Dentistry for Pets
Dental Disease is one of the most common diseases our dogs and cats can suffer. Just like humans, good dental hygiene and prompt treatment of dental disease are key for our pets to maintain a healthy, pain-free mouth.
How do you know if dogs and cats have dental disease?
Our vets and nurses will assess your pet’s dental health when you visit an Animal Trust clinic for their annual vaccination and health check.
You should also regularly check your pet’s mouth to look for signs of gum inflammation (gingivitis). Gingivitis is when the gum line next to the teeth appears redder than the rest of the gum, or tartar (a chalky material) is visible on your dog and cat’s teeth.
Other signs of dental disease in dogs and cats include rubbing or pawing at the mouth, bad breath, or a change in eating habits such as a reluctance to eat, dropping food when eating, or chewing strangely. If you ever suspect your pet has dental disease, you should book a free consultation with your local Animal Trust vet or nurse to have it assessed.
Pet Dental Treatment
If a vet or nurse recommends that your pet would benefit from dental treatment, your pet may need to be admitted to the surgery for a ‘dental’. Pets are admitted to the day patient ward in the morning and are looked after by our vets and nurses. Your pet may have tests before the general anaesthetic or be placed on intravenous fluids to ensure they are well hydrated.
Descaling and polishing your pet’s teeth
These techniques allow us to thoroughly clean your pet’s teeth above and below the gum line which is where bacteria tends to accumulate.
Descaling removes plaque and tartar from a dog or cat’s teeth, which can discolour and damage the teeth and gums. We also polish their teeth to smooth the tooth surface to reduce the speed at which tartar can reoccur.
Our pet dental experts use specialised dental tools to assess and clean each of the dog or cat’s teeth individually, noting any issues that we find along the way. Ultrasonic descaling is the most effective procedure to remove tartar from pet’s teeth. There may be a small amount of bleeding from the gum edge as tartar is removed, but descaling is not a painful technique. Pets can go back to eating their normal diet once they fully wake from the anaesthetic. See here for further information.
Pet Dental Extractions
A vet or nurse may be able to determine whether your pet needs to have some teeth removed (a dental extraction) by a physical examination alone, or, where it can be identified if the dog or cat’s tooth is damaged or loose. In some cases, this diagnosis may need to be confirmed by a dental X-ray or CT scan. A dental X-ray and CT scan can be used to assess teeth that may otherwise look healthy to the naked eye; however, sometimes the problem is located at the root of the tooth, which is not visible during a physical examination.
Issues which result in pet dental extraction include fractures, abscesses, cavities and lesions, all of which can be very painful if left untreated. Dogs and cats have some very large teeth and multiple roots. This reflects the evolution process as they evolved as wild animals and developed strong teeth to hunt, catch and eat prey.
Large teeth may require complex extractions, which involve drilling the tooth into smaller fragments, making it easier to remove them. In particular, large extractions may cause the gum or socket to need stitching, using dissolvable stitches. This occurs if the cavity is too large to heal by itself, and food might get impacted.
After a dental extraction, we will usually advise that dogs and cats are fed food softer than their usual diet or kibble. Dogs, in particular, should avoid chewing toys and other hard objects. Once the pet’s cavities have fully healed, they can go back to eating their normal food. See here for further information.
Caring for your pet after a dental procedure
Once we’ve finished performing the dental procedure, we take your pet to our in-patient ward so they can wake up comfortably. Once your dog or cat is ready to go home, we’ll give you a call and arrange an appointment for collection.
Upon collection, we will provide a full breakdown of the procedure that has been carried out and the details of our post-surgical advice. This advice includes after-care information on how to make sure your pet is as comfortable as possible at home, and how to minimise the chance of dental disease recurring. We’ll also go through any prescribed medication, such as painkillers which are required after extractions.
The cost of a dental procedure
We charge a fixed price for dental regardless of how many teeth need to be extracted, or the length of the procedure, so you have peace of mind as to what the dental procedure costs in advance. The price of a dental procedure includes the anaesthetic, dental surgery and the pain relief to go home with. See our prices page for more information.