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PREVENTATIVE ORAL SCREENINGS & CLEANINGS WITHOUT ANESTHESIA: HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

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Hi, my name is Kacee and I am an LVT (Licensed Veterinary Technician) with Animal Dental Care. I have been performing PDCA’s on cats and dogs for almost 8 years. PDCA is short for a preventive dental cleaning and assessment, which is essentially a dental cleaning without the use of anesthesia. What I do does not equally replace a regular anesthetic dental, so anesthetic dentals cannot be dismissed altogether. A PDCA is a valuable tool to use in-between veterinarian recommended anesthetic dentals.

During your pets care with me, I will perform an assessment of the teeth before I begin my work, also checking under lips and tongue. Just as your dental hygienist does, I will use the ultrasonic scaler to clean their teeth of any tartar and plaque buildup. If they are too noise-sensitive I can often just handscale depending on the degree of the disease. I then polish, rinse, probe, chart all findings as I go and report to a veterinarian if needed. On average the procedure takes 20-30 minutes and the animals do surprisingly well. I work in a room alone, just me and the pet. Because it is just us two, the patient is not distracted by anything else, such as their family, other pets, or happenings in the treatment area of the hospital.  I have only been bitten once and it was when I was getting a dog out of a kennel. During a PDCA no one has gotten me yet! Fingers crossed…

In general pets who receive PDCA’s are recommended to see me every 6 months. However, small breeds and geriatrics are notorious for having a higher grade of dental disease and typically do better with PDCA’s on a quarterly schedule.

There are a few main differences between a PDCA and an anesthetic dental.

1.       The first and most obvious is that no anesthesia or sedatives are needed for a PDCA. I use a towel to swaddle-wrap cats and small/medium dogs. I sit on the floor and gently lay them in my lap just as you would an infant. Large dogs tend to just lay down and I put a leg around their rear end to keep them in position.  Some older dogs don’t like lying down, so I just have them stand up or sit down, however they are comfortable which is most important!

2.       There are no radiographs (x-rays) taken during PDCA’s. I am unable to see any pathology under the gums since it nearly impossible to take oral films on an awake patient. I do however, probe under the gums and feel for pockets, lesions, or any abnormalities in the tooth’s texture. If I find anything concerning, I immediately pause the procedure and discuss the findings with a veterinarian. The DVM listens to my concerns, examines the mouth and lets me know whether I should discontinue the procedure and recommend a regular anesthetic dental or continue with my cleaning.

3.       I cannot work on them all! Every pet I work on needs to be screened by a veterinarian before I meet them. This is to ensure they have no major pathology present and are of an agreeable temperament. Both factors play a vital role in the success of a PDCA. In addition, some pets do not tolerate even gentle restraint, and others are very anxious with the noise of the ultrasonic scaler. I do have an extremely high success rate, but some pets are just not suited to the procedure. Often the happy go lucky nice dogs are wiggly and the little shy ones do amazing! Honestly you just never know how they will do. I take my time with them and recognize they are nervous. I talk to them, give them little breaks and lots of love. I do my best to treat them like they are my own.

Click  here  to learn more about Animal Dental Care.

Click here to learn more about Animal Dental Care.

I have been working strictly on teeth for many years and it has taught me how important it is to keep up oral care. Generally speaking, a PDCA is a straightforward, in-and-out procedure but I can also find things that need further evaluation.  In the past I have found some crazy things like sticks lodged in palates, fractures under the gums, toy pieces stuck in between teeth, exposed pulp, and even hiding masses/growths. I will not clean your pet’s teeth if they need in-depth care that a routine cleaning cannot fix.  As for home care, I strongly recommend brushing your pet’s teeth. It’s hard I know, but don’t give up! The benefits are tremendous!

Interested in learning if your pet is a good candidate? Schedule an exam and screening here!

 

The Hard Decision

My dog, Scooby, will be 16 years old in July.  By all appearances, Scooby is a happy senior pup; he’s got skin issues and some gross warts, but he seems bright and alert.  So why am I having quality of life discussions with his vet?

If a stranger looks at him, they don’t know what those close to him do.  They don’t recognize the slow deterioration of his mental state or see the subtle changes in his walk.  There are obvious signs of health issues: his back-end shakes and every once in awhile he stumbles.  I watch the little changes in Scooby and justify them.  “It’s colder today than yesterday, that’s why he’s shaking more.”  Or, “oh, those are just normal signs of age.”  I don’t want to accept that Scoo can’t live as long as I do.  He’s my family and I don’t want to think about the day when I’ll have to say, “goodbye.”

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As a member of an incredible animal clinic, I remind myself of the candle we use when a client has made this painful decision.  I think of words I say more than I’d like: this is the most difficult but loving thing you can do for your pet.  When my girlfriend and I walked into the exam room and discussed quality of life with his veterinarian, I repeated those words.  We had no intention of euthanizing Scooby that day or even that month, but we needed to be prepared.  Even as a member of a medical team, I needed an objective point of view.  My partner and I needed to be able to tell a professional our observations and concerns so we could be prepared.  In Scooby’s case, when do we know he’s in pain (and his medications are no longer working)?  Are there specific signs that might tell us we’re dealing with an emergency?  We discussed the details/process of the euthanasia itself.

During the appointment, our veterinarian said something very important.  She told us that she supported us and our decision.  In that moment, I snapped out of client and into medical professional.  I wondered how many clients worry about what we think.  I thought of all the clients who say they don’t know how we do our jobs.  And I remembered the situations when we had no relationship with a pet and had to examine it first.  What must go on in our clients minds?  I want to tell you what my veterinarian told us: we support you.  We are always going to be advocates for the animal first and foremost— that is why we are in this profession.  But through the laughter and tears, we’ll be by your side.

If you or someone you know is preparing for your dog or cat’s end of life, we have resources available:

·       Quality of Life 

·       WSU Grief and Loss

And for those of you who ask how we do our jobs: there are certainly cases and days when these appointments are overwhelming.  We need each other, our loved ones, or a distraction to help us afterward; but we can do it because when we chose to get into this field, we agreed to protect and heal animals through all stages of their lives.  This is one of the most profound stages and we owe it to the pet (and you) to protect them from pain and heal them one last time.

Jordan Bair

Client Services Representative, Marketing Assistant

 

Why Does My Cat Sound Like An Elephant At Night?

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You’ve finally fallen asleep and suddenly your little fur ball sounds like an elephant running through the hallways.  How does a 7 pound cat manage to make so much noise?  Why do your feet turn into play toys?

Most of us think cats are nocturnal creatures, but did you know they are actually crepuscular?  This means if your cat sounds like herd of elephants in the dark of evening, you are likely encouraging their behavior.

The word crepuscular is derived from the Latin crepusculum, meaning “twilight.” Crepuscular animals tend to sleep at night, and reserve energy during midday, when the sun is at its peak. These species are active primarily during twilight (at dawn and dusk).
 

The last thing you want to do at midnight is pretend like this crazy cat isn’t there, but (unfortunately) that’s the best way to curb this behavior.  Getting out of bed and feeding your cat or playing with them only tells your cat that being awake at night is okay.

Here are some tips for keeping your cat asleep at night:

1.       Keep them busy during the day.  If you can’t stay home with them, there are plenty of battery operated toys available.  Be sure to research the safety of these toys before leaving your cat alone with them—you probably do not want to leave your cat with an electronic mouse but a stable toy would be okay.

A general rule of thumb, switch your cat’s toys.  Cats can get bored easily.  If they have a favorite toy, keep it consistent, but rotate additional toys. 

2.       Play with your cat when you get home.  You are their favorite playmate!  Remember, use toys, not your fingers.  

3.       Feed your cat their biggest meal before bed. 

4.       As a last resort, close your bedroom door at night.