What kinds of dental problems do pets have?
Dental disease is a common and often overlooked problem in animals. Dental disease is as common in pets as it is in humans. The most common form of dental disease in pets is tartar buildup. This causes irritation of the gums around the base of the teeth (gingivitis), resulting in exposure of the roots. Ultimately, this leads to infection and tooth loss.
Isn't it correct that pets that eat dry food don't have tartar buildup?
There are many misconceptions about tartar buildup in pets. Diet plays more of a minor role in the development of tartar accumulation than most people think. Because dry food is not as sticky as canned food, it does not adhere to the teeth as much and thus, does not cause tartar buildup as rapidly. However, eating dry food does not remove tartar from the teeth. Once tartar forms, a professional cleaning is necessary. We recommend Science Diet t/d for long-term dental health, particularly after a dental is performed.

One of the main factors determining the amount of tartar buildup is the individual chemistry in the mouth. Some pets need yearly cleanings; other pets need a cleaning only once every few years.
What does tartar do to the teeth?
If tartar is allowed to remain on the teeth, several things may happen:
  1. The tartar will mechanically push the gums away from the roots of the teeth. This allows the teeth to loosen in their sockets and infection to enter the root socket. The teeth will loosen and fall out or have to be extracted.
  2. Infection will accumulate in the mouth, resulting in gingivitis, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis (sore throat). Although antibiotics may temporarily suppress the infection, if the tartar is not removed from the teeth, infection will return quickly.
  3. Infection within the mouth will be picked up by the blood stream and carried to other parts of the body. Kidney infections, as well as infections involving the heart valves, frequently begin in the mouth.
What is involved in cleaning my pet's teeth?
Proper cleaning of the teeth requires complete cooperation of the patient so plaque and tartar can be removed properly. Anesthesia is required to thoroughly clean the teeth. Although anesthesia always carries a degree of risk, the modern anesthetics in use in our hospital minimize this risk, even for older pets. Depending on your pet’s age and general health status, blood may be analyzed prior to anesthesia to evaluate blood cell counts and organ functions. There are three steps in the cleaning process that will be used on your pet:
  1.  Scaling removes the tartar above and below the gum line. This is done with hand instruments and ultrasonic cleaning equipment.
  2. Polishing smoothes the surface of the teeth, making them resistant to additional plaque formation.
  3. Flushing removes dislodged tartar from the teeth and helps to remove the bacteria that accompany tartar.
What type of scheduling is needed for teeth cleaning?
In order for us to clean your pet’s teeth, we ask that you schedule the procedure a few days in advance. It will be necessary to withhold food after 8:00 PM the night before; please do not remove the water. Your pet should be admitted to the hospital between 7:30 and 8:00 AM and will generally be ready for discharge in the late afternoon. Your pet will need to stay indoors that evening to insure that no accidents (falls, etc.) occur until they are completely recovered from anesthesia. If that is not possible, you may elect to have your pet spend the night in the hospital.
How can I prevent this from recurring?
Several preventive measures can be recommended to aid in oral hygiene for your pet. Seek regular veterinary care annually and have your pets teeth cleaned when advised. It also helps to maintain home dental care including brushing the teeth. Special toothbrushes and flavored toothpastes are available. We will be happy to show you how to do this and to recommend a schedule.


At PAVGCC (part of the Peoria Area Veterinary Group), we are dedicated to providing the highest quality care to pets and their families in a caring and healing environment. Our mission is to empower pet families by providing knowledge and education on the behavior, diagnosis and treatment of cancers. Through compassion and service, we help families make the best decision for their pet with cancer while striving to achieve the longest, high quality life possible.

PAVGCC includes a group of highly specialized, trained consulting veterinarians in the field of medical oncology who are able to recommend and provide the best treatment options available for pets in need of cancer therapy, close to home. At PAVGCC, we understand that pets are an important member of our clients’ families. Our focus is on creating an empathetic environment where clients and patients feel safe and comfortable making decisions about the care they receive. Our entire staff is dedicated to providing the utmost care and attention to the needs of you and your pet.

How Do You Know if Your Pet Should See an Oncologist?

Early consultations with oncologists often saves clients’ money and increases their pets’ chances of a good treatment outcome. At PAVGCC, we help you:

  • Understand the big picture about your pets’ diagnosis.
  • Avoid unnecessary or repeated diagnostic tests.
  • Prioritize diagnostic and treatment options so you can use their financial resources wisely.
  • Teach you about your pets’ prognosis so you can set realistic goals.
  • Develop appropriate treatment plans and coordinate efforts with you and your veterinarian.
  • Find clinical trials, if available.

Medical Services


Electrocardiograms or ECG are sometimes recommended when your pet is found to have an irregular heartbeat or other symptoms leading the veterinarian to believe that there may be a concern regarding your pet’s heart. This test does not require sedation and can be done during a regular examination. The results are sent to an outside laboratory and will be read by a board-certified cardiologist in order to obtain a diagnosis and medical plan for your pet.

Radiology (X-rays)

Radiology is a great way to diagnose fractures, bone deformities, arthritis and other issues your pet may have. These 2-D images also enable the veterinarian to visualize the various organs located in the thorax and abdomen of your pet. The information obtained from these images often confirm or rule out a diagnosis. If further information is required to confirm a foreign body or bladder stone, it may be necessary to use a contrast medium in order to complete this process.


This non-invasive procedure is done by using an electronic device called a Tonovet® and is used to determine the ocular pressure of your pet’s eyes. Abnormal eye pressure can be an indication of diseases such as Glaucoma or Uveitis. Certain breeds are more predisposed to certain eye problems and it may be recommended by the veterinarian that you have your pet’s eye pressures monitored yearly as a precaution or more frequently if needed.


Ultrasound screening has become a vital tool in veterinary medicine. With this diagnostic procedure, we can visualize organs in fine detail, outlining the actual organ or vessel for blood supply, size, shape, and irregularities. The information obtained aids us in determining or confirming a diagnosis without invasive surgery. Biopsies are usually taken but are non-invasive and may only require a mild sedative or can sometimes be done with the patient awake. If a biopsy is going to be taken, then we will draw a small sample of blood from your pet a day or two prior to the ultrasound and send it to an outside laboratory for testing of clotting factors. Your pet will have an area of their body shaved depending on where we are focusing the ultrasound as hair interferes with the ultrasound probe and has to be removed.


Microchipping is a small chip that is implanted at the back of the neck between the shoulder blades of your pet. This identification system is a vital tool in reuniting lost pets with their owners. It is not painful and can be implanted at any age of the pet. Once your pet is registered in the national database it is there for life. All animal shelters and vets have scanners that can read the chip and make it possible to trace the number back to the owner. The microchips that we implant are international and can be read anywhere in the world. It is important that you keep your address and phone number current at all times with the registering. Visit HomeAgain for more details.