Dog and cat dentistry

Health care questions and answers about puppies and dogs

Dentistry In Dogs And Cats
Questions and answers about dental procedures in dogs and cats

You might be surprised at what you see if you take a good look at your dog or cat's teeth and gums.  A dentistry procedure is often needed in a big percentage of middle aged and older dogs and cats due to a variety of dental problem.  Gingivitis means gum tissue inflammation and is closely related to and often the cause of dental problems.  From loose or broken teeth to severe gum and oral tissue inflammation and infection, dentistry for dogs and cats can be an important health enhancing procedure.    

Health care questions and answers about cats and kittens

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If your pet is sick, call your local veterinarian immediately!

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I've never even heard about doing dentistry on dogs and cats and today my veterinarian told me my 5 year old Dachshund has pyorrhea and loose teeth.  
     The dentistry procedure that's needed will cost a bundle and my dog needs to have some teeth pulled and antibiotics for several weeks.
     How is a dental procedure done in a dog or cat anyway!?


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Answer:  dentistry... dogs... cats... what is
You aren't alone... most people never even look inside their dog cat's mouth to see if there are any problems.  Pets do get gum infections, loose teeth, broken and worn teeth and even oral cancers.  These dental problems too often go unrecognized for a long time.  Dental problems can have a negative impact on the dog or cat's health.
     Your veterinarian may suggest doing a chemistry panel and CBC (complete blood count) prior to the dental procedure. The usual sequence goes like this...
     pet dental problems  The dog or cat is admitted with an empty stomach

     pet dental problems  An exam is done again and preanesthetic sedative is given
     pet dental problems  An i.v. catheter is placed and secured in a vein
     pet dental problems  A short acting injectable anesthetic given
     pet dental problems  An endotracheal tube is inserted into the "windpipe"
     pet dental problems  The patient is connected via the endotracheal tube to a gas anesthetic machine to maintain a state of light anesthesia during the procedure
     pet dental problems  The teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic instrument, then polished and sometimes a fluoride substance is swabbed onto the teeth

     During the procedure the doctor will extract any damaged or very loose teeth, clean any gingival pockets, and  inspect for oral ulcers or growths.
     After the procedure and termination of inhalant anesthesia a technician will stay with the patient until a safe awareness level is achieved (usually just a few minutes).  The endotracheal tube is removed and the patient lazily reawakens further from its little "nap".
     At home the owner will follow-up the dental procedure with home oral hygiene care products and inspections.  Many dogs never need a dentistry, some need dental procedures done annually.  Regarding future dental hygiene factors, a lot depends on individual genetic predispositions, type of food, degree of water purity available, and home care provided by the pet owners.

Doctor's Notes
     It is interesting to  note that many breeds of dogs and cats are prone to oral hygiene problems.  Other breeds seldom have dental issues.
Breeds prone to dental problems:
   Toy Poodles

It is rare for  Golden Retrievers and other large breeds to have severe tartar buildup and gingivitis.

Type of food fed whether kibbled, dry, moist or soft moist does not always correlate with the development of tartar and gingival problems.

veterinary technician doing a dentistry on a dog
Trained technicians assist with
 the dentistry procedures

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Click on an image to view a larger version in a new window

 dental dog deciduous dental cat teeth dog 4th premolar abscess dog 4 premolar fracture
A dog with retained 
deciduous (baby) teeth
Tick with skin cells still in its mouth parts from attachment to a dog Your back yard may harbor
 fleas and ticks 
Even puppies can 
get Lyme Disease
oral hygiene in dogs dental dogs dental plaque on a dog dogs and dental disease
This image shows a Greyhound with chronic gingivitis and periodontal disease The base of this lower right canine
 tooth shows early tartar formation.  
Do you see any growths?
This is a good view of plaque formation that if allowed to remain will surely evolve into tartar (calculus) You have to just lift the lip to see
 how bad dental problems can 
be in dogs and cats.
Extracted infected premolar tooth from a dog Cat dentistry Loose, dislocated canine tooth in a cat Early tartar formation on a cat's upper premolar
An infected, loose, extracted premolar tooth from a dog Dentistry on a cat or dog requires careful attention to patient safety details Arrows point to a dislocated canine tooth, tartar buildup and infected debris at the gingival margin Early gingival recession from tartar build up will worsen over time without dental intervention

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Related questions and answers...  

I can see that my dog's teeth are worn down because she's a rock hound.  She's always digging up rocks and carrying them around.
    There doesn't seem to be any pain or soreness but should my vet do anything for the teeth?

Answer:    dog... teeth... worn...
  It is interesting to note that dogs seem to be unaffected by worn teeth, sometimes even when the root canal is showing!  If the tooth becomes infected through the root canal or the surrounding gum tissue or socket (called the alveolus) are infected there can be definite discomfort. The usual indicators of tooth or mouth problems are...
        Blood-tinged saliva
        Food avoidance
        Food dropping from the mouth while eating
        Red and sore gums
   Reluctance to hold or fetch toys
        Foul or rotten odor to the breath

     If you see a tooth that is worn down or cracked or a portion of a tooth that's missing, do mention it to your veterinarian even if the dog doesn't seem concerned.  And contact your veterinarian if there is a foul odor to the oral cavity or if you see inflamed gums.

Doctor's Notes
     In some breeds of dogs there is a fold in the lower lips below the large canine teeth.  Lipfold pyoderma, a moist, inflammed and odorous infection of this fold in the skin of the lower lips, commonly affects Spaniels and St. Bernards. 

Go to to see a number of photos of dogs and cats with various conditions and diseases.  View a few x-rays (radiographs), surgery images and parasites, too.

Visit The American Veterinary Dental Society


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