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
- Bad breath
- Excessive drooling
- Changes in eating or chewing habits
- Pawing at the face
- Loose teeth
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.
Schedule your pet’s dental exam today! We can also help show you how to brush your pet’s teeth and recommend foods and treats that will help combat plaque and tartar buildup.
What To Expect During a Dental Procedure
The night before a dental procedure you will fast your pet. They will not be able to have food after 8 pm or water after midnight.
You will drop your pet off at Family Pet Health Center the morning of the procedure between 8 am and 9 am. Our staff will need your contact information at this time so that we can call you with updates.
Our staff will take your pet and begin monitoring them prior to the procedure. If we have recommended fluids then the catheter will be placed and fluids will be started.
Once the doctor is ready for the procedure your pet will be sedated with anesthetics. They will be closely monitored during the procedure by a member of our staff.
It is very important to remember that when a pet is awake it is often very difficult to see into the mouth; once your pet is fully sedated the doctor will be able to do a full examination of your pet’s mouth. The doctor may find additional needs during this time, and a member of our staff may call you during the procedure to give you an update and request approval to do additional treatment. The doctor will only recommend extractions or additional treatment when he or she thinks that it is necessary for the comfort of your pet. Our goal is to send your pet home with a mouth that is 100% bacteria free.
During the procedure, our team will work to clean your pet’s entire mouth. In addition to cleaning and polishing the surface of the teeth, we will also work to remove bacteria, plaque, and tarter from below the gum line and in between teeth. If the doctor finds rotted or infected teeth they will recommend extractions; this will only be done if the doctor feels that it is in the best interest of the pet.
Once the procedure is complete your pet will be monitored by a member of our staff during recovery. A member of our staff will call you at this time to give you an update on how your pet is doing.
Most pets are able to come home with their owners the same afternoon. When you receive your post-procedure phone call our staff will let you know what time to plan on picking your pet up.
Many pets are back to normal the same night! You will be able to offer them food and water once they are home with you. When the doctor extracts infected teeth it is very common for your pet to actually be more lively and comfortable than when they came in for the dental procedure.
Our Doctors also recommend that you maintain at-home dental care for your pet, too. Click here for information on how to keep your pet’s teeth clean at home and help them live a happy, healthy life!
Our #1 Goal is to send your pet home with a mouth that is 100% bacteria free!
Heart disease can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF), which occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood effectively. If an animal is suffering from CHF, fluid usually accumulates in and around the lungs and sometimes in the abdomen. Congenital heart disease (animals born with a heart problem), valvular heart disease (abnormalities of the heart valves), arrhythmias (rhythm disturbances), and heartworm disease can all lead to CHF.
Call us if your pet starts breathing rapidly or coughing, loses his or her appetite, tires easily, seems weak, or has trouble exercising. We can discover many heart problems during a physical exam. Additional tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), radiographs (x-rays), and ultrasounds, are usually needed to accurately identify the cause of the heart disease or failure.
We may use this imaging technique in conjunction with radiography (x-rays) and other diagnostic methods to ensure a proper diagnosis. Interpretation of ultrasound images requires great skill on the part of the clinician.
The ultrasonographer applies gel to the surface of the body and then methodically moves a transducer (a small handheld tool) across the skin to record images of the area of interest. The gel helps the transducer slide more easily and create a more accurate visual image.
The transducer emits ultrasonic sound waves, which are directed into the body toward the structures to be examined. The waves create echoes of varying degrees depending on the density of the tissue and amount of fluid present. Those waves create detailed images of the structures, which are shown on a monitor and recorded for evaluation.
Ultrasound does not involve radiation, has no known side effects, and doesn’t typically require pets to be sedated or anesthetized. The hair in the area to be examined usually needs to be shaved so the ultrasonographer can obtain the best result.
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.
If not treated immediately (within hours to days), glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness. Pets that have suffered eye injuries should have this test performed. In addition, we recommend that breeds that are prone to developing glaucoma come in for regular measurements so we can monitor eye pressure and begin treatment before any problem becomes irreversible. Please call us to discuss whether your pet may be at higher risk for glaucoma.
Call us right away if you notice any of the following problems in either or both of your pet’s eyes: dilated (enlarged) pupils, clouding of the cornea (the normally clear outer layer of the eye), red or bloodshot eyes, one eye protruding or appearing larger than the other, squinting, or tearing. Because glaucoma is painful, your pet may react by rubbing or pawing at the eyes or rubbing his or her head against the floor or furniture more than normal.