Imagine what your mouth would feel like if you never brushed your teeth or went to the dentist. For many dogs and cats, this is a painful reality. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by the age of 3. Dental (or periodontal) disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.
Common signs of dental disease include:
Yellow or brown buildup (tartar) on the teeth
Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
Changes in eating or chewing habits
Pawing at the face
Even if your dog or cat doesn’t have these symptoms, we recommend that you have a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. Bacteria and food debris accumulate around the teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay can result in irreversible periodontal disease, tooth loss, and possibly expensive oral surgery.
Dental disease can also affect other organs in the body: Bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and cause serious infections in the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart. If these problems aren’t caught and treated quickly enough, they can result in death. A physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if the infection in the mouth has spread.
Pain Management and Control
We know the issue of pain management is of great concern to pet owners today. As in human medicine, we have a variety of medications available to manage your pet’s pain both before and after surgery and in the event of trauma. We would be pleased to discuss the options available to you and your pet under any of the above circumstances.
When we need to figure out what’s wrong with your pet, we routinely use x-rays to help identify the cause of the problem, rule out possible problems, or provide a list of possible causes. We may also use x-rays during a wellness exam to diagnose potential problems before they become serious.
X-rays provide valuable information about a pet’s bones, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), respiratory tract (lungs), heart, and genitourinary system (bladder, prostate). We use radiology alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools. Interpretation of radiographs requires great skill on the part of the veterinarian.
We are proud to offer digital radiology (x-rays that are captured digitally rather than on film). This state-of-the-art technology allows us to provide you with a quicker diagnosis for your pet. Plus, it uses less radiation than traditional x-rays.
To avoid a blurry image, pets need to remain completely still while an x-ray is taken. In some cases, we may need to sedate your pet or use short-acting general anesthesia.
To ensure a proper diagnosis, we often need to examine your pet. We begin a medical assessment by looking at your pet’s eyes, ears, and skin and checking his or her cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, and skeletal systems for any abnormalities. We will perform blood and/or urine tests as necessary to check your pet’s kidneys, liver, pancreas, and endocrine system, including the thyroid and adrenal glands. Based on your pet’s condition, we may recommend further diagnostic tests, such as radiography (x-rays), endoscopy (internal scoping), ultrasound, or biopsy.
We inject a small microchip that’s about the size of a grain of rice under your pet’s skin. The microchip has a number that identifies your pet on the national registry. If your pet goes missing, veterinarians, shelters, and police stations can scan your pet and contact you. While collars and tags can be separated from your pet, a microchip provides identification for a lifetime.