nails or ask us to trim them on your next visit.


These kittens play when the doctor's away!

These kittens play when the doctor’s away!

This article originally posted on March 5, 2013.

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Since it’s already the 17th, I should tell you that February is National Pet Dental Health Month.

No doubt you’ve been furiously brushing your teeth after ingesting all the candy your Sweetie gave you last Saturday.

After you’ve finished taking care of your own choppers, take a look inside your pet’s mouth. 

Choose a dentifrice made for pets.

Choose a dentifrice made for pets.

  • Are any teeth loose, broken, or missing?
  • Are the gums swollen or inflamed?
  • Are there any growths on the gums, lips, roof or floor of the mouth?
  • Do you see pus or blood in the mouth?
  • Are the teeth yellow, brown, or crusted with tartar?
  • Is there a foul odor?
  • Is there fur wrapped around the teeth? (This happens mainly in pets that lick or chew at themselves often.)
  • Has your pet become reluctant to eat, drink cold water, or play with chew toys?
  • Is your pet drooling excessively?
  • Is there a lump beneath one or both eyes (this can signal a carnassial tooth root abscess.)

If you notice any of those signs in your pet, it’s time for a dental checkup.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Good pet dental health begins at home.  Look for pet-specific toothpaste (human toothpaste is not recommended), gels and liquids meant for cleaning your pet’s mouth after meals.
Regular use of a dentifrice can help delay plaque and tartar buildup and it can help freshen your pet’s breath.  (We like Oxyfresh Oral Hygiene for Pets.)
Cleaning your pet’s teeth after meals will allow you to notice any changes in oral health right away.

Left: a calculus shell    Right: a molar once covered by the calculus shell  (Photo by Jennifer Miele)

Left: a calculus shell Right: a molar once covered by the calculus shell (Photo by Jennifer Miele)

This is the inside of the calculus shell, which was molded to the tooth.  (Photo by Jennifer Miele)

This is the inside of the calculus shell, which was molded to the tooth. (Photo by Jennifer Miele)

This post originally appeared February 15, 2011.

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     Great news! We’ve added a new dental care product to our line-up:  VetzLife Oral Care Gel.

     You may have seen similar products advertised on TV: a gel or liquid is applied to the pet’s teeth daily or weekly, and plaque and tartar begin to break down.

     No process is as fast and effective as a dental cleaning under general anesthesia, but not all pets are suitable candidates for the procedure. Instead, more veterinarians and their clients are turning to products like VetzLife Oral Care Gel to provide a safe form of plaque and tartar removal.

     Plaque and tartar removal do take time, and it requires consistent application of the gel. And if you feel that your pet won’t like having its mouth handled, you can pat some gel on his lips. When he licks it off, the gel will spread over his teeth.

     We chose VetzLife Oral Care Gel, because it offers professional strength plaque and tartar reduction and 100% all-natural ingredients, at an affordable price. It also kills the bacteria that cause gingivitis and bad breath.

     See two photos below showing actual results after thirty days of application, on two different dogs.


     Ask for a bottle of VetzLife Oral Care Gel on your next visit to our clinic. We’ll even take before and after photos for you, to document the difference.
Photos above were borrowed from with permission.

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