Frankie is an 8 1/2-year-old Bichon Frise owned by Joan Stockton. He was born with a congenital heart defect and has been on heart medication since he was a puppy. Like many other small breed dogs, Frankie also had periodontal disease.
Oral disease is the most commonly diagnosed infectious disease in pets. By the time they are four-years-old, 85% of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease. Signs can include inflamed and swollen gingiva (gums) calculus (tartar), bad breath, and oral discomfort. In the advanced stages, bacteria can spread in the blood stream throughout the body, potentially causing damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart, which was of particular concern in Frankie’s case.
Knowing how important dental care is for Frankie, Joan began planning for him to have a complete dental cleaning with Dr. Hsu. Fortunately, periodontal disease can be treated with veterinary intervention and often prevented with subsequent home dental care.
Because of his preexisting heart condition, Frankie was put on antibiotics a couple of days prior to his procedure. Preanesthetic blood work performed the morning of his cleaning was found to be normal. Frankie was then anesthetized and a thorough oral exam revealed the true extent of Frankie’s periodontal disease. Besides the typical heavy calculus build up and gingivitis, deep pockets were found between many of Frankie’s teeth that could not have been detected prior to his dentistry. This is indicative of disease beneath the gums likely involving the surrounding bone. Ultimately, Frankie had multiple teeth extracted and was given pain medication to help with discomfort for the next 24 hours. Upon discharge, Joan was given instructions on home dental care along with samples of dental chews and flavored toothpaste that will help protect Frankie’s teeth in the future and improve his overall health.
Today, Joan reports that Frankie is doing very well, even better than she had anticipated. He is perkier and more playful and appears to be feeling great. He even seems “stronger” in general; able to jump up on things that prior to his dentistry he could not. With regular teeth cleanings and some daily routine care between, we can prevent dental disease and more serious problems for Frankie so that he may enjoy many more healthy years ahead.