Companion animal dentistry
SPCA advocates for regular dental check-ups for companion animals by a veterinarian or board-certified veterinary dentist.
Dental health is an important part of companion animals’ overall health. Companion animals should have their teeth and gums checked at least once a year by a veterinarian to allow early diagnosis of issues and to maintain good oral health.
SPCA recommends developing a dental care routine at home, in addition to regular veterinary dental exams and dental cleanings.
Recommended methods to maintain dental health between regular veterinary dental exams and dental cleanings include daily tooth brushing for dogs and cats, prescription dental diets, dental treats and water additives which have been accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
SPCA advocates that invasive dental procedures, including dental extractions and below the gum line dental work, must only be performed by an experienced veterinarian or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of an experienced veterinarian.
Only experienced veterinarians, or a veterinary student under the direct supervision of an experienced veterinarian, should be able to perform invasive dentistry procedures. These procedures carry significant risk to the animal’s health and welfare should it not be carried out appropriately, if complications occur or if pain relief is not provided.
The exception to this is where competent allied veterinary professionals (such as veterinary nurses) perform preventative dental healthcare such as subgingival scaling while the animal is anaesthetised and under the supervision of a veterinarian. SPCA supports this practice in order to ensure that companion animals receive adequate dental care.
SPCA opposes anaesthesia-free dentistry services for cats and dogs.
Some groomers may offer anaesthesia-free dentistry services, such as dental scaling. However, appropriate dental care requires comprehensive examination, diagnosis and treatment, which cannot be performed whilst the cat or dog is conscious. Anaesthesia-free dentistry services compromise the welfare of the animals treated and endanger operators.
SPCA is concerned about the dental health of companion rabbits.
Dental disease is common in rabbits due to common issues such as inappropriate diet, genetics and trauma. Rabbits’ teeth continue to grow throughout their lives and dental problems can frequently occur. Rabbits need access to forage and appropriate chewing material to prevent their teeth from getting too long.
(See Rabbits for more information)