Goldenvale News

Archive for the 'Dental Disease' Category

The Physical Exam

The Physical Exam – What Exactly Are We Looking For?


Once a year, we call you up, ask you to load your crew (dog, cat, or multiples of both) into the car and head over to see us for your pet’s Annual Physical Exam. You come, we poke and prod for a few minutes, ask some questions, update their vaccines, and maybe take a blood sample. Sometimes I think we forget to take the time to really tell you what we are checking for, so here is a break down.



Greeting Heidi

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Breed Feature: The Pomeranian

It’s so FLUFFY!!” – First words out of almost anyone’s mouth when they meet a Pomeranian for the first time. Pomeranians (or “Poms”) are toy breed dogs (4-7.5 lbs full grown) that descend from the Spitz breeds – double coated dogs originating from northern Europe. Poms in particular, started in Northern Germany, and gained in popularity after Queen Victoria took a liking to them. They have small ears that stand straight up, and a (relatively) long tail that curls around on top of their hindquarters. They come in a variety of colours from all white, to sable (a sandy, blonde colour), black and tan, solid black and almost everything in between.


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The Mystery of the Disappearing Teeth!

Recently, we had one of our feline patients come in to get a limp checked out.  Art, a middle aged Domestic Shorthair had some arthritis in his knee causing his limp (arthritis in cats is a separate blog post all together, and we will be addressing it in a few weeks) but when Dr. T checked his mouth (as part of her routine exam) she found something much more worrisome.  Art had large holes in his teeth… and in some cases, entire teeth were just … missing!  Read more …

Never Too Old To Get A Fresh Start!

We received this beautiful card from Lucky’s dad today!

We want to thank him for putting his confidence in us so we could help Lucky stay happy and healthy!



February is Pet Dental Month – Prevention of Peridontal Disease – Professional Dental Cleaning

It is recommended that a full dental cleaning by your veterinarian be done for your pets every 6 months – just the same as your dentist recommends for you.  This is in addition to your daily home care.  Just as you brush your teeth every day between dentist visits so should you brush your pet’s teeth every day.  With proper home care your pet may not need that 6 month dentistry thereby saving you the expense and your pet the anesthetic.



As soon as you notice tartar accumulation or bad breath it is time for a professional cleaning.  Waiting will only allow more time for the inflammation/infection of the gum to worsen and spread and make the time under anesthesia more prolonged.  Unfortunately anesthesia is always required to adequately assess and clean all surfaces of all the teeth, both above and below the gum line.  In addition, anesthesia eliminates all discomfort from the procedure and allows the placement of a breathing tube into the windpipe so bacteria do not enter the lungs.

Modern veterinary medicine offers a wide array of safe and effective anesthetics with monitoring equipment that allay previous concerns of anesthesia.  Today’s anesthetics are dramatically safer than those of even a few years ago.  Preanesthetic blood testing will determine if your pet is a candidate for the anesthesia.  The risks of a constant infection in the mouth are far greater than the risks of anesthesia, even in older pets.

So check your pet’s teeth – today.  If you see a yellow or brown accumulation on the tooth surface or a red line at the tooth-gum junction or a bad odour then call your veterinarian to make an appointment to have your pet’s teeth evaluated.  It is never too late and no pet is too old to have a healthy mouth.

February is Dental Month – Prevention of Peridontal Disease – Tooth Brushing

Last time we discussed the importance of home dental care with tooth brushing being the  cornerstone  of  your home dental care program.  The following tips may help you to be successful  with encorporating  the brushing of your pet’s teeth into your daily routine.



Remember , this should be fun for you and your pet.  Try not to overly restrain your dog and keep sessions short and positive.  Use lots of praise and rewards throughout the process.  Pick an area of the home that is comfortable for you and your pet and always go to this spot when you’re ready to brush his teeth.

  1. First, have your pet get used to the taste of the toothpaste.  Let him lick some off your finger and praise him when he licks the paste.  If your pet doesn’t like the taste you may need to try one of the other flavours. Do this several times a day for a few days.
  2. Next try rubbing the toothpaste with your finger against his teeth and gums.  Just try this initially on the front teeth and upper canine teeth which are the easiest teeth to get at.  Don’t forget the praise and perhaps one of his most favourite tasty treats.
  3. Attempting the toothbrush comes next.  Your pet needs to get accustomed to the texture of the bristles so let him lick the toothpaste off the brush.  Use lots of praise and ending with a tasty treat will reward his good behaviour.  Don’t rush this step – carry on for about a week.
  4. Now you’re ready to start brushing.  Gently lift the upper lip and place the brush at about a 45 degree angle to the gum line.  Don’t get hung up on the angle – 45 degrees gives the best cleaning but even with the tip of the bristles flat against the tooth will work.  Move the brush back and forth gently.  Start with the large upper canine teeth and as he accepts this motion try moving toward the back teeth.  The upper teeth attract the most plague so concentrate on this area.  Remember to use lots of praise and an upbeat tone of voice.  Don’t worry about trying to brush the inside surface of the teeth which lies against the tongue.  This surface is much too difficult to get at and the movement of the tongue usually keeps the plague off this area.  Always end with praise and a special reward.
  5. You are now brushing your pet’s teeth!  Give him a big hug and yourself a pat on the back.  You are doing a great thing for your pet and hopefully having fun while doing it.


Next up – the scoop on professional teeth cleaning

February is Dental Month – Prevention of Peridontal Disease – Home Dental Care

Home dental care and regular professional cleanings performed by your veterinarian are the best gifts you can give to your pet.  Without them, plague turns into tartar leading to gingivitis     (inflammation of the gums), followed by periodontitis (loosening of the teeth).  Gingivitis if treated early can be cured.  Periodontitis in pets, on the other hand, can only be controlled and not cured.  In addition to loose teeth and pain, the infection in the mouth associated with periodontitis can spread to other organs especially the kidneys and valves of the heart.


The Toothbrush – Daily brushing is the key to dental home care.  Just as with your own teeth, nothing beats brushing.  The toothbrush bristles are able to reach between teeth and under gums.  Finger brushes are also available for those of you who can’t get your dog to accept a toothbrush.

Toothpaste – Enzymatic pet toothpastes are excellent for helping to reduce plaque and freshening the breath.  It is very important not to use human toothpastes as these contain sudsing agents which are not expected to be swallowed and could upset your pet’s stomach.  Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of flavours – mint and poultry seem to be the favourites.

Dental Treats – Dental treats are also very beneficial to  reduce plague and remove tartar.  Many treats contain an ingredient called hexametaphosphate which has been proven to bind to calculus and help to soften it.  The abrasive action of a hard treat such as “Greenies” or a high quality rawhide chew then scrapes away the softened tartar.  Remember to always supervise your dog when giving chew treats and throw out the rawhide chews when they get reduced  to a size which can be swallowed.  Never give real animal bones to your pet.  They are totally undigestible – the way it goes in is the way it comes out.  Also broken teeth are a common consequence.

Dental Diets – Realizing that daily brushing of your pet’s teeth is not the easiest routine to master, some therapeutic diets have been developed to actually scrape off the tartar with each bite.  The individual kibbles are manufactured in such a way to allow the pet’s tooth to puncture the kibble without the kibble breaking up and then as the tooth pulls out the tooth is mechanically scraped.  Makes dental home care pretty easy now, doesn’t it!

RECOMMENDATION:  If your pet is over a year of age and you are just starting your dental home care see your veterinarian before you begin.  If your pet has more advanced dental disease your vet can advise you on the best course of action.


Up Next – How To Start Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

February is Dental Month – Get Your Pets’ Teeth Checked!

Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats

 If you were asked to name the most common disease of adult dogs and cats, what would you answer?   Heart disease, lung disease, liver or kidney disease?  Well, if you said dental disease, you would be correct.  Actually dental, or periodontal disease, can affect all of these other organs. Studies indicate 85% of our adult pets have some degree of periodontal disease and small breeds of dogs are closer to 98%! 

This disease begins with the formation of plaque, which is a transparent adhesive fluid composed of saliva, food particles, and bacteria.  Plaque can form in the human mouth within 2 hours of a dental cleaning.  Plaque can form in only 2 to 5 days after a dental cleaning in our dogs and cats.  Some dogs and cats are more susceptible to periodontal disease than others, because they produce more plague on their teeth, same as with people, largely due to genetics.   If plaque is not removed by daily brushing, the mineral salts in saliva will precipitate and form hard dental calculus, or tartar.  The tartar inflames the gums and allows bacterial organisms to grow and cause further inflammation.  This inflammation causes swelling of the gum tissue that traps more bacteria below the gum line.  The bacteria damages the attachment of the gums to the teeth and eventually leads to destruction of the bone and the tooth falls out. 

Even though this destruction of tissue and bone may take 2 to 5 years, the pet will be in significant pain due to the inflamed gum tissue and infection this entire period of time.  Also, it is important to realize this infection can be absorbed directly into the blood stream and can be transported to the liver, kidneys, lungs, spine, and commonly the heart.         (information in this article is provided by Bob Judd D.V.M.)

As February is Pet Dental Month stay tuned for the specifics of prevention of periodontal disease.