44 Rankeilor Street
Dunedin South, New Zealand, 9012
Phone: 03 456 2345
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Contents of this newsletter

01  The ins and outs of dental disease

02  Dental procedure FAQs

03  How do you care for your pet's teeth at home?

04  It's flu season - can my pet get the flu?

05  Staff news

06  Breaking new ground

01 The ins and outs of dental disease

There's no doubt about it, dental disease in our pets really stinks! It is one of the most common problems we see in veterinary practice and not only is it painful for your pet, the increased bacteria in the mouth can be associated with other conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease and liver disease. As many as eight in ten pets have dental disease!

Watch out for:

  • Smelly breath
  • Drooling or dropping food from the mouth
  • A loss of appetite or weight loss

What causes dental disease?

A lack of chewing sinew and muscle (such as pets would develop catching food in the wild) allows plaque and tartar to build up around the teeth. Loads of cheeky bacteria appear and this leads to inflammation and eventual loss of the attachments that hold the teeth in place.

What's the best treatment?

Dogs and cats with dental disease need a general anaesthetic to assess the teeth and clean thoroughly under the gum line. Teeth that are severely diseased and potentially painful are generally removed and this helps to prevent problems in the future.

Prevention is the key

Wet and soft food diets are notorious for allowing plaque and tartar to accumulate. It is vital that your pet is on a premium quality diet that helps to clean their teeth as they chew. Speak to us to find out the most appropriate diet for your pet.

Call us to arrange a dental check for your pet today.

02 Dental procedure FAQs

'Dentals' are common procedures performed in veterinary practices and when it comes to what's involved, people often have a few questions. Here are three common questions:

1. Why does my pet need a general anaesthetic?

In order for us to properly assess and treat dental disease, a general anaesthetic is necessary. Unfortunately we can’t ask you pet to ‘open wide’. We'd also like to keep all of our fingers so it is best that your pet is asleep! This enables us to clean every tooth thoroughly and safely remove teeth that are diseased.

2. Why is extraction of a tooth necessary?

When comparing our own dental experiences to that of our pets, extraction may sound drastic, however the options for saving teeth in our pets are limited. A pet with severe dental disease and pain has usually lost a significant amount of bone and soft tissue along the roots of the tooth. Extraction is often the only way we can restore oral health, remove the source of the pain and prevent the disease spreading to neighbouring teeth.

3. If my pet has to have multiple teeth removed, will he have any left to chew with?

Yes! Adult dogs have 42 teeth and adult cats have 30 so they will still be left with plenty to chew with! Once we remove a tooth however, the dentition of the mouth is changed and this can alter the chewing action and the natural cleaning action of chewing. Opposing teeth may be prone to tartar accumulation so ongoing regular dental checks are essential.

We are always happy to answer any further questions you might have.

03 How do you care for your pet's teeth at home?

Here are our top tips for dental care at home:

Make every mouthful count

Every mouthful your pet takes should be hard work! Try to imagine what your pet would do in the wild. He would be munching on chewy, sinewy food that requires ripping, tearing and crunching. This is the natural and best way to clean the teeth.

We have excellent diets available that are actually designed to clean the tooth as your pet chews. We can also advise you on the best chews and treats available when it comes to dental care. Not every chew on the market is entirely safe for your pet so it’s best to ask us for advice.

Brushing is best

Brushing your pet's teeth is considered gold standard in home care. We have tooth brushes that enable you to get into the hard to reach places.  Keep in mind that it can take a few months for your pet to get used to the idea! Daily brushing is recommended (in an ideal world) however a couple of times a week is better than no brushing at all. If you are using a dental paste make sure it pet friendly (human toothpaste is toxic to pets).

We will show you how best to brush your pet's teeth - just ask us for a demonstration.

04 It's flu season - can my pet get the flu?

It's a common question: can my pet get the flu? The answer is yes but unlike in humans, there isn't typically a flu season for dogs and cats and infection can occur year round.

Dogs can contract canine cough (incorrectly but often referred to as Kennel Cough) and cats can suffer from cat flu (commonly caused by a herpes virus).

Canine cough: is a highly contagious disease that's passed from dog to dog by moisture droplets. If not vaccinated, it's most likely your pet will catch this in the local park from another dog (or at boarding kennels). Vaccination is simple, effective and given annually. Your dog may still contract the infection but will thankfully be protected against the worst strains.

Cat flu: is also highly contagious and can cause severe illness, especially in elderly cats or kittens. Vaccination is highly effective and while it won't always prevent cats from developing flu, it helps reduce the severity of the condition. Flu vaccinations are given annually.

If you're unsure whether your pet is currently protected against these diseases, please call us and we'll be able to help.

05 Staff news

During the next couple of weeks you will see a few new faces as some of our staff take some well-earned holidays. Alistair is away for two weeks at the start of August and is being covered by Ngaire Dixon, a very experienced veterinarian. Michelle and Jeff then take some time off at the end of the month (Michelle on holiday and Jeff to a block course for his Masters in Veterinary Medicine) and Ngaire will come back and cover their time away.

Lotte is away on an extended holiday to Europe and is ably covered by Beth Hayward who has been with us for a few months gaining experience. She will be helped by our regular veterinary nursing locums, Ellen Lewis and Yoko Yamada.

06 Breaking new ground

Over the past couple of months we have been asked to assist with a number of research projects, which we have been happy to do and are very appreciative of all of those clients and pets who have assisted us.

  • Otago University were looking into cat ownership behaviour;
  • Massey University were looking into customer service and the ideal veterinary clinic (this one is ongoing);
  • Merial Animal Health were looking into respiratory diseases in cats, and required collection of swabs from various patients

Please be assured anything we do, we do with the full, informed consent and permission of our owners. There are no invasive tests, nothing that causes pain or is mostly filling in questionnaires!!  Our clients and patients are our top priority. However it is great to be able to help with "big picture" stuff occassionally and help where we can.