February is Pet Dental Month. Part 2

Periodontal disease


Periodontal disease is the loss of the periodontal attachment apparatus (periodontal ligament, alveolar bone, cementum and gingiva). Since 75-85% of these structures are identified below the soft tissues of the oral cavity (e.g. gingiva, alveolar mucosa, and palatal mucosa), a thorough clinical subgingival evaluation and intraoral radiographs are required to assess, diagnose and treat periodontal disease.


Periodontal disease may be potentiated by, but not limited to, malocclusions, crowding and rotation of teeth, systemic disease, nutritional status, individual patient susceptibility, genetics, trauma, and increased tooth to jaw size ratios.


The clinical signs of periodontal disease are often hidden and insidious. Halitosis, gingivitis, supragingival plaque and calculus, reluctance to chew, head shyness, pawing at the mouth, dropping food, sneezing, nasal discharge, are clinical signs. Unfortunately, many of those clinical signs require astute client observation and/or careful questioning from the clinician. Most commonly, there may be no obvious clinical signs to the owner and untrained veterinarian.


Stages of periodontal disease:


Stage 1 – Marginal gingivitis with no attachment loss. Minimal plaque and calculus


Stage 2 – Moderate gingivitis, bleeding upon probing. More plaque and calculus     accumulation is present, especially in the gingival sulcus. Dental radiographs may show signs of up to 25% attachment loss and some horizontal bone loss may be evident.


Stage 3 – Moderate periodontal disease. Periodontal pockets may be present and dental radiographs may show signs of attachment loss between 25% and 50%. Teeth may become mobile. Vertical bone loss and infra-bony pockets may be present.


Stage 4 – Severe periodontal disease. Periodontal pockets greater than 9 mm. Attachment loss is greater than 50%. Significant infrabony pockets with very mobile teeth associated with severe halitosis and generalized stomatitis.

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February is Pet Dental Month

Preventive Dental care

Preventive care and client education is an important step to introducing, implementing and improving overall dental and oral medical quality in your practices. Understanding the veterinary team’s (DVMs, veterinary technicians and assistants, receptionists, managers) role in preventing periodontal disease before pathology develops through the three keys to preventive dental care are critical steps to embrace. Suggestions for partnering with your clients to actively involve them in their pet’s oral home care, understanding client perceptions, providing confident and personalized recommendations, working as a team to change and improve the hospital culture will be addressed.

Clients play a key role in insuring the success and oral health of their pet. Proper education of the client regarding the need for home care and teaching the client to brush and to start an effective home care routine is important. This begins at an early age when pets are puppies and kittens. The hospital staff needs to spend enough time with the clients, explaining the causes of periodontal disease, so they will understand why it is important to continue home dental care and to recognize when problems are present so that proper intervention can occur.

During the pet’s first visit, and then during subsequent visits when the puppy or kitten receives vaccinations, the mouth needs to be examined. Signs of malocclusions, retained deciduous teeth, developmental problems such as cleft palate, trauma or fractured teeth should be identified. Discuss with clients when and which deciduous teeth fall out and inform them that the best way to begin preventive dental care is to start brushing the teeth when the pet is young, so he/she will get accustom to brushing.

Tooth brushing is the most effective means to prevent plaque and subsequent calculus build up because it is the mechanical action of the brushing that is effective in reducing plaque accumulation. Pet dental products such as toothpastes, toothbrushes, finger pads, finger brushes and dental wipes are available and should be used. Human dental care products should not be used. Dental diets, exercise toys, rawhide strips, dental treats, and many other dental toys can help reduce and eliminate the buildup of plaque and calculus. Family and pet compliance will determine the best dental home care required for each pet. Cow hooves, bones, hard plastic toys such as Nylabones can fracture teeth and should be avoided.

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PHPH now part of Best Friends Group!

As of the first of this year, our practice was sold to Best Friends Group. We think we have found a good partner for the future. The Best Friends Group is a family owned business and we think they offer the best opportunities for maintaining and growing the culture we have now and for the future.

I am not retiring! I plan on working for at least another couple years to help fulfill the vision the leaders of this group have. I want to be sure that when I leave, I have left the clinic, my staff and clients in the best position I can.

Our clients will see little change. Our name will remain Plymouth Heights Pet Hospital. All our personnel remain in place and no salaries were cut. They have told us we are a successful practice and to just keep doing what we are doing. Clients will see new options for wellness plans for their pets. Best Friends Group also has a national reputation for their Pet Care Centers. They have the personnel and resources to help our boarding kennel be all it can be.

I believe this company is different from the other corporations. They are not all over the country. They focus on specific metro areas they like. Best Friends Group chose our clinic to be their first acquisition in the Twin Cities for a reason: they value what we have here. They hope to buy a number of good clinics here that will share resources and support one another.

We are truly excited about the vision this company has. As corporate ownership of veterinary clinics seems the future of veterinary medicine, we hope that together with Best Friends Group we can help shape what corporate veterinary ownership should look like for staff and clients.

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Plymouth Heights Pet Hospital ringing the bell!

Plymouth Heights Pet Hospital will be ringing the bells this Thursday from 5 to 7pm at the Cabelas in Rogers. Stop by and say hi. If you can’t make it and want to make a donation we have a kettle on the counter in the reception area. Any donations are appreciated.


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Got Shoes? Then Help Pet Haven!

Plymouth Heights Pet Hospital is partnering with Pet Haven of Minnesota to collect new or gently used shoes. As detailed below the shoes will be sent to developing countries and Pet Haven will recieve $10 for each bag of shoes. Along with the below drop off locations Plymouth Heights Pet Hospital will take donated shoes on Wednesday November 4 and Thursday November 5th between Noon and 2pm. Help us make this a successful campaign!


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A New Doctor for PHPH

We are very excited about a new addition to our team! A week from today, Dr Jennifer Mulcahy will start working at our hospital. She will be replacing Dr Robyn Corcoran who has moved on to work for the USDA. Dr. Mulcahy graduated from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005. She began her veterinary career at a small animal practice near Atlanta, GA. She has been certified in veterinary acupuncture since 2009. More recently, she has been working for a large humane society near Detroit, Michigan. Her veterinary interests include complementary therapies, nutrition, and pain management.

Dr. Mulcahy recently moved back to Minnesota with her husband Mark, daughter Teagan, and son Calum. Their yellow lab Raine and cat Harry complete their family. In her free time she enjoys being with her family, reading, and crafts.

We are lucky to have found such a talented addition to our staff and look forward to introducing her to our clients and their pets.

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Dr. Corcoran Leaving Plymouth Heights

Robyn Corcoran will be leaving PHPH in early September. We appreciate all the fine work she has done here and will miss her greatly. We asked her to share some farewell thoughts with our clients:

“It was pretty difficult figuring out how to begin this, because it’s not easy to say goodbye to a place that has become like a second home and family. On September 12, with much sadness, I will be ending my time at Plymouth Heights Pet Hospital after four of the best years of my career. I’ve been offered a job opportunity with the USDA which will allow me to work from home and be more present for my son, who will be starting his own adventure this year at a new school. As hard as it was to think about leaving a practice which has remained the definition of a dream job for my entire time here, it was harder to turn down the opportunity to be there for my son as he faces the new challenges of middle school. I’ll be leaving behind not only an outstanding group of individuals I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work alongside of, but several years’ worth of wonderful relationships with so many pets and their special families. It’s been an honor to have been entrusted with their care and of all the things about clinical practice that I’m going to miss, it’s those relationships which will be missed the most.

It’s been a wonderful ride, thanks in large part to all of you. You will be missed.

Take care!

Dr. Robyn Corcoran

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So it appears we may have CIRD, commonly referred to as kennel cough, in our boarding facility again. It had been five weeks since we have had any reports of coughing dogs from our kennel (though we have continued to see coughing dogs from the Humane Society and other boarding kennels) so we were clear for a while. But as of today we have reports of three dogs that were boarding around August 6th that are now coughing. There have been no dogs that have been coughing while they’ve been boarding so we are unsure of exposure route. But this virus seems to be everywhere dogs gather and it could be around the Twin Cities until winter, possibly longer. Again this time finds us during a very busy time when so many people are vacationing before school starts up again.
So we are informing all our boarders being dropped off for this weekend at this point. We will see how the next few days go to decide on future boarding and daycare reservations. We understand how frustrating this is for our clients. Believe me, it’s just as frustrating for us. But when dogs can spread illness without showing any signs of disease, there is no way for us to guarantee your dog won’t be exposed to a virus. Right now there isn’t a kennel in town that could guarantee that.
We are doing everything in our power to minimize exposure risk to your dog. Our kennel staff is working hard to disinfect everything your dog comes in contact with in our facility. If you have further questions or concerns, please call our clinic for more information.

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CIRD/CIV Update #7

So we seem to have dodged several bullets over the 4th of July boarding period at PHPH. As you all know, we were very worried about a very contagious CIRD virus we had in our kennel just before the 4th, one of our busiest boarding times of the year. Thanks to the hard work and fastidiousness of our exceptional kennel staff, we can report we only had one dog, in over more than 30 that boarded with us during that time, that may have developed a cough. It wasn’t a classical case and the dog didn’t start coughing until 10 days after boarding with us so we’re not sure if it was true CIRD or not. Regardless, we feel confident we have cleared the CIRD respiratory virus for now. We opened up dog playtime for our boarders and day care dogs as of last week.Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time and your confidence in us to look out for you and your four legged friends.

That is not to say people don’t need to stay vigilant about the disease. We are probably seeing an average of one coughing dog a day at our clinic who was exposed to the CIRD virus either at a different boarding facility or elsewhere. This CIRD virus will probably be around for the whole summer so you still need to be careful where and what you expose your dog to through our warm weather.

There has still only been one case of the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) found in a St Paul shelter over two months ago. No other cases have been reported in the Twin Cities since then. Hopefully the whole Twin Cities will dodge that bullet. But you can be certain we will keep you posted with the latest accurate information regarding these diseases.

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CIRD/CIV Update #6

We received good news today. All three samples we submitted to the diagnostic lab came up negative for CIV. That means these cases we have seen are just nasty cases of kennel cough or CIRD and all should respond well to the medicines we have prescribed. We are very thankful to find out we did not have CIV in our boarding kennel and so far have not seen any more cases of coughing dogs from our facility. We are doing everything in our power to protect the dogs who will be staying with us over the 4th and in the near future. But we also know there are some nasty bugs still out there so recommend everyone remain careful in regard to where your dogs go this summer. Again, we will keep you posted if anything changes. Thank you for your support through these trying times.

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