Harry’s dental visit and the importance of caring for your pets teeth!
Harry the five-year-old spaniel is described by his loving owners as “A beautiful personality, a handsome boy” and we at City Road Vets would have to agree! A “…chilled out character who loves cuddles”, Harry was bred by his owners’ granddaughter from her own beloved pet spaniel, who regularly visits her son for fun times which the whole family enjoys.
When Harry visits us at the vets for his annual vaccinations, it’s no real surprise to his owners that he is relaxed and friendly. Being so well travelled, holidaying with his owners and generally going everywhere with them, Harry enjoys meeting everyone, including our team of receptionists, vets and nurses. He was booked in to see our vet Simon, who Harry’s Mum describes as “…a lovely vet, who worships dogs”. An important part of the vaccination consultation is the health check. Simon looked over Harry very closely to ensure he was in good health generally, which we’re pleased to say he was, except for one area, his mouth. Some of his teeth had a build-up of plaque covering them; after discussing dental hygiene with Harry’s owner, the decision was taken to book him in for a routine scale and polish.
At just 5 years of age, it might be surprising to some that Harry had enough plaque to require a dental; not surprising to us at all! The statistics are interesting and shocking for pet dental health; by the age of three, most dogs (and cats) will have some development of dental disease. You can see from the ‘before’ photos of Harry’s mouth, the brown plaque covering a significant proportion of the teeth. Simon noticed that where the plaque met the gum-line, some redness, indicating infection was just beginning to develop. Plaque, essentially a bacterial coating of the teeth, must be at best highly unpleasant to have in the mouth, but also commonly leads to infection of the gums. Reddened, sore, infected gums are painful and can lead to a pet choosing not to chew properly. Not uncommonly, dental disease develops significantly further, causing receding gums (exposing sensitive parts of the tooth), tooth loss, chronic pain and even bone loss of the jaw. Cats and dogs can be very stoic about the discomfort they might be experiencing; so it’s our job as veterinary professionals and owners to keep a close eye on the situation for them.
When we talk to owners about preventative dental care, we often discuss tooth brushing, a change of diet and topical treatments. Increasingly, owners are taking up the option of a scale and polish under general anaesthetic, even when there are no tooth extractions necessary, when plaque development is beyond what can be corrected by other means. These relatively short and simple procedures, in the early stages of dental disease, often save a pet from undergoing long, complicated dental procedures in older age, by which time multiple extractions are necessary. So with the decision made that Harry was to be booked in for a scale and polish, his owners saw no reason to delay.
Our team described Harry as having “…an extremely relaxed temperament” and being “…very well behaved” during his stay with us; the perfect patient. Harry spent the morning in a warm, comfortable, quiet cage and after some medications to keep him relaxed and provide pain relief, we gave him his anaesthetic. He was monitored closely by one of our highly trained and knowledgeable veterinary nurses while his teeth were individually de-scaled using our ultrasonic scaler. His teeth, gums and mouth were fully assessed by the vet now that he was unconscious and a really close inspection could be made. With the need for no extractions confirmed, each tooth was polished with special paste and our dental machine, because a smooth surface is more difficult for future plaque to adhere to.
Harry’s anaesthetic was very smooth, as was his recovery. With his pre-medications still taking affect, he recovered just as relaxed as he went to sleep. He never missed the opportunity of tasty treat, wolfing down the soft, sensitive food we fed him post-operatively.
Having caught up with Harry’s owners since, they tell us that that afternoon he was a little snoozy, not missing an opportunity to cuddle in bed with his owner who had a cold. Later that evening, however, he was described by his owner as “Flying around as if nothing had happened, enjoying his chicken and rice dinner. He had no problems whatsoever the next day!”
We know that our team care a great deal about what they do; they are skilled professionals who are patient-focussed in every way. To have Harry’s owners say that they “…couldn’t speak more highly of the whole team”, just makes us even more proud. We are pleased that Harry made a speedy recovery and that he can enjoy a healthy mouth for a good while yet, just look at the difference in the ‘before and after’ photos!