What’s That Smell?

Most pet parents associate canine and feline dentistry with the need to “fix bad breath”. That is one of many components behind why veterinarians recommend annual dentistry. But, bad breath can be more than just smelly and gross.There are many causes of bad breath in your pet. Some may be obvious – that tasty rodent, rear-end sniffs, or delicacy of another animal’s…well, you get the idea.

One of the most common reasons pets have halitosis, or “bad breath”, is due to bacterial buildup leading to the formation of plaque and tartar.Gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, can also be attributed to bad breath, especially once gingivitis progresses. This advancement of the disease is what can cause tooth and bone loss, known as periodontal disease. Just like in human dentistry, the terminology and diseases are similar.

Humans just brush their teeth more frequently to minimize the issues around gingivitis and periodontal disease. The primary cause of the bad breath is attributed to the bacteria that causes the tooth and bone decay. The smell is because the bacteria creates sulfur and that compound can also cause further decay and bone loss.

Dogs’ breed and age can also be a factor contributing to the development of dental disease and bad breath;smaller dogs and certain breeds may be more prone.h. And dogs aren’t alone! Certain cat breeds and exotic felines are also clinically known for having issues with halitosis.

But, did you know there are other reasons pets can have bad breath? Gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, oral tumors, respiratory infections – all of these other disease states can also contribute to bad breath issues. If you recall from our earlier blog, that is why this annual dental cleaning is more than just professional cleaning. The COHAT (comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment) helps us to ensure that your pet’s oral health is properly assessed and addressed to rule out additional periodontal health concerns.

As you schedule your pet’s annual preventive exams, please remember to schedule your pet’s annual dental exam and procedure. Our goal is to have the best health outcomes to ensure your pet has as many happy, healthy years as possible.
Dr. Karina Ballester, DVM, MPH

Why Does My Pet Need an Anesthetized Dental Procedure?

In our last blog, you learned about the comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment(COHAT) we use to evaluate and treat your pet’s teeth and gums.  Today’s article will educate about the “what next” step in how we approach dentistry for your pet at Neuse River Veterinary Hospital.

After we evaluate your pet’s teeth and gums with a visual exam, probing, and, most importantly, dental radiographs, our next step is to address any issues we may have found, which often requires extracting some teeth and cleaning others.  Think in human terms for dental cleaning with this procedure.  The primary difference is your dentist can instruct you to keep your mouth open and head title a certain way.  Your dental team can thoroughly clean your teeth, and your dentist can examine the health of each tooth.  And, likely, you aren’t going to bite your providers or aggressively try to escape!

The anesthetized COHAT allows us to clean, treat, extract and/or repair your pet’s teeth safely and effectively. The X-rays we take allow us to evaluate the health of the pet’s teeth, jaw, and gums.  You may not know this, but most diseases occur below the gumline in pets.  The anesthetized procedure allows us to thoroughly clean and make further evaluations impossible when your pet is active.  The cleaning process, or “scaling”, allows us to remove plaque and tartar and polish the teeth for good oral health.

With this form of sedation, your medical team can perform dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet.  Our governing body, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), does not recommend anesthesia-free dental cleaning because it doesn’t allow for proper inspection below the gumline and can be a source of injury to the pet and medical team during the procedure.

Some pet parents have asked about the safety of anesthesia during this procedure.  While there are always minor risks associated with sedation, our anesthetic protocols are very safe and continue to improve with low side effects.  Almost all pets return home on the same day of the procedure.

Your pet’s COHAT, anesthetized dental cleaning, and preventive care are essential pieces of your pet’s overall healthcare.  Our medical team is continuously trained on important techniques, medications, and products to ensure the best outcome for your four-legged friend.

Dr. Karina Ballester, DVM MPH

Why are Dental Exams and Cleanings Important for Your Pets?

Many pet owners equate dental needs for their pets with bad breath alone. Just like in humans, bad breath is only a portion of why it’s important to have your pet’s mouth examined and cleaned on an annual basis.
Dental health is important because dental issues can cause other health problems in pets.

At Neuse River Veterinary Hospital, we have a dental protocol for dogs and cats. What does that mean to you? We follow the medical guidelines outlined by the American Veterinary Dental College. This protocol is called a COHAT, which is an acronym for Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment. COHATs are important for your pet and your wallet.

During a COHAT, our veterinarians and medical team will assess your pet’s full mouth with complete X-rays so we can evaluate what we can’t see on a visual assessment. Dental cleanings are an important part of this assessment, but not the full picture. Just like in your dental care, cleaning removes tartar and plaque build-up, but the COHAT tells us the rest of the story.

Since our pets can hide pain, the COHAT can help us assign a “grade” to problem teeth and gum issues and help us prevent illnesses associated with your pet’s oral health. This means longer, better health for your pet and the opportunity for you to save money on your pet’s long-term health.

What does the COHAT process look like? We review your pet’s bloodwork so we can properly choose anesthesia for the COHAT. Your pet will also have a thorough oral health exam, where we probe the teeth and chart any problem areas. X-rays help determine if any diseased teeth need to be removed or other treatments. Finally, after the procedure, we evaluate nutritional needs, at-home cleaning, chewing treats designed to minimize plaque and breath issues, and other beneficial products. To maintain your investment for this dental cleaning and COHAT, we always recommend daily brushing, water additives, dental chews, and an appropriate diet.

We use a lot of human dentistry examples when educating you on your pet’s dental needs. Humans brush their teeth twice a day and likely floss. We generally visit the dentist twice a year. Remember these differences for your pet. An annual anesthetized COHAT and including a dental cleaning is a “must-do” for your pet like we get at the dentist every six months. Follow up this investment with chews daily that can help prevent disease, brushing, and nutritional options, and we can help ensure your pet has many happy, healthy years…and better breath.

Dr. Connie Jones, DVM

Neuse River Vets’ Guide to Dog Dental Health: Why It Matters for Your Pet’s Well-being.

As pet parents, we often focus on the immediate needs of our furry companions – their diet, exercise, and regular vet checkups. However, one crucial aspect that sometimes gets overlooked is dental health. At Neuse River Vet Office, we emphasize the importance of maintaining your dog’s dental hygiene. Here’s why dental health is so vital for your canine friend and how we can help.

1. Preventing Dental Diseases

Dental disease is one of the most common health issues in dogs. Without proper care, plaque and tartar can build up, leading to periodontal disease. This not only causes discomfort and pain for your pet but can also lead to more severe health complications. Regular dental check-ups help in early detection and prevention of these issues.

2. Fresh Breath and More Cuddles

Nobody enjoys stinky dog breath! Often, bad breath in dogs is a sign of underlying dental problems. Regular dental cleanings and check-ups at our Wendell vet office can ensure your dog’s breath stays fresh, making those cuddle sessions even more enjoyable.

3. Improved Overall Health

Dental health in dogs is not just about teeth and gums; it’s also about their overall well-being. Infections in the mouth can lead to more significant health issues, including heart, liver, and kidney problems. By focusing on dental health, you’re contributing to your dog’s overall physical health.

4. Pain-Free, Happy Life

Dental issues can be quite painful for dogs. They might experience discomfort while eating or playing. Regular dental care at Neuse River Vet Office in Wendell ensures your pet remains pain-free and enjoys a higher quality of life.

5. Cost-Effective in the Long Run

Preventive dental care can save you money over time. Addressing dental issues early on at Neuse River Vet Office means avoiding more costly procedures in the future. It’s an investment in your dog’s health and your peace of mind.

How Neuse River Vet Office Can Help

At Neuse River Vet Office, we are committed to providing comprehensive dental care for your dog. Our services include:

Regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
Dental X-rays to detect hidden problems.
Professional advice on home dental care for your dog.
Treatment of dental diseases and surgery if necessary.


Your dog’s dental health is a crucial component of their overall well-being. At Neuse River Vet Office in Wendell, we are dedicated to ensuring that your pet maintains a healthy mouth, leading to a happier and longer life. Remember, a healthy mouth means a healthier pet. Schedule your dog’s dental check-up with us today and take a proactive step towards their well-being! 🐾💙