Pet Dental Disease

Dental disease is one of the most commonly found aliments in companion animals.  More than 85% of cats and dogs over the age of 4 years old will have periodontal disease.  Horizon Veterinary Group can diagnose and facilitate a treatment plan for your pet’s dental needs.

Dental disease begins with plaque on your pet’s teeth. Then the bacteria in the mouth stick to the plaque and begin to accumulate at the gumline.   If the plaque is not brushed away daily, the minerals in the foods your pet eats can precipitate to form a hardened calculus called tartar.  Tartar is a yellow or brown accumulation on the tooth surface.  The bacteria can then destroy tooth supporting bone and cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).  Gingivitis will cause your pet’s gums to bleed and be very sore and sensitive.  

A pet with a healthy mouth should have no signs of pain or changes in eating and chewing habits.  If you have noticed a foul odour, change in eating or refusal to eat, bleeding or broken teeth, your pet most likely has an oral problem and should see a veterinarian.

If you suspect your pet has a dental issue, a full veterinary oral examination should be done and a dental cleaning may be recommended.  All dental cleanings must be performed under a full general anaesthetic.  This is essential for proper dental assessment and treatment.  Anaesthetic protocols are carefully considered for each individual patient and are carefully tailored for the safest anaesthetic possible.  With safer anaesthetics available today and the monitoring equipment available at our Horizon Veterinary Hospitals, it makes the dangers and pain of untreated dental problems the bigger risk to your pet’s health, even in older animals.  

When your pet comes in for a dental cleaning at our Horizon Veterinary Hospitals, a complete cleaning and polishing is performed, which includes checking and treating for any broken or rotting teeth, cavities and abscesses.   Each and every tooth will be examined and the gum pockets will be measured with a dental probe. Any unusual findings with the teeth and gums will then be charted on a dental chart.  If there are any questionable teeth, our hospitals are all equipped with dental x-ray units.  X-rays will show the inside of the tooth and the roots that lies below the gumline.  If there is an abscess or bone loss, the veterinarian will discuss with you what should to be done, which may lead to making the decision to extract the affected tooth or teeth. 

Homecare is a very important component of the dental health for your pet.  Daily brushing with a pet toothpaste and a ultra soft toothbrush is the best way to combat dental disease.  If brushing is not possible, there are many great products that can be an aid in dental health.  There are numerous dental diets for both cats and dogs, as well as dental chews, treats and rinses.  Any of our Horizon Veterinary team members would be happy to discuss all the options available to you.

 February and March are Dental Health Months at the Horizon Veterinary Group Hospitals.  Please contact us to discuss any concerns you have about your pet’s dental health and to book your pet’s dental procedures today!


Article by:  Tamara Matijevich, RVT