Help! One of My “K9s” is Loose!

Dental Health MonthFebruary is dental month! Have you been considering having your pet’s teeth cleaned but are hesitant to schedule it? Well this happens to be the best month to do so because every dental procedure (including extractions) done at Norwalk Animal Hospital this month will have a 10% discount applied!

**This discount also applies throughout the year if a dental procedure is scheduled within one month of recommendation. **

Periodontal disease, although a very common finding on most physical examinations, is often more prevalent in smaller dogs, cats, and older animals. Since animals can’t brush their teeth daily like humans, calculus builds up over the years, entraps bacteria, and causes inflammation of the gum tissue, or gingivitis. Typically, the smaller the animal, the more crowded the oral cavity and the more likely they are to develop dental disease; however, it can be seen in animals of all ages and sizes.

Periodontal disease can be difficult to assess in your own pets since many animals are not amenable to having their mouths opened, especially if they are uncomfortable. The first thing you may notice is a bad smell coming from their mouths, drooling, or decreased appetite. Teaching animals to enjoy having their teeth brushed (especially at a young age) is an important step to preventing dental disease and being able to evaluate your pet’s mouth regularly. Finding a specific toothpaste flavor that your animal enjoys can make them think of daily brushing as a treat! Pet-friendly toothpaste and brushes are available at Norwalk Animal Hospital.

Here are some tips for teaching your pet to enjoy having their teeth brushed. Be sure to give them plenty of praise during each step!

  1. Place some pet-friendly toothpaste on your finger and have your pet lick it off to make sure they enjoy the flavor.
  2. Using a finger, get your pet used to the sensation of having the toothpaste rubbed on their gums.
  3. Place some toothpaste on a finger brush or toothbrush and allow your pet to lick the paste off it.
  4. Introduce the brush into your pet’s mouth while moving it in a circular motion against their teeth.
  5. Teaching your pet a command, such as “Brush,” before doing the deed can help increase responsiveness and make it more exciting for the pet.

Dogs are often more willing to having their teeth brushed when compared to cats. Do not be discouraged if this cannot be done at home or if it causes too much stress for your pet.

Dental procedures must be completed under general anesthesia to be done accurately and allows us to better evaluate the extent of periodontal disease and treat it accordingly. At Norwalk Animal Hospital, every animal is closely monitored by trained veterinary technicians during procedures that require sedation or anesthesia.

When teeth are broken, the center of the tooth, or “pulp,” is often exposed which promotes bacteria to build-up and that tooth to die. Discoloration can sometimes, but not always, be a sign that a tooth is dead as well. Unassessed periodontal disease can sometimes lead to abscess formation of tooth roots and increased discomfort for the animal. Dental x-rays are routinely taken of mobile and fractured teeth to help evaluate the jaw bone and allows us to decide whether the tooth needs to be removed to promote future oral health.

Cats tend to develop resorptive lesions, which means that their body tries to absorb teeth. The gingiva, or gum tissue, surrounding the tooth is typically very red and irritated and is often very painful when probed. It is unclear what causes these lesions but tooth extraction, or crown amputation (removing the part of the tooth above the gum line) is curative. However, cats that present with these lesions at one point in their life will often develop more in the future. Dogs can develop these lesions as well, however, it occurs much less often.

Please contact Norwalk Animal Hospital today to schedule your pet’s dental procedure!