- 3 months ago
Dealing with canine dental disease
01 Anaesthesia is essential for clean teeth
You may have seen anaesthesia-free dentistry advertised and wondered why we don't offer this as an option for your pet.
We'd love to be able to say "open wide" but this isn't possible in the veterinary dental world! Without an anaesthetic it is impossible to perform a thorough examination of your pet's mouth, and there is simply no way we can correctly diagnose or treat dental problems while your pet is awake.
Any dental procedure done without an anaesthetic can have a negative psychological impact on your pet as it is likely to cause your pet unnecessary pain.
The worst thing is, anaesthesia-free dentistry can potentially mask serious underlying disease and lead to complications in the future.
When a pet is anaesthetised, we are able to look for any hidden problems and potential sources of pain. Radiographs can be taken and the teeth can be safely probed with special dental instruments, a critical part of a dental procedure.
While your pet is asleep, we thoroughly clean their teeth including the area under the gums. It is essential to understand that this cannot be done correctly if your pet is awake. Removing only the calculus that is visible on the tooth (as done in anaesthesia-free dentistry) is purely cosmetic. This technique is ineffective because it does not fix the source of the problem or enable healing and reversal of the dental disease.
You can read more about why anaesthesia-free dentistry is not appropriate for your pet on the Australian Veterinary Association website.
If you have any questions about your pet's dental health just ask us - we are always here to help.
02 How do I know if my pet needs to see the dentist?
If your pet has stinky breath it's important to realise that this is not normal.
Don’t be tempted to simply turn your head away as bad breath can be a sign that your pet is suffering from dental disease, a sneaky condition that likes to creep up on your pet.
As the disease progresses, plaque and tartar build up around the teeth leading to an inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Eventually the gum separates from the tooth and small pockets of bacteria accumulate.
You should not ignore this disease. It is painful and can impact the overall health of your pet as the bacteria enter the bloodstream and make their way around your pet's body.
Signs of dental disease include:
- Bad breath
- Redness of the gums
- Drooling from the mouth
- A loss of appetite or weight loss
Sometimes the signs are subtle and you may not notice anything at all. This is why regular check-ups with us are so important as during any routine examination we will always examine your pet's mouth to rule out the need for further intervention.
If we diagnose dental disease early enough, we can implement a treatment plan and slow the progression of this condition. Your pet will be healthier and you will be able to be kissed by your furry friend without being hit in the face with doggy breath!
We are always here to answer any questions you might have about your pet's dental health.
03 Rocky's tooth problem
Meet Rocky the cat. Rocky loves spending his days on the couch, waiting for his humans to arrive home and feed him his dinner. We will be following Rocky's health journey over the next few months and today we'd like to fill you in on his visit to the dentist.
Rocky recently had a dental procedure performed under general anaesthesia to clean his teeth. At the time it was discovered that one of Rocky's teeth had a specific problem known as a feline resorptive lesions (FRL). Up to 60% of cats may suffer from this painful condition by the time they are 6-years old.
What is a FRL and what causes them?
In a FRL, the tooth is eaten away, leading to exposure of the sensitive pulp of the tooth. They used to be referred to as 'feline cavities' but this is not really an accurate description as they are not caused by the presence of plaque and tartar or from eating too many lollies!
The cause of FRLs is still unknown. There are several theories about what causes resorption of the tooth, but none of these theories have been conclusive.
How are they diagnosed?
FRL are sometimes visible as a little red spot on the tooth and are sensitive to touch. There may also be erosion of the crown of the tooth. In some cases, there are no visible changes to the tooth and the only way to detect a FRL is to perform and look for changes on dental radiographs.
Why is extraction necessary and what about ongoing care?
FRLs will progress and continue to be painful if they are not extracted. They can cause a cat considerable pain and cause reduced appetite and lethargy. Most cats with one FRL will develop other FRLs in the future so regular dental check-ups, dental cleans under anaesthetic and dental radiographs are important in these cats.
We are pleased to say that Rocky's painful tooth was extracted and he is making an excellent recovery. He will need regular dental check-ups in the future to make sure he doesn't get any more FRLs but for now he is snuggled up on the couch again waiting for his dinner!
If your pet hasn't had a dental check-up for a while you should call your vet and arrange an appointment to rule out any issues.
04 Protect your pet against the flu
Have you ever wondered if your pet can get the flu? The answer is yes. But unlike the dreaded flu season for humans, dogs and cats can suffer from their version of the flu year-round. The good news is that your pet can't catch the human flu, and vice versa.
The dog version of the flu is known as Canine Cough (often incorrectly referred to as "Kennel Cough".)
Canine Cough is a highly-contagious disease that is passed from dog to dog by moisture droplets. It is possible for your dog to potentially become infected from another dog at the park, not just boarding kennels. Vaccination is simple, effective and given annually. The vaccination protects against the worst strains of the disease (the ones that can cause pneumonia) but it's important to realise that your dog can still contract milder forms of the disease. These dogs may only require a short course of antibiotics to help them recover.
Cat Flu is commonly caused by a herpes virus. It is also highly contagious and can cause severe illness, especially in kittens or elderly cats or cats with a compromised immune system. Vaccination is highly effective, and while it won't always prevent cats from developing flu, it helps reduce the severity of the condition and reduces shedding of the virus, decreasing the likelihood of transmission to other cats. This vaccination must be given annually.
Make sure your pet is up to date with their vaccinations to make sure they stay happy and healthy.
05 Have you tried this trick on your dog?
The latest viral sensation on the internet is pet-related. It's called the 'What The Fluff Challenge' with owners pranking their dogs with a 'magic trick' and sharing the results online. Check out the hilarious prank here.