Turning Passion Into Action with Badger Vet Pet Dental Health Advocate, Amy Finn, CVT

Amy Finn, CVT, with  Bella before her dental cleaning

Amy Finn, CVT, with  Bella before her dental cleaning

We are lucky at Badger Veterinary Hospital to have such skilled and knowledgeable veterinary technicians caring for your pets and supporting our veterinarians. And through their years working with us, our veterinary technicians develop a passion in particular areas of pet health. For Amy Finn, CVT, her passion is pet dental health.

We asked Amy, Badger Vet’s pet dental health advocate, some questions about your pet’s oral health and teeth.

What makes you so passionate about pet dental health?

I fell in love with the idea of being able to personally remove so much bacteria from a pet’s mouth, eliminate sources of infection, and make that oral cavity a better one for owners to receive kisses from. It's a very rewarding procedure for technicians. It's a gross job, but someone has to do it!

What is the biggest factor contributing to dental problems in pets?

Owner education! The average pet owner doesn't pay much attention to their pet's teeth — if they wiggle when you touch them or if it looks like something is growing on them.

Bad breath is common in animals — it isn’t exactly minty fresh, so that doesn't come off as a red flag to owners. Your pet’s breath should NOT smell like a dead animal!

We don't watch our pets eat. Are they only chewing on one side of their mouth? Do they eat slower than they did six months ago?

It's all about being informed and educated on your pet's health.

What would you tell a pet owner who is concerned about the use of anesthesia in dental cleanings?

Anesthesia is 10 times safer than it was 10 or 15 years ago. And here at Badger Vet, we use the safest anesthesia possible for each patient.

We recommend pre-surgical bloodwork so we can rule out any risk factors and tweak our anesthesia protocol as necessary based on those results or previous results and diagnoses. Our patients are connected to monitoring devices during the procedure that allow us to monitor blood pressure and pulse and actually HEAR their pulse on a device called a Doppler.

We wouldn't recommend it if anything about the process was unsafe for your pet, and each patient is treated differently based on their own individual health requirements.

Amy practices her pet dental X-ray skills

Amy practices her pet dental X-ray skills

Why are dental X-rays so important?

Dental radiographs allow veterinary staff to see problem areas that are not visible to the naked eye, such as root resorptions, fractured teeth or roots below the gum line, bone loss, or remnants of a fractured tooth. These conditions cannot be diagnosed without dental radiography, and each of these conditions is painful for your pet and can lead to long-term infections and discomfort.

What can pet owners do between dental cleanings to care for their pet’s teeth?

  1. Feed a healthy, well-balanced diet for your pet’s needs, with quality ingredients, from brands such as Royal Canin or Purina.
  2. Wash your pet’s food and water dishes weekly.
  3. Consider brushing their teeth (not as scary as it sounds!) once a week, just to help keep the bacteria growth at bay.
  4. Toys such as Nylabones or KONGs are great for chewing on and strengthening gums and teeth.
  5. Most importantly, monitor your pet’s eating behaviors regularly, and personally look at their teeth a few times a month. Be aware and educated on what is going on with this part of their body, since you can actually see it!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, but any month is a good month for your pet’s dental exam and cleaning. If it’s been awhile since we’ve taken a look in your pet’s mouth, or if you have concerns in the areas Amy mentioned, contact Badger Vet today to schedule your pet’s dental exam or cleaning.