Pipps – A Story to Warm your Heart

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Pipps prior to her health issues & weight loss

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Pipps is a 13 year old cat with a new lease on life.  Pretty amazing is a great way to describe her for more than one reason.  Let’s start her story in April of 2013 when her owner brought her in because she wasn’t eating and she suddenly had lost a lot of weight*.  Pipps was jaundiced and had mild dehydration.  Dr. Barb Eatock suspected she had fatty liver and went over the options with her owner.  It was decided that she would return the next day for an ultrasound by our in-house diagnostic ultrasound expert Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe.  Ultrasound confirmed a diagnosis of fatty liver.

In a nut shell fatty liver is a form of liver disease where too much fat has entered the kidney too quickly and the body can not process it.  When cats end up with this form of liver disease they often will not eat so the next course of action for Pipps was to place a feeding tube.  The options were to place a tube in her esophagus (through the neck) or directly into her stomach.  Dr. Liebe discussed the options with Pipps’ owner and it was decided to proceed with the esophageal tube.

Although the surgery (performed by Dr. Tracy Fisher) went well, when Pipps breathing tube (from the surgery) was removed she turned blue and stopped breathing.  She was immediately intubated again, CPR was performed and she was given epinephrine.  Once Pipps stabilized the tube was again removed however Pipps was still not well oxygenated so an oxygen mask was kept on her and her chest was xrayed.  Her left lung lope looked as though there could possibly be a tumor.  Dr. Fisher contacted Pipps owner to discuss and it was decided to not proceed further with investigating the potential tumor.  Fortunately Pipps began to stabilize on her own and was steadily improving.

Pipps was kept overnight in clinic on IV fluids.  The following day she was very yellow (more jaundiced then when she first came in), depressed but responsive.  She was fed Recovery and given water through her feeding tube.  Her owner came and took her home with a guarded prognosis.. she anticipated that Pipps may not get better and it could be the end of Pipps time.  However, Pipps had other ideas!  Nine days later she was doing well  – well enough that she was eating again on her own!  It was recommended to change her food to i/d, a diet that is easy on the digestive system.   She came in, had her feeding tube removed and was looking great.  She was no longer jaundiced and she had gained a bit of weight.  Yeah Pipps!  Her owner was thrilled and relieved.

By November, however, Pipps had gained a bunch of weight on the i/d.  Definitely not good as overweight cats are at higher risk of fatty liver and her owner certainly did not want a repeat of the problem she had miraculously overcome.  Pipps’ owner had a consultation with veterinary technician Brianna and together determined it best to switch her over to Metabolic – a diet that works to increase a pet’s metabolism.  By April of 2014 Pipps had not lost any weight, although fortunately she was no longer gaining.  While in for her annual exam she was measured to determine exactly what her daily intake of Metabolic should be and she entered our Biggest Loser Challenge.  At this point Pipps owner described her as a pretty laid back cat.  She couldn’t jump up on to the counters (her owner thought in part due to her age and in part due to the weight).  She didn’t really play much, seemed like the kind of cat that just wanted to spend the day lounging – an older cats prerogative, right?

Over the course of the 6 month challenge Pipps weight lose initially was non-existent, however after 3 months she had lost 0.4kg and by the end of the challenge she had lost 0.7kg (a significant decrease for a cat) clinching the winning spot for the biggest body fat percentage lost by a cat!  Well done Pipps.  Another great success in her health challenges.

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Now Pipps has a renewed lease on life.  She is energetic and playful and surprises her owners daily.  She can get up on the counters, loves to look out the window and in fact, aids the dog in stealing food by knocking it off the shelf!

Even though she is behaving like a kitten, her owner would never complain.   Two years ago she didn’t know if Pipps would still be with them.  Her owner feels it is important for people to realize that just because your pet is older doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be playful and energetic.   It could, in fact, mean that something medically is going on that may be causing them pain or other health issues.  She recommends consulting your vet to be sure your pet is in their peak health so they get the best quality and biggest quantity of life.

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If you have any questions about your pet, if something seems maybe not quite right, please don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

*Quick weight loss in any pet is not a positive, regardless of whether they are overweight or not.  Just like in people weight loss should be intentional and slow.  If it occurs quickly and unexpected it is a sign that something is wrong.

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A Foreign Body – Why Time is Important

by: Jennifer Oldfield

The month of March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month and we have had 2 posts this month on toxins to your pet, but sometimes things that aren’t technically toxic can be just as problematic if swallowed.  Occasionally cats, but much more frequently dogs, will eat items that really aren’t intended to be edible; items such as rocks, all kinds of toys, socks, even gloves.   In many cases if the item is small they are able to pass them through their system, or they will vomit them up, but sometimes they end up caught part way through being digested and surgery becomes required to remove the item.

Grace is one such dog who required surgery.  Her story is fairly simple.  One day she threw-up a gardening glove.  Grace appeared fine but her owner exercised caution and gave her a very small meal.  She didn’t vomit again, so a bit later she gave her more food.  She ended up vomiting all of it up.  Without hesitation Grace was brought in to us.  Although Dr. Liebe could feel a foreign body in Grace’s abdomen x-rays were taken to confirm.

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Dr. Liebe got Grace into surgery right away.   The surgery only lasted 30 mins.  She was able to remove the foreign body (which turned out to be the other glove) and sew her back up without requiring any additional surgery time, thanks to Grace’s owner acting quickly and bringing her in right away.

 

Why is that time so important?  What difference would 12 or 24 hours have made?

There are 2 answers to that question:

  •  Especially quickly in cats, but certainly also in dogs, they can become sick enough that they don’t make it
  • Provided surgery can occur it is higher risk due to;
    • possible dehydration
    • abnormal blood results because the body is trying to fight what it sees as an infection
    • the tissue surrounding the foreign body begins to die (labelled in the image below as hypoxic intestine)

7___hypoxic_intestineOften the surgery to remove a foreign body is an hour or more in length.  This is due to the necessity of removing a section of the intestines, anywhere from a few inches to, on rare occasion, as much as a foot.

For your pet to have the best case scenario the sooner you get them in the better.  Our basic rule of thumb is:

  1. if you know they have eaten something they shouldn’t have, but you think they can pass it, monitor them
  2. if they are having diarrhea or vomiting they should be seen as soon as possible
  3. if they can’t keep anything down (especially water) do NOT wait any longer, they need to be seen immediately.

Ideally we will see your pet prior to getting to #3.  If your pet ate something and you are unsure if it will pass, please always call your veterinarian, they are your best source for information.

To see a video clip of part of Grace’s surgery, click here.

Dental Health is So Very Important

by: Meghan Eggertson

Managing dental disease is one of the most common and important ways in which we can relieve pain and suffering in pets. By the age of 3, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some degree of dental disease. The rate at which dental disease develops depends a lot on the individual animal’s confirmation and genetics; some animals can go several years without ever needing their teeth cleaned, while others need annual dentals to prevent the progression of periodontal disease.

moderate-gingivitisTeeth are held in place by the bones, ligaments, and gums surrounding them. Periodontal disease is the progressive loss or destruction of these tissues around the teeth, and can lead to infection and loss of teeth. The earliest sign of periodontal disease is gingivitis. This is inflammation of the gums caused by the body’s inflammatory response to plaque. Plaque is the biofilm of bacteria and their by-products, salivary components, and oral debris that accumulate on the teeth. It is what is removed during brushing. If not brushed off, plaque mineralizes to form tartar/calculus within about 24 – 48 hours, and this promotes the accumulation of even more plaque. Brushing does not get rid of tartar; it can only be removed by scaling. Gingivitis can be reversed with a proper dental cleaning. Just remember, if the gums are red, they are infected and painful!

DDD_dog_gum_diseaseAs the tartar continues to build up, it begins to push down between the teeth and the surrounding tissues. This weakens the bones and ligaments and causes the teeth to become loose and the roots to be exposed. At this point the affected teeth need to be extracted to prevent chronic pain and infection.  This is why it is recommended to do a dental cleaning under general anesthetic when gingivitis first becomes evident.

A dental cleaning under general anesthetic is a relatively safe and routine procedure that can be done at almost any age. We start with removing all the tartar off the teeth with an ultrasonic scaler that can clean both the crown of the tooth and below the gums. Once the teeth are clean, we are able to do a thorough exam using a dental probe to check for any pockets, root exposure, or lesions. Then radiographs (x-rays) are taken to see what the roots and surrounding periodontal structures look like. They can show us fractures, resorptive lesions, root infections, and bone loss that are under the gums and may not be evident during the exam. The teeth are all charted and the veterinarian decides if any need to be removed. Removing a tooth can be an extensive process because dog and cat teeth have much longer roots than human teeth. We start with cutting the tooth into its individual roots, then elevating each root separately to detach it fully from the ligaments and bone. The gums are sutured over the resulting opening(s). All teeth are polished and rinsed with an antiseptic solution to smooth the surface of the teeth and make it more difficult for plaque to build up again. Watch our video of a dental cleaning.

Cleaning teeth with a hand scaler on an awake patient is not recommended. The plaque and tartar under the gum line, which is what really causes the progression of periodontal disease, and on the inside surfaces is not removed. Therefor the teeth look clean, but dental disease continues to progress and the pet can still be in pain and lose teeth due to it. Scaling without polishing also creates an etched surface on the tooth so plaque accumulates more quickly and again promotes the progression of periodontal disease.

Home care is the most essential component in both preventing and treating periodontal disease. Brushing is the single most effective means of removing plaque and should be done on a daily basis. Introduce brushing to your pet gradually as early as possible since young animals are more tolerant; that being said, even older pets can learn to accept having their teeth brushed if you work on it slowly and make it enjoyable. Watch our video on how to brush your pet’s teeth.

Dental diets and chews encourage chewing and have either a texture that reduces the accumulation of dental deposits (Hills t/d, Veggident chews) or an enzyme coating that helps break down plaque (Royal Canin Dental, CET chews). We recommend a product with a VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval. These diets and chews should be used in conjunction with brushing. Chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse is the oral antiseptic of choice for animals. Oral rinses augment mechanical oral hygiene (ie brushing) but will not prevent gingivitis on their own. Even with proper and extensive home care, most animals will still need to have their teeth cleaned professionally (just like people!) but it will slow down the progression of dental disease and increase the time between dental cleanings.

Dental Group

Maintaining good oral health in your pet has many benefits including better smelling breath, decreased pain, and a longer lifespan. Small dogs and cats live 15-20% longer and large dogs live 10-15% longer if they receive dental care as needed throughout their life. This is because infection in the mouth may cause disease of organs throughout the body including the heart and kidneys. If you have any more questions regarding dental disease or to book an appointment for a dental exam, please contact us.

Meet Kismet…

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It is always good to give back to the community and help non-profit organizations with their cause.  A few of the other clinics in Regina have been doing spays and neuters for the Regina Humane Society once they receive so many “likes” on their Facebook pages.  We like this concept and wanted to do something similar.  We have decided to give our services of spays and neuters to Bright Eyes Dog Rescue (BEDR), a local, non-profit organization who work hard to help as many dogs as they can from near and far.  We are also utilizing our Paw It Forward Fund – which thanks to generous donations of our clients has grown to over $700 in the short time since we started back in September of last year.

Meet Kismet:kismet and pups

A lovely dog from a First Nation reserve on the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border.  Kismet and her sister Faith, both had litters of pups within days of each other.  Once they were caught, BEDR took them in.  A total of 11 puppies between the two moms!  Kismet with 7 pups and Faith with 4.  Now that the pups are old enough and it has been long enough since mom has fed the babies, it was time to take care of her needs.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks to the Paw It Forward Fund, Kismet had 2 broken teeth removed today- thank you again to the generous donors!  Our clinic also spayed Kismet and removed her rear dewclaws.  Kismet has been adopted and will be heading to beautiful British Columbia once she is healed from her surgeries.  Her sister Faith and a few of the pups are still in need of homes.  To inquire or learn more about these pups contact Bright Eyes Dog Rescue.

Faith

Faith

As we continue to do spays and neuters for BEDR, we won’t be looking for any additional likes on our Facebook page or anything else from our clients, we just simply ask that you spread the word about BEDR and continue to donate to our Paw It Forward Fund.

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Marco’s Mass

by: Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe

Marco is a 12-year-old Beagle who had a common lump known as a lipoma (fatty lump), diagnosed in 2010.  Like most lipomas it stayed a relatively stable size over several years until between September and December 2013 when it almost tripled in size.  At the size it had grown to, it put Marco’s balance off and caused him a lot of discomfort,  the lump had to be removed.

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The lump removal went quickly due to the fact that it was not invading any surrounding tissue nor near any large nerves or blood vessels.  Definitely a good thing!  Most of Marco’s surgery time was dedicated to repairing the large defect created by the mass removal.  Skin reconstruction, drains, and bandaging are all needed to get the wound healed quickly on the first try.  Large mass removal surgeries are prone to dehiscence or suture breakdown, which can require additional surgery or much longer healing time.  In Marco’s case there fortunately was lots of skin for good closure.

The mass removed was 7.5″ by 5″ by approximately 3″ high and weighed 1.38 kg (3 lbs).  This mass was 10% of Marco’s body weight!  (see our post on Facebook for images of the mass after removal).

After surgery Marco immediately felt better and is recovering well.

Update on Marco (as of January 23, 2014)

Marco was in last week for his drain removal and in today to have his staples removed.  He looks AWESOME!  His owner said he is doing fantastic at home; they noticed an increase in activity almost immediately after his surgery.

We are so pleased he is doing well and wish him a continued speedy recovery!

 

 

I found a lump… Calli’s Story

As November draws to an end so does Pet Cancer Awareness Month.  We wanted to share with you one of our patient’s story:

What happens when you are petting your animal or grooming them and you notice a lump?  It wasn’t there a month ago and suddenly there it is?  Sometimes, something that seems small and not much of anything can turn out to be something pretty major, just ask Calli…

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by: Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe

Calli is a 14-year-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.  She came to the clinic in May for a routine physical.  Her owner had noted a mass inside her right elbow first noticed one month previously.  The mass was not bothering her or unusual.  It was about 1cm in size but since few masses can be diagnosed by visual inspection, fine needle biopsy was done for initial screening.  This test is done in clinic with results usually available before the pet leaves the clinic if it does not require an additional opinion from the pathologist.  At this point many skin masses can be diagnosed as benign cysts or lipomes and no treatment may be needed so observation and monitoring is all that is required.  That was not the case for Calli however.  She had a mast cell tumour (MCT) diagnosable in clinic.  These masses can vary from low grade, slow growing to aggressively spreading and invasive.

Surgery was scheduled for the following week.  In the following 6 days before surgery the mass had almost doubled in size… a discussion about the potential prognosis, complications and options ensued due to the rapid growth.  We decided to proceed with removing the mass with the largest margins  (area cut around the mass) possible that didn’t include limb amputation.  Overall the surgery went well with some loss of muscle tissues along with the mass.

The mass was placed in formalin and sent to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon for final grading and margin assessment.   The report was available a few days later with bad news… the mass was Grade III (the highest) and some cells were present at the deep margin – meaning all the MCT cells had not been removed during surgery.  Chemotherapy and possibly limb amputation were further options for treatment.  Both Calli’s owner and I decided that such aggressive management may not be the best choice for her at her age.  So we opted for oral prednisone and observation for recurrence or spread.

Post Surgery

Post Surgery

Fortunately it has been 6 months since the surgery and Calli is still going strong with no sign of the tumour!

The best treatment for skin and soft tissue masses is early diagnosis and surgical excision.  Some masses can even be removed with a local anesthetic and no hospital stay if they are small and in a good location.  It is important to note that not all bad tumours are large or painful.  Even a very tiny mass can metastasize (spread to other areas), so the simple initial exam and fine needle biopsy can help us to get a better idea of what the mass is so we can plan if surgery is needed or we can safely leave it alone.

Calli was very lucky to have had her mass assessed early.  Another week or two with that rapid growth and removal may no longer have been an option.

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Update from Calli’s owner (November 12, 2013): We just came in and Calli was out chasing a few balls.  I am so grateful, she is 14 1/2 years old and doing very well.

Sasha’s Spay – The Surgery Process

Have you ever wondered what exactly happens once your pet has been admitted for surgery?  You’ve gone through all the options, signed the consent form, we’ve taken your loved one to set them up in a kennel and now what?

First when your pet is taken to a kennel and set up with a blanket, they get a name band ID as well as a kennel ID.  Their surgery details are written on our surgery board – all the items you have consented to are placed up on the board so all involved know what is happening with your pet that day.  Your pet will also get weighed, either prior to going to their kennel or after (depending on how much is going on up front because we want your pet to be as still as possible to get a very accurate weight).  This current weight determines the doses of sedative/anesthetic and pain medication your pet receives.

Once the veterinarian arrives she does a pre-surgical exam on your pet.  She checks temperature, heart rate, as well as general overall health of the eyes, ears, etc.  Depending on the type of surgery she also checks teeth, palpates the abdomen, and checks for testicles.  If anything is noted that was not already on your surgical consent form (such as; retained baby teeth, umbilical hernia, possible ear infection or ear mites) the doctor will make note to contact the owner before proceeding with surgery and your pet is returned to their kennel.  If you have consented to any pre-surgical blood work, the blood is draw before going back to their kennel so it can be run.

Many factors are taken into account when determining the order of surgery, including: type of surgery, contamination factors (ie bacteria from a dental cleaning), whether a patient will be staying overnight, as well as the stress level of the patients (if your pet is experiencing a lot of anxiety, they are often done earlier to allow the pre-med and anesthetic to ease their stress) once this is done the doctor calculates the amount of pre-med your pet will receive.  This is determined by weight, age, underlying medical conditions and breed.  Breed sensitivity factors are taken into account as well as any medical sensitivity notes on your pet’s file.  The pre-med includes both a sedative and pain medication.  After their pre-med injection, they are again returned to their kennel.  Once the pre-med has caused your pet to be sedated they are brought out and prepped for surgery.

Now we can follow Sasha on her journey:

A registered veterinary technologist will remain with Sasha from this moment on through recovery.  First her IV goes in and she is given injectable anesthetic to put her under.  Once she is ready she is intubated and hooked up to the anesthetic machine (which releases a mixture of anesthetic gas and oxygen).  Sasha is also hooked up to a blood oxygen and heart rate monitor.

Before her surgery site is prepped all other options the owner has consented to are performed.  In Sasha’s case she is being tattooed and microchipped for identification.

Next Sasha is prepped for her spay.  Her abdominal area is shaved, all the fur is vacuumed away and the site is sterilized.

While the veterinary technologist is prepping Sasha for her spay, the doctor – Dr. Barb Eatock in Sasha’s case – is preparing herself for surgery.  Just like in human surgery the veterinarian scrubs with a special soap to disinfect the hands and arms.  A sterilized gown and gloves are worn.  Sasha is now carefully transported into the surgery ward where she is laid on a special heating mat covered with a towel.  She is hooked up to several other monitoring devices; a blood pressure cuff, an oxygen level monitor, a monitor that is checking her respiratory rate and her release of carbon dioxide as well as a special monitor that measures her heart rate and temperature.  If needed the technologist can adjust the amount of anesthetic gas she is getting and the rate at which her IV is flowing.  She can also create an artificial breath to increase Sasha’s release of carbon dioxide or increase her oxygen level.

Once the technologist has Sasha hooked back up to the anesthetic gas and monitors, Sasha’s body is covered with sterilized surgical drapes with only a small opening in one that allows access to the surgical site.  This creates a sterile field that protects against contamination.  Using a scalpel the veterinarian makes a small incision through Sasha’s skin and all the tissue, muscles and ligaments in the abdominal wall to get to her uterus.  The incision for a spay is always made running from head to tail.  This is based on the anatomy of the body to reduce the trauma to the muscles and decrease the amount of time for healing (if cutting across the abdominal wall more muscles are cut which increases the time to heal – think of a woman who has had a c-section).  The incision is made as small as possible.  The veterinarian then uses a set of special tweezers called forceps to pull Sasha’s uterus out.  Note the special shape of Sasha’s uterus.  Unlike humans, both dogs and cats have uterus’ shaped like a Y.  Each side is called a horn and is where puppies and kittens develop during pregnancy.  The base then leads to the vaginal opening.  Hemostats are used to clamp off the ends of each horn of the uterus and to the base where they join, to reduce bleeding as they are removed.    Once the uterus has been removed the entire surgical site is sutured shut:  first dissolving sutures are placed in the interior abdominal wall, then sutures are placed in the layer of skin.  During the entire surgery Sasha is continuously monitored by the technologist and stats are recorded every 5 mins.

It is imperative that Sasha is kept as calm as possible especially in the first few days after her surgery.  If allowed to run around and jump and play like normal, it is possible for the stitches to tear and her incision would break open.  If this happens the intestines and other organs can come through this opening.  Until the body has had a chance to start the healing process she needs to be prevented from being a typical kitten.

After Sasha’s surgery is complete, she is given an injectable pain medication,  if there are any baby teeth to be extracted, they are removed now.  She is then moved back to her kennel where there is a heat disc and lots of warm bedding.  It is very important that she stays warm during her surgery and recovery.  The technologist remains with Sasha as she starts to come out of anesthetic.  In about 5-10 mins she will be attempting to swallow and her endotracheal tube will be removed.  The tech remains with her for at least another 10 mins or more until she can sit up and fully swallow on her own.

Sasha remains on IV fluids through the morning and most of the afternoon.  She is checked often by the technologists to ensure she is doing well.  Since Sasha is a kitten, once she is up and moving around she is offered a snack.  Young animals’ metabolisms are very fast and so will need to eat much sooner than an older animal after surgery.  Often older animals won’t eat until the next morning as they may feel a little queasy and not be interested in food.

Sasha’s family comes and picks her up in the later afternoon.  A receptionist will retrieve her file upon their arrival and ring through the surgery.  A technologist will then go over all the details from surgery: things her owners will need to do and watch for as she recovers as well as explain the pain medication and any other medication that may be going home with them.  Sasha remains in the kenneling area until all of this information has been given so we can have your undivided attention and answer any questions before being distracted by your pet.  While the tech is going through the details with you, another staff member will be checking Sasha’s incision as well as the rest of her over so she is in top shape to go home.  If she arrived in a kennel she will be placed in her kennel to be brought up front once instructions are complete.

Although Sasha is leaving the clinic, we don’t consider this to be the end.  A technologist will call her family the day after surgery to see how she is doing and answer any questions that may have arisen.  In 10-14 days Sasha will be coming back in for an appointment as her incision should be almost completely healed and the external suture can be removed.  We ask clients to come in to have this done as it allows us to check the incision over as well as other things preformed in her surgery.  In Sasha’s case we will take a quick look at her tattoo and likely rescan her for her microchip to ensure it is still in place.

We encourage clients if they have any questions or concerns to contact us.  We want to be sure your pet is recovering completely from their surgery, so if anything is worrying you, we ask you to not hesitate and just call.  Occasionally some pets need more pain medications or can get an infection in the incision.  There is no cost to you to bring them in for a post-operation recheck, only the cost of medications or additional services if needed.

***Sasha update: She is doing very well post surgery and becoming a busy, active kitten in her new home

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The Importance of Dental Care

dental-brush-paste-kitThere are many different products on the market now that claim to clean your pet’s teeth and prevent the need for a full dental under anesthetic.   Although it might visually appear to make the teeth look healthy and certainly does make the breath smell better, the problems with these products and hand scaling while awake is they do not take care of the problems that build up under the gum lines and continue to decay the tooth and the jaw.  They also do not reach all of the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached when the animal is placed under anesthetic.

Here are a few definitions regarding dental health that you should know:

Plaque is the biofilm that accumulates on teeth, composed of mucin, food residues, desquamated epithelial cells, leukocytes, bacteria and their products including mucopolysaccarides.  In short it is the film that you feel develop on your teeth when you have eaten, but haven’t brushed.  Brushing can remove plaque before it has a chance to develop into something further.

Tartar also called calculus is the hard deposit that accumulates on the teeth – it is mineralized plaque.  Tartar is the plaque that has built up over time and has hardened.

Periodontal disease is the plaque-induced inflammation of the periodontal tissues.  Tissues adjacent to, surrounding and supporting the tooth and its roots.

Scaling is the act of using an instrument called a scaler to remove the plaque and calculus from the crowns of the teeth.   There are hand scalers and ultrasonic scalers.  Some special ultrasonic scalers also remove the plaque and calculus below the gum line.  We have one of these here in the clinic.

Polishing is the act of removing the microabrasions that occur to the teeth as they are scaled.  An additional problem with hand scaling without anesthetic is that the teeth can not be polished.  Without the polishing this microabrasions create additional surfaces for plaque and tartar to build up and deteriorate the teeth.

Anatomy of a tooth

As tartar builds up on the tooth it begins to wear down on the gingiva (gums), it essentially pushes its way along the tooth between the tooth enamel and the gingiva.    As it continues it reaches the peridonatal ligament and continues to push its way down, loosening the ligament’s hold on the tooth, resulting in a loose tooth.  As it sits against the tooth it begins to decay the enamal, rotting the tooth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA dental done under anesthetic when the teeth are just dirty but not beginning to decay can prevent the need to remove teeth.  However, if a tooth is loose or rotting it needs to be removed.  Keeping teeth in like this will cause further decay in the mouth; to the gums, the teeth and even the bone within the jaw.  PLUS all the bad bacteria in the mouth can also lead to other health related issues or cause existing issues to deteriorate faster.

Once the teeth are nice and clean from a dental cleaning the best option to keep them that way is regular brushing.  With some training and practice you can make cleaning your pet’s teeth an enjoyable experience.  As part of the cost of a dental we do a follow-up with you about a week or so after the surgery.  During this follow-up a veterinary technologist will check the mouth to ensure everything has healed nicely (especially if teeth have been removed) and then go over dental care including brushing and how to start.

The link below is a wonderful blog that has great x-ray imaging of the consequences of only doing scaling while the patient is awake.  You can clearly see where not only has the tooth completely deteriorated, but so has the bone in the jaw (we have included one image from the blog for you to see).

A really good read that we strongly recommend.

Vet Dentists Blog

Dangers of anesthesia free pet dental care