Our dogs and cats cannot tell us directly when something is wrong with their teeth. We have to be proactive about dog and cat dental care so that any problems can be dealt with early. While brushing your pet’s teeth at home is helpful, your pet should also come in at least once a year for professional teeth cleaning. The veterinarian in Concord will also examine your pet’s teeth every time they come in for a wellness check. If a serious condition is discovered during an exam, a follow-up dental appointment may be scheduled. Here is some information about dental care for dogs and cats, and the dental services we provide at Concord Veterinary Clinic.
Dog and Cat Dental Care in Concord
The veterinary services we provide for dogs and cats include teeth cleaning, tooth extractions, tooth filing, adjustments, and more. Veterinary technicians are allowed to perform some limited pet dental procedures in California, while under direct supervision from a licensed veterinarian. All types of oral surgery, however, must be performed directly by your licensed veterinarian.
A dental appointment will involve an exam of your pet’s teeth. Most damage to a dog or cat’s teeth happens below the gumline, so X-rays may be needed once your pet gets older, or if the veterinarian recommends it. A more thorough exam and dental cleaning will involve the use of anesthesia, to keep your pet still and safe during the procedure. During a teeth cleaning, your pet’s teeth are scaled and polished, much like what happens during a human’s trip to the dentist.
Dental Problems That Should Prompt a Vet Visit
Keeping up with annual vet visits and cleanings is usually sufficient for keeping serious problems at bay. However, things can happen over the course of a year between visits. If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms in your dog or cat, give us a call to schedule an appointment:
- Broken teeth
- Badly discolored teeth
- Teeth covered in tartar
- Drooling at mealtime, dropping food from the mouth, or abnormal chewing
- Swelling or bleeding in or around the mouth
- Pet refuses to eat or has a reduced appetite
If a dog or cat is experiencing pain from an oral problem, they may become irritable. They might even try to nip at you or bite if they are in extreme pain. Any types of sudden behavioral changes like this, or the symptoms listed above, should prompt a call to the vet’s office.
Causes of Dog and Cat Dental Problems
Most dog and cat dental issues are very similar to the types of tooth problems that humans go through:
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Broken teeth
- Abscessed or infected teeth
- Stomatitis (severely infected gums)
- Jaw fracture
- Cysts or oral tumors
- Malocclusion, or misaligned bite between the upper & lower jaw
- Cleft palate or other palate defects
Gum disease is extremely common in dogs and cats. Most pets will start to show early signs of it by the time they are 3 years of age. Periodontal disease only worsens over time without treatment. Early intervention is key to treating it. Gum disease has been shown to impact the internal organs of pets once it gets into the advanced stages, such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
Periodontal disease starts to set in as plaque on your pet’s teeth hardens into tartar. Tartar below the gumline sets the stage to eventually cause an infection in the gum tissues. X-rays and a thorough, professional teeth cleaning may be required to further diagnose the condition. Once it is determined how severe the pet’s gum disease is, on a scale of 0 to 4, a range of treatment options will be explained to you.
Stomatitis in Cats and Dogs
Stomatitis can affect both dogs and cats and there are a variety of reasons why the condition can develop. While gum disease affects the tissues surrounding a tooth, stomatitis can affect the entire mouth. It can be caused by fungal or viral infections (especially feline viral infections in cats), kidney disease, eating toxic substances, hormone disorders or reactions to medications.
Pain and anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to help treat your pet’s stomatitis. Antibiotics may also be required for serious infections.
In cats, sometimes the only way to treat stomatitis is by performing tooth extractions, starting with the back molars. In more severe cases, all of a kitty’s teeth may need to be extracted. Don’t worry — cats can still eat with their teeth removed. Most will “gum” their favorite kibble, or you can switch to a diet of soft canned food for them.
Pet Dentistry and Anesthesia
Pets don’t understand what’s happening to them when they undergo X-rays or dental procedures, including cleaning. Anesthesia is administered so that your pet will remain still and calm during the procedure, and so they won’t experience any pain. Your pet will be carefully monitored the whole time during and after a dental procedure. Our number one goal is to clear up your pet’s oral issues and get them back to full health!