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Why Does My Pet Need a “Dental”?

“Who ever heard of doing an entire dental for your pet?”

“It is hard enough to get yourself to the dentist’s office, and we never used to have to bring animals in for dental procedures!”

“This is just a scam for more money.”

These are just some of the things you have probably heard or thought, so let’s sit down and have a conversation about pet dental procedures, what they entail, and why they are important for the health of your best friend with fur.

Let’s Start with the Why

Why is it that now it seems the veterinarians always want to bring up doing a dental? Why do I need it now, but previously no one really mentioned dental work on pets? The simple answer to this is simply that medicine is always changing and improving. The best reason I can give you is that it is one of the best ways to make sure our furry friends are healthy and happy.

Most adult animals will have periodontal disease by the age of 2 or 3. Humans would as well, but we started human dental hygiene to improve our own quality of life. We started brushing our teeth and having regular dental checkups, and now it is a regular thing. It is the same idea with your furry friends. They cannot brush their teeth on their own so having us brush their teeth or using dental food is a great way to try and prevent periodontal disease! We will talk more about periodontal disease in a later post.

Bacteria and Dental Disease in Pets

If enough plaque and tarter build up on our pet’s teeth it will change the pH balance in your pet’s mouth. This change can cause bacteria to grow and cause infections. These bacteria will be under the gum line (aka sublingual) so it can’t be seen with the naked eye. If this bacterium is left there long enough and unnoticed, it will mean that there is potential for bone loss and destruction causing tooth loss and systemic disease and it will affect the entire body instead of just the mouth.

Cats in particular are one of the most overlooked for dental disease. However, cats have many problems, such as tooth reabsorption, stomitis, oral cancer, tooth fractures, and more.

How Can I Prevent the Need for Dental Procedures?

Dentals are expensive. That is why we like doing preventatives as much as possible! Making sure you can brush your pets’ teeth, giving them dental food to chew on, and making sure they have the right toys that will not harm their teeth are very important in preventing the need for dental work. Preventative products can be found at Veterinary Oral Health Council.

My Pet Needs a Dental. What Happens Next?

If you and your veterinarian decide that a dental is a good route to take, this is what you can expect and what should be included.

All dentals should be done under general anesthesia. This allows for proper tooth-by-tooth examinations and dental radiographs. Then the veterinarian or veterinary technician will start by probing each tooth to check for pocket depth. 1-2mm pockets would be normal, but anything larger can create a home for bacteria to live sublingually. This will be recorded in a dental chart. Then the amount of tarter, plaque, and other abnormalities will be recorded in the dental chart. After the oral exam, there should be full mouth radiographs to assess each tooth below the gum line to look for any non-obvious problems. This will help your veterinarian decide what steps will need to be done next. If it is necessary to extract any teeth, a local block will then be applied and problematic teeth will be removed by your veterinarian. Once this step is completed, the veterinarian or veterinary technician will then begin to scale and polish the teeth. Scaling will remove any remaining tarter or plaque, and polishing will fill in any marks made by the scaler.

This is the basic dental procedure, but what if you don’t want to extract the teeth or your pet needs advanced dental procedures that your regular veterinarian can not do? There are many veterinarians that have taken extra courses to help their dental patients and written exams to become dental specialists. This means if it is needed, you can be referred for more advanced dental work, including root canals, braces, crowns, caps, periodontal surgery, and more! However, if this service is required, it can take a long time for this referral, and you may have to travel.

The bottom line: pet dental hygiene is just as important as our own. I am sure everyone knows what tooth pain feels like, and our furry friends don’t like it any more than we do. Preventatives are always cheaper than surgery, so do as much as you can to help them.

Written by: Ashley, VT


Resources:Veterinary Partner –



How to make medication request hassle-free!

Getting your requests to your veterinarian can be quite a process, especially when you are uncertain about the necessary information we need to fulfill the request. Let’s take this opportunity to review the information required and help you understand why it's helpful in ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience. What do I need to know before I make a prescription request?   There are 5 important pieces of information you'll need to have ready to relay to your veterinary team when requesting a prescription. Medication name Medication concentration Medication dose Medication instructions Quantity you need Let me explain what each one is and why we need it. This information can all be found on your pet's medication label.  Medication Name – This is simple enough; it is the name of your medication, and yes, it is very important. If you call and say you want to refill Fluffy’s eye medication, this won’t help us if they are on 3 different eye medications. Knowing the name of your pet’s medication can be the difference between the correct refill and the wrong refill. Medication Concentration – All medications come in many concentrations, and we want to ensure that your pet gets the correct one to avoid the risk of over- or under-dosing. The concentration is either written as milligrams, mg/mL or a percentage. Pills and tablets can be things like 2.5mg, 10mg, etc. Liquids will be in forms such as 20mg per ml, 200mg/ml, etc., and other medications, such as eye ointments, may say something like 2%. Medication Dose – The dose indicates how much of the medication your pet should be given and how often—for example, 1 tablet every 12 hours or a 1/4″ strip 3 times a day. Medication Instructions – We don't have the exact wording of your label, but we need to know how you are giving the medication currently. This may sound something like I give 1 pill in the morning and 2 pills in the evening or I give 3 units every 12 hours, etc. If what you are giving is different from what is on your medication label, then tell us what you are currently giving and why. It is not recommended to change medication instructions without speaking to your veterinarian.   Quantity You Need – To ensure you have the supply uu need and avoid multiple trips, please be sure to know what amount(s) of your pet's medication(s) you need. This may be given as a number amount, such as 30 pills or the length of time the medication needs to last,  such as 30 days worth. If you tell us 1 bottle, it doesn't necessarily help us as many medications come in multiple-sized bottles. TIP: Create a folder in your phone’s photo album called Medications, take pictures of your pet’s medication labels, and place them in there for quick access!   Keep in mind that your veterinarian pharmacy, like all other pharmacies, will need time to fill your medication. We kindly ask that you give us 24-48 hours' notice for filling medications as our veterinary staff are very busy and may not always have time to fill medications same-day. TIP: If you are like me and have trouble remembering to get medications refilled on time until you use the last one, there's an APP for that!   If it's a regular medication - there is an app called medisafe that lets you track medications and can be used for pet medications as well. You can set custom notifications to remind you when to refill your medication, such as when you have 5 pills left. If the medication is your pet’s flea and tick medication, check out the app "Flea & Tick"  (iPhone) (Android). This app allows you to track when you last gave your pet their last dose and upload a photo of your medication so you always have what it is at your fingertips. Lastly, look for things your clinic may have, such as QR codes on your medication bottles to help remind you to refill when you run low or website pages like ours (Pharmacy Requests) to make it easier for you to request your medication. Stayed tuned for Part 2.   Written by: Ashely G, VT

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