Breed Specific Dental Disorders



Dental problems are one of the most common problems veterinarians encounter with pets.  It is estimated that by 3 years of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some forms of oral disease.  While many conditions can be prevented with good dental hygiene and home care other conditions occur simply based on a cat’s or dog’s breed or genetics.  Here are some of the common    canine and feline breed specific dental conditions we frequently see in the veterinary field.

Small Breed dogs typically have too many teeth that are too large for their mouths.  Miniature mouths can lead to crowded teeth, bad breath, inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and periodontal disease.

Retained Deciduous Teeth (courtesy of American Veterinary Dental College)

We also commonly see retained deciduous or baby teeth.  The deciduous teeth are normally lost and replaced by permanent teeth by six months of age.  If the deciduous tooth doesn’t give way, or is retained, the permanent teeth can’t erupt in the correct place and instead are pushed into the roof of the mouth or to one side.  Retained deciduous teeth should be removed.

Common problems that you encounter with larger breed dogs, most commonly with boxers, are referred to as proliferating gum conditions, or more specifically gingival hyper-plasia and epulides (see pictures).   Your boxer may drool or avoid eating as the epulis enlarges. Interference from other teeth may cause the tumor to become irritated or bleed. Bad breath occurs with both hyperplasia and epulides.  While the causes of these conditions are unknown, hyperplasia may  result from inflammation at the gum line.  Brushing daily may help prevent hyperplasia.

Epulis in a Boxer

Some types of hyperplasia and epulides require surgery to  remove the excess tissue, with or without tooth extraction.  Food and hair may get caught between the gums and teeth, however, resulting in bacterial growth and tooth decay. In this situation, or if your boxer shows any signs of discomfort or pain due to the gum proliferation, pursue surgery sooner rather than later.

Sighthounds are predisposed to developing severe periodontal disease.  It is critical to start daily brushing and home care at a young age for these breeds, otherwise frequent periodontal therapy  under anesthesia may be necessary.

Gingival Hyperplasia

Finally, probably the most common dental problem in cats is the resorptive lesion.  It is estimated that 20-67% of cats have one or more of these lesions.  Feline resorptive lesions usually begin under the gingival margin and are caused by cells called odontoclasts, which are cells whose role is to absorb the bone and roots of baby teeth.   Unfortunately, these cells reabsorb the adult teeth instead causing lesions to occur under the gumline.  The premolars are most often affected and your cat will typically display extreme sensitivity if these lesions are touched.  Symptoms often include salivation, reluctance to eat and cherry red gums.  Diagnosis is via visual examination of the teeth and dental x-rays, and treatment usually involves extractions.

For specific questions about your pet or to schedule a free dental examination call us anytime at (510)549-1252.


Make Sure Your Pet is Protected This Spring!


We do our very best here at CVC to keep our clients informed and make sure that their pets are 100% protected.  For that reason, with the springtime approaching, we want to be sure that all of our clients are aware of the manufacturing problem involving the medication used to treat heartworm disease in dogs.  Merial, the drugmaker of the product immiticide (the only drug approved to kill adult heartworms), notified veterinarians across the country this past summer that their supplies were dwindling and asked practitioners to help conserve supplies by only ordering the product to treat dogs with severe heartworm infestation.  In a later letter dated August 9, 2011, by Merial’s Technical Services Department, the company confirmed that they were in-fact “officially out” of stock.

While the Berkeley area is typically not a highly heartworm prevalent area, we are encouraging our clients at this time to be proactive about the heath of their pets.  Merial is keeping us up to date on the status of the situation, but as it stands, they have no estimated date as to when production will resume.

Until that time, we are recommending that all pets be protected by some form of heartworm prevention.  There are several different types and variations available both on the market and through our clinic.  If your pet is not currently taking any heartworm prevention, we strongly recommend getting a heartworm test performed first.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding Merial or a heartworm preventative for your pet, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss the matter further with one of our doctors, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (510)549-1252.


In honor of Pet Dental Health Month in February,

CVC is running a few specials to help you stay on top of your pet’s Oral Health!

  • Free Dental Exams
  • 25% Discount off the cost of a Complete Dental Treatment
  • Discounted Dental Home Care Package

For questions or details about any of these offers, call us or

schedule an appointment today!