How To Recognize Dental Concerns In Your Pet | Pet Care Tips

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How Do I, As the Pet Owner, Recognize Dental Concerns?

I’m Doctor Sean McPeck, CEO, owner of Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center. It’s kind of a wide variety of ways to go about doing this, but the biggest one is looking for abnormalities inside the mouth. Having that constant view of your dog’s mouth by brushing the teeth daily is going to be a great way to recognize when something is abnormal because you’re seeing what is normal.

So what is abnormal? Abnormal is going to be fractured teeth, missing teeth, inflammation, whether that’s gingivitis or now, do we have a foreign object in the in the mouth? A growth? When we look at the face, do we have bilateral symmetry or is one side looking different than the other? And ways that will manifest that is what we call an abscess.

If we get a tooth-root abscess due to a exposed pulp cavity that has gone unrecognized, that tooth needed to be pulled or need a root canal. Whether we’ve got some type of slab fracture on the tooth and now bacteria from the mouth is going down to the apex of the tooth, the root that’s in there and it creates an abscess. And so you’ll get swelling.

Whether you’ll get swelling of the face and then if it burst through in the nasal cavity, you can get unilateral nasal discharge. We could get an abscess going up behind the eyeball and the eyeball protruding forward, which is called a A retrobulbar abscess. So those are kind of extreme examples.

But one of the first things that we can notice just by looking at the mouth is if one side is completely clean and the other side has a bunch of tartar, plaque, gingivitis on it, then what that’s telling us is that our animal is purposely avoiding chewing on one side and the clean side is getting all the abrasion from chewing the kibble and getting cleaned up. So there might be something that is painful on the one side of the mouth. So, again, visual inspection.

The other way is that you reach down to your pet and they avoid contact like it hurts. Okay. That’s a great indication that there’s something wrong in their mouth. Do they have a toy that they normally like to play with and now they’re dropping that toy or they’re avoiding putting that toy in the mouth? Watching them eat. Are they avoiding eating the kibble?

Great examples, I’ve had many patients that have come in where they’re the owner tells me, hey, well, the dog or cat is just sitting there staring at the water, or they start to lick the water and then they shake their head or they sit and stare and drool looking at the kibble. Well, that animal obviously knows that it’s going to be painful when they go to eat or they go to drink and so now they’re avoiding it. They want to, but they’re avoiding it. And so that’s another great indication that, hey, there’s something wrong. We need to address the teeth. We need to get them looked at.

A dental cleaning is one way that we can go about removing all of that built up bacteria and tartar and plaque and then get good X-rays of the teeth so that we know if there’s a disease process that is affecting a tooth and whether or not tooth needs to be removed or have an advanced endodontic procedure done for a root canal or salvage procedure.

The biggest thing that I can say to the pet owner is you’ve got to be proactive with your pet’s dental care, whether it’s an additive into their water, whether it is a treat that helps to break down the buildup in the mouth or whether you’re manually brushing the teeth. Those are all interventional things that you can do to help prevent dental disease from from developing.

But obviously getting into a veterinarian where we can do that deep scaling that deep cleaning and polishing and really evaluate the teeth is the best thing that you can do. So have that discussion with your veterinarian. When you go in for your next check, ask the veterinarian to, you know, give you advice on when that next thing should be, because not every dog is the same. Right? Just with people.

That PH balance in the saliva, the diet, the way that they eat, you know, is this animal just literally gulping down the food and not chewing at all? Or do they sit there and really chew and break down the debris that’s in the mouth? This all affects how quickly we get calculus and tartar build up and gingivitis. And that is really going to impact whether or not you need a cleaning once a year. Some crazy ones, you know, every six months. Or are you good with every couple of years?

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Dr. Sean McPeck

A 2010 Graduate of Colorado State College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Sean McPeck developed his leadership as a Sniper Team Leader and Veterinarian with the US Army Special Operations, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Dr. McPeck has multiple combat deployments, totaling almost 2 years in combat theaters of operation.

He is the recipient of the Combat Action Badge, and is Ranger, Sniper, and Airborne qualified. While serving as an officer in Special Operations, Dr. McPeck was repeatedly recognized for his Honor, Integrity, Courage and Selfless Service in the name of the United States. He was recognized with not one, but two, Meritorious Service Medals.

Under his leadership, Dr. McPeck worked with Working Dog handlers, and canine units, to detain and seize enemy combatants. The canines that Dr. McPeck worked with are credited with savings thousands of United States soldiers deployed in combat areas.

Dr. McPeck authored The RCAP, Ranger Canine Athletic Program, which was the 1st comprehensive Military canine conditioning program.

His specific training and certification classes for Dog handlers to be proficient in Canine Tactical- Combat Casualty Care, and knowledge of current medical equipment and procedures, which led to the successful life saving interventions by handlers in real world operations.

Dr. SaraRose McPeck graduated from Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. A Massachusetts native who attended Becker College for her undergrad, Dr. McPeck has lived and worked around the country and even the world. She served four years in the United States Army as a Veterinary Officer, during which she was stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, and completed a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Her time serving in the Army provided her the experience as the primary veterinarian for over 350 Military Working Dogs, in which she provided all emergency, trauma, surgical, critical, and primary care. In addition to caring for animals, she trained, mentored, and led six Non-Commissioned Officers and twelve junior enlisted Soldiers, giving her not only impressive veterinary experience but also exceptional interpersonal and leadership skills.

As a Veterinary Corp Officer, she received a variety of awards, including a Bronze Star, a NATO Medal, a GWOT Medal, two Army Accommodation Medals, among many others. She gained experiences in which she exemplified impressive leadership skills and the ability to adapt to both clinical and combat support situations. Her years of experience serving our country and in veterinary medicine have equipped her with the knowledge and skills to provide exceptional care to our patients.