The coupon below is good for a free sample of Instinct’s RAW with ANY $5 purchase at Town N Country. Any purchase means anything from a pet exam to dog grooming to dog treats!
Archives for February 2011
Answer: True, some dogs and especially some cats will stop eating when the periodontal disease becomes bad enough. However, when it’s that bad we almost always have to extract some diseased teeth. Pets have such a strong instinct to survive and appetite is usually the last to go. They might be swallowing their food whole or only chewing on one side. Some show no signs at all (survival of the fittest).
Bad breath is a sign of infection. A healthy mouth does not have a bad odor. How many 1 and 2 year old labs do you know with stinky breath? Most importantly this infection can harm 3 very important organs. The liver, heart and kidneys can all take a big hit from chronic periodontal disease. Take a look in your pet’s mouth – Odor? Red gums? Tartar accumulation? These indicate that treatment is indicated.
Our Doctor answers: Years ago I’m sure you heard horror stories of senior dogs going under anesthesia and not waking up. If I were in your shoes, I’d still be haunted by those stories too. But times have changed and so has veterinary medicine. In the past, veterinarians did not have the option of inhalant anesthesia and the unpredictable injectable agents were used. Inhalant isofluorane is now a standard of care in almost every veterinary hospital. Unique to our hospital is our pre-anesthetic blood panels and our extensive anesthetic monitoring.
Prior to each procedure we evaluate the internal health of our patients with a pre-anesthetic panel tailored to the individual. This has caught many underlying conditions that owners were not even aware existed. During each procedure we have a thoroughly trained anesthetic technician whose sole responsibility is monitoring temperature, ECG, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and depth of anesthesia. This ensures that any problems which occur are caught early and can be properly addressed. This level of monitoring is another example of why our hospital exceeds the standards of care for our patients. Remember, age is not a disease.
Question: It does not cost this much to get my teeth cleaned. What’s the difference?
Our answer: The list of differences is long. But here are the highlights. First of all, consider the amount of tartar and periodontal disease present in your mouth versus that of your pet. There is very likely an enormous difference. We visit the dentist every 6 month for routine preventative health and cleanings. Our pets very rarely get this service. Their teeth are cleaned when there is already evidence of tartar and/or periodontal disease. Therefore, they automatically get full mouth radiographs at each visit and the simple act of scaling, polishing and charting each tooth takes a significant amount of more time.
Another big difference – the anesthesia. Now you already know this is one of my personal soap-boxes and after reading the information about sedation dentistry, I’m sure it’s one of yours too!
Our answer: Ahh, don’t get me going on this one :o). I’m always so excited when owners ask about this because I love to talk about it! In my opinion (and in the opinion of the American Veterinary Dental Society), this process could be considered malpractice. The reasons are vast but a few of my favorites include:
~ The high risk of aspiration. Think of all the suctioning that occurs during your dental cleaning. Your pet MUST have a protected airway to prevent debris and fluid from traveling into the lungs.
~ Subgingival cleaning is next to impossible to achieve without full anesthesia. This is the scaling and polishing that occurs underneath the gumline where a significant amount of tartar and bacteria can develop.
~ The safety of our staff. A non-anesthetized patient can be roused easily.
~ The thoroughness of the treatment. It is impossible to perform thorough charting, radiographs, scaling and polishing without full anesthesia.
If you’re having your pet’s teeth cleaned it is obviously because you want what is best for them. Sedation dentistry is no where near the best. Whew! Can you believe that is my shortened version!?!?
(Check out this great article for a more thorough explanation. Beware there are some slightly graphic pictures at the end.)
So, it’s time to set the record straight. We polled our staff and came up with the questions we answer most frequently about dental disease and dental cleanings. We’re hoping that these are the questions you have and that you’ll be inspired to provide the best oral care for your pet you that you are able.
Question: My groomer brushes Ludwig’s teeth at each six week visit and he only eats dry kibble. That’s enough, right?
Answer: Unfortunately not. I wish it were enough because I bet we could all commit to this amount of effort! In order for brushing the teeth to be effective it must be performed daily (or at least every other day). As for diet, there are very few diets that are effective in preventing tartar accumulation. Consider this: canned food and dry kibble have high amounts of carbohydrates, which are composed of sugars, which readily attach to teeth forming plaque, tartar and dental disease.
Dry kibble doesn’t sound so good anymore does it?
Question: So what am I supposed to feed for dental health?
2. A diet that increases chewing time and tooth penetration to help clean teeth – Purina Dental Health.
This contest is now closed.
We’re one week into February, and our dental trivia contest is in full swing! Go to and see the list of questions. Answer one question – or all of them. And you don’t have to be the first one to enter; every correct answer counts! For each correct response, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a treat bag full of dental goodies for your pet.
Read more about the dental trivia contest here!
Cody’s destiny with a dental started when he was in for a physical exam and vaccines. As part of a routine physical exam, the veterinarian checked his teeth. Cody’s teeth weren’t in horrible shape for a 7 year old Labrador who loves to chew on sticks and carry tennis balls around the back yard. There was tartar accumulating on the crown of his premolars. A few of the points were worn down, but not substantially enough to affect the nerves.
Then we saw it…a huge cavity like lesion on the back cusp of his lower molar. Now dogs (and cats for that matter) do not often get cavities like people do. His lesion likely developed because he’d broken the cusp and that left a space for food and debris (hair and tennis ball fuzz) to pack into. There was a horrible odor coming from that tooth. After removing a blob of food and fuzz, the remaining crown was black and there was a blister-like lesion at the level of the roots on the jawbone. Cody needed a “dental” and a tooth extraction. After pulling his pre-anesthetic lab work and starting on antibiotics, he was sent home until his scheduled dental appointment.
When Cody woke up on the morning of his appointment, he was a little disappointed because he’d not received his midnight snack and there was no breakfast in the bowl either. But the car ride at least distracted him from his grumbling stomach. He arrived at the hospital and was all checked in.
First on the “to do” list was a pre-anesthetic exam. Even though he’d just recently had one, we listened to his heart and lungs, checked his gums and rechecked the teeth in case anything had changed since his last visit. Cody’s exam was unchanged.
Since all was normal on his lab work, the technical staff worked on placing his IV catheter while his veterinarian worked on his individualized anesthesia and pain plan. All the safest protocols were followed- a tube in his airway to protect his lungs from water going down his windpipe and delivering 100% oxygen to his lungs, IV fluids to support his circulatory system, anesthesia monitoring to track his oxygen levels, heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, temperature and respirations.
Once Cody was under anesthesia, the technicians took digital radiographs (x-rays) of his teeth. We were able to see that the blister like lesion was actually a tooth root abscess. The break on the cusp of the affected molar had allowed bacteria to enter the pulp cavity. The bacteria traveled down to where the nutrient rich blood and less dense alveolar bone meet the root. There the infection started eating away at the bone. Lucky for Cody, all of the other radiographs were normal.
The technician started cleaning away the hard calcified tartar and plaque that had accumulated in 7 years of not brushing. Then she polished the teeth to make sure all of the microscopic etchings the scaler made on the teeth were removed. Scaling teeth, then failing to polish them, leaves a matrix of scratches on the tooth surface, giving bacteria and sugars an easy foothold on the tooth at the next opportunity (i.e. lunch). Next, the circumference of each tooth was probed to see if there were any pockets that might be harboring plaque and bacteria. Again Cody was lucky that no other teeth had been compromised.
Now it was time to deal with diseased tooth. Two incisions were made on the gum line at both ends of the tooth. The gum was pushed back to expose the supporting bone (jaw). You could see the hole through the jaw that was where the tooth was abscessed. The overlying bone was removed with a high power drill. This particular molar only had 2 roots. The tooth was sectioned into both roots. If the tooth wasn’t sectioned prior to trying to loosen it from the periodontal ligament, it would have been easy to fracture his jaw. After sectioning and breaking down the ligament, the tooth roots were easily removed from the socket. The socket was flushed and a bone-building polymer was placed in the socket. Failure to do so would have left a weak spot on Cody’s jaw making it possible to fracture. Then the gum line was sutured closed. Cody received more pain medications, and then was woken up from his anesthesia. Fifteen minutes later he was standing up and wagging his tail, hoping for something to eat.Cody went home to finish his antibiotics and pain medications. If this is all the work Cody’s teeth receive, he’ll likely need another cleaning in a few years. If he’s able to have his teeth brushed 3-4 times per week or use a plaque barrier weekly, he may not need his teeth cleaned again for many more years.
Home care really can make all the difference in keeping teeth clean and healthy and if not avoiding, at least spreading out times between “dentals”.
Throughout the month we’ll be giving away FIVE goody bags of dental treats that will make your pet grin. The bag will include CET chews, CET toothpaste and a toothbrush, Oravet and 3 toothbrushing coupons (typically used during grooms or boarding). (BTW, CET stands for Clean Every Tooth!)
First off, anyone who schedules their pet’s dental cleaning during the month of February will be entered into a drawing for one of the treat bags. ALSO, for the month of February, when you have your pet’s dental cleaning, you’ll receive a coupon for a special price on the next one – dogs for $200 and cats for $125*.
Then…each week we’re going to have a trivia contest. We’ll post our dental questions on our Facebook page, and then draw a winner from all the correct responses. And HOW will you know the answers? From surfing around our website, of course! We’ll be posting questions all through the month, and we’ll draw one winner each week.
You can answer as many questions as you like, which will increase your chances of winning, but you can only win the trivia contest one time.
Finally, watch your email, this website and the Facebook page for some fun facts and stories about your pet’s dental health. This week we’ll be sharing an absolutely delightful story called “Cody’s Big Dental Day”, written by Dr. King. See if you don’t agree with us that she should turn the story into a book!
So get on the phone and call us to schedule that dental cleaning. And then, watch for question #1. You never know when it will pop up!
*Coupon must be used within 6 months of issued date.