Dumb Friends League Does Dentals

Dental Disease Gina
Gina the Dachshund
Gina, a 9-year-old dachshund, came to the shelter suffering from advanced dental disease. She had severe tartar throughout her mouth and several abscessed teeth. Our veterinarians performed major dental surgery on Gina including multiple extractions. After a week of healing she was adopted by a loving owner, along with the dachschund friend who accompanied her when she arrived at the shelter.

Here’s something to chew on: In the last fiscal year, the Veterinary Services department of the Dumb Friends League performed 2,143 dental procedures on homeless pets, ranging from cleanings to extractions.

According to Eva DeTolve, director of veterinary services, animals often come to our shelters with advanced dental disease, which is known to be quite painful. Infections in the mouth can also have negative effects on other body systems because, like in humans, bacteria can travel throughout the body and cause damage in other organs.

“The good news is that both dogs and cats can have some or all of their teeth removed and continue to eat quite effectively,” she says. “In fact, many animals with severe dental disease will be able to eat much better once they are able to do so comfortably.”

DeTolve says positive changes in behavior often follow a dental surgery that removes diseased teeth. “Some pets will become withdrawn or even nippy when their mouths hurt,” she says. “Once they are no longer in pain, they become ‘a whole new dog or cat.’” If you’ve ever had a toothache, you can imagine how awful it must feel for an animal to have a whole mouth full of infected teeth!

Dental Disease Scaling

Oral Hygiene for Your Pet

Preventing dental disease in pets involves much the same protocol as prevention in people.

Ideally, owners should brush their pets’ teeth daily. There is a type of toothpaste made especially for dogs and cats that is safe for this purpose, says DeTolve, but human toothpaste is not safe for pets. Pets should receive regular exams by their veterinarian, and owners should follow the doctor’s advice on the appropriate schedule for dental cleanings.

Different pets and breeds have different needs for dentistry. “Small breed dogs in particular have a predisposition toward dental disease and often need more frequent dental care than larger dogs,” she says. There are also special pet foods designed to help keep teeth clean, although these are not a substitute for a regular dental hygiene schedule.