February – Dental Health Month

Did you know that approximately 80% of adult dogs and 70% of adult cats have some form of oral disease?  Dental problems are among the top three pet owner concerns in dogs and cats! Periodontal disease may not be visible, but it can be painful for your pet and will get worse without proper dental care. Advanced periodontal disease has been associated with severe health problems, like kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes. Let us help your pets avoid the pitfalls of dental disease, start with a Dental Health Exam at Wateree Animal Hospital!


When we go to the dentist, we are happy to sit back in the chair, open our mouths, and most likely not bite our dentist. Unfortunately, pets are designed a little differently – their mouths do not open as wide and even the most well behaved dogs will not allow a full dental exam and cleaning. Our clients typically notice the most common sign of dental disease at home – bad breath! Bad breath can be one indicator that it’s time for a dental health exam if your pet has not had one in the last year.


At Wateree Animal Hospital, a dental cleaning is much more than just removing tartar from teeth. Our goal is to restore your pet’s mouth to a healthy state. We are often asked why a pet needs anesthesia for a dental cleaning. The truth is, anesthesia allows us to closely evaluate your pet’s mouth and teeth for any abnormalities and develop a customized treatment plan for your pet.

Because general anesthesia is a requirement for dental cleanings, we do everything we can to ensure the safety of your pet.

  • Pre-anesthetic Examination – The doctor will perform a physical exam including listening closely to your pet’s heart and lungs.
  • Lab Tests – Blood work is super important in detecting hidden illnesses and abnormalities that may put your pet at risk during anesthesia. Even though modern anesthesia is considered very safe, blood work is a precautionary measure we use to minimize any risks.

The Dental Cleaning

  • Anesthesia & Monitoring – While your pet is under anesthesia, we vigilantly monitor your pet’s vitals including body temperature, pulse ox, blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.
  • Evaluation of Teeth – Each tooth is checked to ensure there are no deep pockets between the gum and tooth and the entire mouth is evaluated for abnormalities. If the doctor detects any abnormalities, you can expect a phone call to discuss the findings along with a treatment plan for your pet.
  • Scaling and polishing –  The teeth are scaled with an ultrasonic scaler, similar to what your dentist uses, then polished to ensure the surface is smooth and less likely to attract plaque and tartar.
  • Lastly, your pet is monitored until fully recovered from anesthesia. Once your pet is sitting up, wagging or meowing, you will receive a call from a veterinary technician or veterinarian with an update on the dental procedure and answer any questions you have.
Home Care

After your pet’s dental, it’s time for homework! With the right home care and support from us, your pet will enjoy a clean, healthy mouth and fresh breath. A pet with healthy teeth has the best chance of avoiding chronic illness and living a happy, healthy life full of fresh-smelling doggy kisses and kitty meows.

Bones & Chews

Chewing can really help to keep your pet’s teeth healthy, particularly those premolars. There is certainly much debate on the safety of bones for dogs, so always consult your veterinarian to decide what is right for your dog! Please remember that chicken bones, rib bones, and rawhide bones are never safe to give your dog. You will always find a special type of dental chew on our shelf that helps keep teeth clean and freshen breath. It’s a specially formulated dental chew with an abrasive texture and blend of enzymes that help prevent plaque and tartar build-up and keep the teeth clean. The palatable poultry flavor makes it a real treat!

Dental Diets

Have you ever been told that feeding dry food to your pet is the best way to keep your pets teeth clean? The truth is, feeding any dry food for better dental health is a common misconception. To give your pet an advantage, think about feeding a specially formulated dental diet. Dental diets can be instrumental in maintaining clean chompers. We recommend diets such as Hills, T/D – this food can be fed as a regular diet or given as treats!  When your cat or dog bites into these specially formulated kibbles, the food breaks and cleans the tooth surface while fighting bacteria-laden plaque.

Water Additives

There are various types of additives you can add to your pet’s drinking water that help reduce tartar formation. They typically work best as a preventative, so should ideally be introduced when your dog is young or just after a dental cleaning. Ask your veterinarian if an additive is right for your pet.