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