At AMCOP, we firmly believe that proper dental care is essential to the long term health and comfort of not only our patients, but our own pets. Our veterinary team feels very passionate about addressing dental care before it gets to the point of pain, discomfort and infection. We are also very well equipped to give your pet relief, when he is experiencing severe dental disease.
All of the doctors at AMCOP meticulously brush and floss their pets teeth daily, usually after they brush their own teeth. Their pets all look forward to this special treat!
Who are we kidding? Like you, our docs experience the same overwhelmingly busy lives and obligations. We’re lucky to brush our own teeth, and those of us with human kids, theirs, too.
Not to say that brushing isn’t important, quite the opposite: it makes a huge, huge difference in the pet’s oral health. Dogs and cats that get their teeth brushed daily have astonishingly beautiful teeth and require much less invasive and expensive dental care than those that don’t. We strongly encourage you to brush your pets’ teeth: it’s just that in the real world, most of our clients just can’t (And no, that $5.00 “teeth cleaning” that the groomer or pet salon does is NOT the same as a comprehensive professional veterinary cleaning.)
We at AMCOP understand our pets need dental care, so we brush when we can, we employ methods like water additives, dental chews, wipes and toys and definitely, annual or biannual dental examinations and cleanings. These are the same things that we recommend to our clients.
What Exactly is a Professional Veterinary Teeth Cleaning?
Yearly veterinary dental evaluation and cleaning is the one thing that our doctors don’t skimp on with their own pets. Every day the docs see the result of inadequate care and it’s professionally heartbreaking because it’s so preventable. Dogs and cats with infected, painful, malodorous mouths, their organs showered with toxic bacteria every time they take a bite of food because of the extensive periodontal disease and bone loss in their mouths.
A “dental cleaning” is more accurately referred to as a “COHAT”, or Comprehensive Oral Health Exam and Treatment. Anesthesia is required for this procedure to be done correctly. The reason we have to do this under anesthesia, is that no pet will willingly submit to a scrupulous oral examination, cleaning and treatment without it. Simply put, “non anesthetic dental cleanings” can never be as thorough as one done with anesthesia. We wanted them to be, we even tried them for a brief time on our own pets, but we were not happy with the results, or the fear and discomfort our pets experience when going through it.
We understand that the anesthesia part of this is scary.
However, we take stringent measures to ensure the utmost in safety for your pet. No pet undergoes anesthesia without a complete pre-operative examination and consultation. We strongly recommend pre-anesthetic bloodwork and an ECG, if necessary, to ensure your pet is healthy enough inside and out for the procedure. We won’t hesitate to postpone the dental if anything comes back amiss. We use the safest available anesthetic drugs, customizing our anesthetic protocols for each individual pet, taking into consideration factors such as general health, weight, age, and preexisting medical conditions. Our hospital uses modern anesthetic monitors to ensure your pet has optimal heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, respiratory rate, carbon dioxide levels, body temperature, and cardiac electrical activity. Skilled technicians and your doctor are always present to make any necessary adjustments. Our doctors and staff treat every patient as if he were their own.
What Happens During a COHAT?
The first part of a COHAT is a thorough dental and oral evaluation. The veterinarian examines the entire oral cavity and every tooth, looking for cracks, cavities, resorptive lesions, missing teeth, oral masses or tumors, infection, draining tracts, ulcers and more. Once our examination is completed, our specially trained technicians may x-ray the teeth, using our state of the art digital dental x-ray unit. This allows our vets to look for disease under the surface of the gums such as abscesses, broken roots, retained teeth, dental cysts, bone tumors and more. At the completion of the examination, the vet will have the information necessary to formulate a treatment plan for your pet that may include oral surgery, extractions, and/or antibiotic gel implantation. In complex cases, referral to a veterinary dentist may be recommended for more advanced procedures such as root canals or crowns. Your veterinarian will contact you to share these recommendations as well as a detailed estimate. Together you will decide on an appropriate course of action for your pet.
Once the evaluation is completed, and the client notified of the results, the teeth are then thoroughly cleaned above and just below the gumline using an ultrasonic scaler. The scaling procedure removes plaque, tartar, infectious cells, bacteria, and pus from the teeth. When the mouth is clean, the veterinarian will then perform any necessary surgery, extractions, or treatments per their discussion with the client.
Finally, the pets teeth are polished, and fluoride is applied. A complete COHAT can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours or more, depending on the extent and severity of the dental pathology.
We recommend a dental evaluation (awake patient) every 12 months (generally as part of the annual exam). Some patients, with a predisposition to severe dental disease may need evaluations every 6 months. Based on these evaluations, we can determine the best frequency with which your pet will need a COHAT (anywhere from every 6-18 months). Frequency depends on factors such as genetics, amount of home care, severity of dental pathology, breed, etc.
Is my pet too skinny? Too fat? Should I feed grain free? High fiber? Name brand vs. boutique food? How much food should I be feeding? Human grade vs. just regular dog food grade? It’s our job to answer these and more of your pet food questions.
The nutritional management of your furry friend has gotten really confusing. Our doctors and staff can offer recommendations to help you navigate the jungle of pet food choices.
You think commercial dog food is poison and will only cook for your pet? We can help with that too, by providing you recipes for balanced diets that will ensure your pet gets the essential nutrients he needs to thrive.
Over 50% of the dogs and cats in the US are obese. Chunky, fluffy, well-padded, big boned…whatever you call it, it’s not healthy. Overweight pets are at increased risk for joint disease, respiratory issues, and diabetes. We can help formulate a custom diet plan to get your pet from pudgy to perfect in no time.
For more information on veterinary pet nutrition, please visit the American College of Veterinary Nutrition resource page.