Comprehensive Dental Care for Cats, Dogs & More
Routine dental care is a critical component of your cat or dog's oral and overall health. However, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease or other health issues of the mouth by the age of three.
At our Santa Cruz veterinary hospital, we provide complete dental care for your pet, from basics such as dental exams, teeth cleanings and polishing, to dental X-rays and surgeries.
We also make a point of providing dental health education to pet owners about home dental care for their pets.
Dental Surgery in Santa Cruz
We know that finding out that your pet needs dental surgery can be an overwhelming experience. We work as hard as we can to make sure this process is as stress-free as possible both for you and your beloved pet.
We offer root canal dental procedures, tooth extractions and gum disease treatments as well as crown impressions and placements for dogs and cats.
Pet Teeth Cleaning & Exams
Just like your own annual checkup at your dentist, your cat or dog should come in for a dental examination at least once every year. Pets who are prone to more dental problems than others may need to come in more often than that.
Companion Animal Hospital can assess, diagnose and treat dental health problems in cats, dogs and other pets.
If you notice any of the following symptoms in your pet, it's time for a dental checkup.
- Weight loss
- Tartar buildup
- Loose and/or broken teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Reluctance to play to depression
- Bad breath
- Pain or swelling in or around the mouth
- Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- Changes in how they chew or eat (slower or messier)
- Discolored teeth
- Weight loss
A thorough pre-anesthetic physical assessment will be completed for your pet before the dental exam.
We will take blood and urine analyses to ensure it's safe for your pet to undergo anesthesia. Additional diagnostics, such as dental and full-body digital radiographs may also be conducted.
Once your pet is under anesthesia, we will conduct a complete oral examination (tooth by tooth) and charting.
Next, the teeth are cleaned and polished (including under the gum line) and x-rays are taken. We then apply a fluoride treatment to each tooth.
The final step is to apply a dental sealant to prevent plaque from attaching to the enamel. If advanced periodontal disease is found, the veterinarian will develop a treatment plan and discuss it with you.
Ideally, a follow-up examination will be scheduled two weeks after the initial assessment and treatment appointment.
During this visit, we will discuss implementing teeth brushing at home. We can also recommend products that can help improve your pet's oral health.
FAQs About Pet Dental Care
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from our patients about pet dental care.
- Why do pets need their teeth cleaned?
Oral disease starts with the buildup of bacteria in your pet's mouth over time. As a consequence of this buildup, our pets can develop tooth decay, periodontal disease and more.
Just like in humans, when animals eat, bacteria build up in their mouths and combines with their saliva. As a result, plaque sticks to their teeth and can build up into tartar if not brushed away regularly.
This can lead to infections in the mouth, periodontal disease, tooth decay, and even loose or missing teeth. That's why regular dental care is essential to preventing pain or disease in the gums.
- How can I tell if my pet has oral hygiene issues?
Did you know behavior may be an indication of oral health problems? If your pet is experiencing dental problems, they drool excessively (and the drool may contain pus or blood), or you may notice them pawing at their mouth or teeth. They may also yawn excessively, grind their teeth, or stop grooming sufficiently.
Other signs of oral health problems include bad breath, swollen gums, and tooth discoloration. Some pets may even suffer from pain that keeps them from eating. Read more about symptoms to the left under Pet Teeth Cleaning & Exams.
- How can I reduce the risk of oral health issues in my pet?
The American Veterinary Dentistry Society recommends three simple steps to keep in mind when thinking about what you can do to help prevent or fight your pet's development of oral health issues.
STEP 1: Take your pet for a dental exam. Don’t wait for his annual checkup if you suspect a problem.
STEP 2: Begin a dental care regimen at home.
Your veterinarian can suggest steps that may include brushing your pet’s teeth. You can also feed your pet food that is specially formulated to combat plaque and tartar buildup. Your veterinarian can point you in the right direction.
STEP 3: Schedule regular veterinary checkups to catch things before they become serious.
- What long-term problems can poor oral health potentially cause in my pet?
Besides causing problems ranging from cavities and bad breath to severe periodontal disease, oral health issues and conditions can lead to disease in the liver, kidney, heart, and other areas throughout your pet's body.
Cysts or tumors may develop. Your pet may also not feel well in general (if you've ever had a toothache, you know how it can affect your mood!). In addition, diseases related to oral health conditions can shorten the lifespan of your pet and cause significant pain.
This is why regular dental care is so essential to animals' physical health and wellbeing.
- What happens during a pet teeth cleaning appointment?
During your pet’s regular oral exam, the vet will examine his or her mouth and look for oral health conditions or any symptoms needing treatment.
The vet will clean tartar and other debris from your cat's or dog's teeth. If cavities, gingivitis, or other conditions need to be addressed, the vet will explain these to you and provide advice on which actions you should take.
In some cases, surgery will be needed to treat serious conditions. Your pet will be provided with anesthesia before their dental procedure to ensure they are comfortable and do not experience any pain. However, special care will be needed post-surgery.
If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule a dental appointment with us.
- What should I do at home to keep my pet’s teeth clean between dental appointments?
At home, you should brush your pet's teeth on a regular basis and give them dental chew toys. These will help eliminate plaque.
Do not allow them to chew on things that will damage their teeth, such as bones, toys or objects that are too hard. Always contact your vet with any questions or concerns regarding your pet's oral health.
Veterinary Dentistry: Anesthesia & Your Pet's Oral Health
Cats and dogs don't understand what is going on during their dental procedures and will often react negatively to procedures by biting or otherwise struggling.
Similar to the anesthesia provided to nervous or anxious patients by dentists, our Santa Cruz vets provide anesthesia to all of our patients before performing dental procedures. This puts less stress on the animals and allows us to X-ray their mouth as needed.