"Cavities" is the common term for dental decay, more properly known as caries, which is Latin for rottenness. Caries is one of the most common diseases in man but is less commonly seen in dogs, however, it can and does occur and your veterinarian should be checking for them at every dental cleaning.

When identified early, caries can be treated effectively by a qualified veterinarian with the training necessary to perform the procedure. If caries are left untreated, the decay will continue to destroy tooth structure until bacteria reach the pulp chamber, causing in internal infection and eventually killing the tooth. Early cavities may not be painful or only cause slight sensitivity while chewing. As the decay progresses into the more sensitive parts of the tooth, it causes significant pain.

Caries in dogs are typically treated in the same way as cavities in humans with removal of the dead and infected tooth material followed by restoration (filling) of the defect in the tooth surface.

  Dental Decay (Caries) in a Dog   Canine Dental Restoration for a Cavity  
  Dental decay (Caries) in a dog can lead to more serious health issues for your canine pet.   A qualified vet can treat the infected tooth and perform a restoration of the tooth surface.  

Marvin's Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis

  Cat Marvin Post Dental Extraction
  Marvin is feeling much better
these days!

Marvin is a friendly 1 1/2 year old cat that was experiencing persistent pain and gum inflammation in his mouth for the past year. It was determined by Dr. Hoelscher that Marvin had Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis, a disease of the feline oral cavity in which the local immune system becomes hyper-reactive to the presence of plaque and bacteria. Following extraction of most of his teeth, pain control, and medication to control the body's immune system, Marvin is on his way to feeling much better.

Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis - Before
Marvin's inflamed gums before
dental extraction.

Maggy's Retained Deciduous Canine Teeth

Dog Maggy at Animal Hospital of VeronaMaggy is a very cute Teddy Bear mix puppy who recently saw Dr. Smith to treat retained deciduous canine teeth (see Before photo). These teeth normally are lost on their own by a puppy at around 5 months of age. In some dogs these teeth are retained, and the "baby teeth" can then force the emerging adult teeth into the wrong position potentially causing pain, periodontal disease, and displacement of normal teeth.

Treatment of retained deciduous teeth involves using a general anesthesia, then making an incision in the gum tissue, carefully using a dental drill to remove bone around the retained tooth, and gentle elevation and removal of the tooth. The gum tissue is then sutured back into place with a fine absorbable suture.

The results: Happy Dog, Happy Family!

Canine Retained Baby Teeth - Before   Canine Retained Baby Teeth - After
Maggy's Teeth – BEFORE   Maggy's Teeth – AFTER

To Extract or Not to Extract

Your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with a fractured tooth! Now what should we do? One option is extraction. The other option is root canal therapy. "Wait and See" or monitoring are NOT options and neither is antibiotic treatment.

How do we choose which option is best? Certain teeth such as canines, maxillary fourth premolars and mandibular first molars are considered strategic teeth. They are large, functionally important teeth. These teeth can be quite difficult to extract and creates a large wound with which your veterinarian will need to deal. Regardless of the option you, as the pet owner, chooses, a thorough, anesthetized exam by a qualified veterinarian is necessary to determine the best treatment plan for your pet. See the pros and cons for each option below.


Tooth Extraction

  • Less difficult
  • Requires far less equipment
  • It is a final solution
  • Less expensive in many (but not all) cases
  • Once the wound has healed, there is no need for follow-up
  • Loss of form and function of the tooth
  • Creates a wound that has to heal and is at risk of failing to heal
  • More surgical trauma and more post-operative pain
  • The procedure can be awfully simple or simply awful
  • In cats, extraction of lower canines will often lead to a painful condition called lip entrapment. (see photos below)



Root Canal Therapy

  • No wound to heal, so immediate return to normal activity
  • Preserves normal form and function of the tooth
  • Far less, if any, post-operative pain
  • Very few veterinarians have acquired the extra training to allow them to perform this procedure
  • Requires a lot of specialized equipment and is, therefore, more expensive
  • The procedure takes longer than most extractions
  Cat Root Canal X-ray of Cat's Tooth Post Root Canal  
  Dog Root Canal X-ray of Dog's Tooth Post Root Canal  

Plaque and tartar buildup can cause oral infections, bad breath, infected gum tissues, or even bone loss in pets. Check out these simple steps on how to brush your pet's teeth at home.

  1. Dachshund Dog with ToothbrushKeep sessions limited to one minute each at the same time and place daily.

  2. Start by getting your pet used to having something placed in the mouth. Place your finger (unless your pet is a biter!), dipped in lukewarm water or warm diluted bouillon, inside the cheek along the outer surfaces of the teeth. Follow with praise and reward.

  3. Once your pet has accepted this procedure, progress to a dampened gauze pad or panty hose wrapped around your finger. Gently sweep across the outer surfaces of each tooth. Follow with praise. Continue daily until your pet accepts this with little objection.

  4. Moisten a pet CET toothbrush with a pet toothpaste (available through your veterinarian). The cheek should be gently pulled away from the teeth and the brush inserted at a 45 degree angle between tooth and cheek. Concentrate on the area where tooth meets gum using short, gentle strokes over the external surfaces (especially the cheek teeth in the back). Praise your pet during and after each session.

  5. Have a veterinary dental exam done every 6 months to help assure good dental health and possibly prolong the life of your pet.
Courtesy of Dr. Debra Fiorito, board-certified veterinary dental specialist in New Jersey.

Did you know that dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets?

Symptoms of dental disease include:

  Pet Dental Cleaning - BEFORE
  Pet Dental Cleaning - AFTER
  • Dental plaque and tartar on the teeth
  • Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
  • Periodontal disease (progressive destruction of gum and bony tissues)
  • Abscesses (pockets of infection associated with the teeth)
  • Cavities or cavity-like erosions (in cats)

Unfortunately, dental disease may result in life-threatening heart, kidney, and liver disease if left untreated. In addition, pets with dental disease may develop bad breath, bleeding from the mouth, and/or nasal discharge.

Professionally cleaning your pet's teeth is recommended in the treatment of a pet with dental disease. This involves the use of a variety of dental scalers and then polishing the teeth. Dental x-rays are usually taken as well.

Pets affected with dental disease may also benefit from:

  • gum procedures (periodontics)
  • root canals (endodontics)
  • restorative dentistry (e.g., fillings)
  • extractions

In most cases, a dental procedure requires an anesthetic involving a one-day stay in the hospital. Pre-anesthetic blood testing is required for all patients. Some pets may require additional tests (EKG, chest x-rays, etc.) prior to the use of an anesthetic.

After the necessary treatment, you can help in the slowing of the dental disease by feeding your pet hard foods and brushing his or her teeth. An animal whose owner brushes his teeth is a happier, healthier pet!

Courtesy of Dr. Debra Fiorito, board-certified veterinary dental specialist in New Jersey.

Animal Hospital of Verona has been on the leading edge of providing superior advanced veterinary dentistry services to our colleagues since 1988. Our facility is equipped with the latest laboratory technology, including digital dental x-ray.

We provide communication and follow-up to referring veterinarians allowing the primary care veterinarian to play the active role in their patient's health management.

How to Refer a Patient for Advanced Dentistry Services

If you'd like to refer one of your patients to us, please do one of the following:

Meet Our Dental Care Team

Brian Hoelscher, DVM

Brian Hoelscher, DVM Dr. Hoelscher has been pursuing his passion for veterinary dentistry for over 10 years. He has undergone extensive training in advanced dentistry and oral surgery and works with referring veterinarians from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan. Dr. Hoelscher enjoys working with pet owners to formulate a treatment plan that best fits both patient and owner needs.

Carolyn Pauly, CVT, VTS – Dentistry (candidate)

Carolyn Pauly, CVT, VTS – Dentistry (candidate) Carolyn has been a veterinary technician for over 9 years and has had a love of veterinary dentistry since her first dental cleaning. She is pursuing a Veterinary Technician Specialty (VTS) in Dentistry through the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians. Carolyn enjoys teaching pet owners about proper dental homecare techniques and is passionate about anesthesia and pain management during dental procedures.





Annual veterinary care is crucial to keeping your pet happy and healthy. Click the icons below to learn more about what your veterinarian can do for your pet.

  Pet Exams icon   Pet Vaccines icon  

Exams check overall health and detect problems before they become severe or costly.


Vaccines protect against common and fatal diseases based on your pet's age and lifestyle.

Pet Dental & Oral Care icon   Veterinary Lab Tests icon   Parasite Prevention icon
Dental and oral care prevents bad breath and diseases that could become life-threatening.   Lab tests diagnose and prevent sickness or injury in safe and non-invasive ways.   Parasite prevention treats and protects against deadly heartworms, parasites, and flea/tick infestations.
  Pet Nutrition icon   Spaying & Neutering icon  
  Nutrition ensures your pet gets the balanced diet it needs and maintains a healthy weight.   Spaying and neutering protects pets from serious health and behavioral problems.  

Care Guides for Pet Owners

Your pet's health also depends on you. Click on the icons below to learn more about what pet owners can do at home to keep their pets living a long, healthy life.

Pet Home Care icon   Care for Pets at All Ages icon   Pet Ages & Stages icon

Home care is just as important as veterinary care in keeping your pet happy and healthy.


Care for all ages includes veterinary care and home care tips for your pet at every age.


Ages and stages is our chart to help you find out your pet's age in "human years."

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Bringing your pets to the veterinarian for a physical exam every year is the smartest and easiest way to keep them healthy. Exams allow your veterinarian to detect any problems before they become severe or costly.

Pet Exams for Dogs and CatsYour Veterinarian Will Check...

  • muscular and skeletal health by feeling for healthy muscle mass and joint pain.

  • neurologic system – it could indicate birth defects in younger pets, and cognitive issues in older pets.

  • appropriate weight and  lifestyle for your pet's age.

  • lymph nodes – swollen nodes can indicate a wound, virus, infection or some other illness.

  • vital signs (temperature, pulse and respiration) – an abnormal reading could indicate illness.

  • skin and coat condition for growths, infection wounds and overall skin health.

Bring Your Pet to the Veterinarian Every Year for a Clean Bill of Health and Peace of Mind

Your pet can't tell us what's wrong. But routine physical exams can help your veterinarian detect any problems or diseases you might not have otherwise picked up on, including heart murmurs, tumors, enlarged organs, cataracts, ear infections, ear mites, dental and gum disease, skin issues and allergies.

Download the Pet Exams handout

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Vaccines protect against common diseases that your pets may become exposed to.

Did You Know?

Vaccines have about a 95% success rate for preventing infections and fatal diseases.

  Canine Vaccines


The rabies vaccine is required by law and protects against the fatal illness. Rabies can be transmitted to other pets and people through the bite of an infected animal.

Distemper (DHPP)

This combination vaccine protects against viruses that cause life-threatening neurologic, respiratory and gastrointestinal issues.


This vaccine protects against a bacteria that can cause deadly kidney or liver disease. Leptospirosis is also transmissible to people.


This vaccine helps prevent Lyme disease, which is easily transmitted through the bite of an infected tick.


Lifestyle Vaccines

These might be recommended if your dog visits boarding facilities, groomers, training classes, dog parks, and other social settings.


This vaccine protects against an airborne respiratory virus known as "Kennel Cough."

Canine Influenza

The canine influenza vaccine protects against a contagious respiratory infection.

  Feline Vaccines


The rabies vaccine is required by law and protects against the fatal illness. Rabies can be transmitted to other pets and people through the bite of an infected animal.

Distemper (FVRCP)

This combination vaccine protects against viruses that cause life-threatening respiratory and gastrointestinal issues.

Lifestyle Vaccine

This is given to all outdoor cats, including those who go out occasionally -even if it's just on an open porch.

Feline Leukemia

This vaccine protects against the contagious and often fatal disease, which is easily spread between cats.




Vaccines are the key to a long and healthy life. Your veterinarian will suggest the best vaccines for your pet based on age, medical history and lifestyle.


Download the Pet Vaccines handout

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Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets. Without proper preventive or home care, plaque and tartar can build up, which may cause oral infections, bad breath, infected gum tissues (gingivitis) or even bone loss (periodontitis).

Did You Know?

It's not normal for your pet to have bad breath – it can be a sign of serious dental or gum issues.

Pet Dental & Oral Care


Sixty percent of dental disease is hidden below the gum line, and can only be found with x-rays. Brush your pet's teeth regularly and check with your veterinarian about screenings, cleanings and products available to help keep those pearly whites clean.


Download the Pet Dental & Oral Care handout

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Yearly lab tests are safe and non-invasive ways to diagnose and prevent sickness or injuries in pets that a physical exam cannot detect.

  Dog and Cat icon

Blood Screening

A blood screening checks for anemia, parasites, infections, organ function and sugar levels. It is important to get a blood test annually for your pet, to help your veterinarian establish a benchmark for normal values and easily see any changes that may point to problems.


This test has the ability to screen for diabetes, urinary tract infections, bladder/kidney stones, as well as dehydration and early kidney disease.

Intestinal Parasite Check

Using a stool sample, your veterinarian can check to see if your pet has parasites. Many parasites can be passed on to humans, so it is important to complete this screening annually, especially if your pet has any symptoms including upset stomach, loss of appetite and weight loss.


Routine testing can add years to your pet's life. Your veterinarian will recommend lab tests appropriate for your pet based on age and lifestyle.

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  Dog Icon

Canine Tests

Your veterinarian may check for the presence of heartworms in your dog, as well as the three common tick-borne diseases – Lyme, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia Canis.
  Cat icon

Feline Tests

A combination test checks for heartworm, Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FeLV and FIV are serious diseases that weaken the immune system, making cats susceptible to a variety of infections and other diseases. FeLV is spread through casual contact, and FIV is transmitted primarily through bite wounds. They can also be transferred to cats by their mothers. Any new pets, or sick/stray cats entering a household, should be tested.

Blood Pressure Testing

Senior cats are routinely tested for high blood pressure. It may occur as a secondary disease to another illness and is commonly seen in older cats. But it can affect a cat at any age and cause damage to the eyes, heart, brain and kidneys. A new heart murmur or alterations in your cat's eyes during a routine exam may prompt your veterinarian to take a blood pressure reading.


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Prevention is the best approach in protecting your pet against deadly heartworms, intestinal parasites, and flea and tick infestations. Your veterinarian will help you find the product that is right for your pet based on his or her needs.


are assessed visually by your veterinarian.

  Flea icon


Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid. All cats and dogs are susceptible to flea infestations. Beyond the skin irritation and discomfort, flea infestations can also cause deadly infections, flea-allergy dermatitis (OUCH!) and the transmission of tapeworm parasites if ingested.

Tick icon


Ticks can spread serious infectious diseases such as Lyme, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis to pets and people. Pet owners should inspect their pets regularly for ticks, large and small, especially after being outside in a wooded or grassy area.


are assessed by blood tests and fecal exams.

  Intestinal Parasite icon

Intestinal Parasites

Roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, whipworm, Coccidia, Giardia and Cryptosporidium are all common in cats and dogs. Many of these parasites can be transmitted to you and your family if your pet becomes infected.

Heartworm icon


Mosquitoes can spread heartworm, a harmful disease that affects both dogs and cats. As its name implies, heartworm lives in the blood of a pet's heart and blood vessels. We recommend annual screenings for both dogs and cats, even if they are already on heartworm preventatives.


Life is better for your pet and family without parasites.
Let us help you choose your flea, tick, heartworm and
intestinal parasite preventatives today!


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Just like humans, an animal's diet directly affects its overall health and well-being. Allowing a pet to overeat, or to consume the wrong foods, may lead to a wide variety of ailments including obesity, diabetes and arthritis.

Did You Know?

Over 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are obese or overweight.

Proper Nutrition

Although we think of our pets as family members, they shouldn’t be allowed to eat like us. Maintaining a proper diet will help keep your pet at a healthy weight. Be sure not to overfeed, and that you are providing a diet tailored to your pet's breed, age, weight and medical history.

Common Foods To Avoid

Think twice about feeding your pet table scraps. Common foods such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic could be dangerous to an animal. Some non-food items like lily plants and antifreeze are also toxic to pets. Check with your veterinarian if your pet has ingested anything questionable.
Pet Nutrition


Growth Diet

Growing puppies and kittens need more nutrient-dense food than adults. Ask your veterinarian which food is right for this stage of life. Cats switch to an adult diet right after being spayed or neutered, no matter what the age, to decrease the likelihood of obesity and related conditions.

Adult Diet

Selecting an adult dog or cat food that will keep your pet healthy and energetic starts with knowing your pet's lifestyle. Does your dog weigh just the right amount and go for long walks daily? Or is it a lap dog that loves nothing more than to snooze the day away? Talk to your veterinarian about these issues to help guide you in choosing the best food for your pet.

Senior Diet

Your senior dog or cat may need fewer calories, less fat, and more fiber as he or she ages. Many older pets can continue eating the food they always have – just a little less to compensate for not being as active. Check with your veterinarian which food and amount is best for your pet.


Every pet ages differently. Your veterinarian can help you determine the best diet for your pet's needs.


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Spaying or neutering can protect your pet from serious health and behavioral problems later in life. It also helps control the stray animal population.

Spaying or Neutering Reduces the Risk of...

Uterine Disease

Known as a pyometra, this is a potentially life-threatening condition which can be very expensive to treat. It is 100% preventable if your pet is spayed.

Mammary Tumors (Breast Cancer)

Over one-half of all mammary tumors are malignant and can spread to other areas of the body. Early spaying, prior to your pet beginning its heat cycles, significantly reduces the incidence of tumor formation.

Testicular Cancer

This cancer, as well as prostatitis (an infection causing malignant or benign swelling of the prostate), can be greatly reduced with early neutering.


Behavioral Problems

Unwanted behaviors such as dominance aggression, marking territory and wandering can be avoided with spaying or neutering.


There are more puppies and kittens in shelters than there are people willing to provide them with love and care. Sadly, many are euthanized. Spaying or neutering can help reduce the number of animals in need of homes.Cat and Dog graphic


Spayed and neutered pets live healthier and longer lives! Consider the benefits to your pet and the community, and ask us when is the best time to spay or neuter your pet.


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Make your pet's well-being a priority. See your veterinarian regularly and follow these tips to keep your pet happy and healthy.


Your veterinarian will give you a recommendation for a high quality and nutritious diet for your pet, and advise you on how much and how often to feed him or her. Diets may vary by species, breed and age.


Microchipping is a safe and permanent identification option to ensure your pet's return should he or she get lost. Ask us about the process and get your pet protected.


Always keep your dog on a leash in public, and your cat indoors to protect them from common hazards such as cars and other animals.


Frequent brushing keeps your pet's coat clean and reduces the occurrence of shedding, matting and hairballs. Depending on the breed, your pet may also need professional groomings.

Dental and Oral Health

Brush your pet's teeth regularly and check with your veterinarian about professional cleanings as well as dental treats and products available to help prevent bad breath, gingivitis, periodontitis and underlying disease. Although your pet's teeth may look healthy, significant disease could be hidden below the gum line.



Be sure to spend at least 15 minutes a day playing with your cat to keep him or her active and at a healthy weight. All dogs need routine exercise to stay fit, but the requirements vary by breed and age. Ask us what's best for your dog. Doggy daycares and boarding facilities are other ways to help to burn off some energy and socialize your pets.


Enroll your dog in training classes to improve his or her behavior with pets and people. Cats need minimal training. Be sure to provide them with a litter box beginning at four weeks of age.

Environmental Enrichment

Entertain your pet's natural instincts by using toys that encourage them to jump and run. Cats especially need to fulfill their instinct to hunt – provide interactive toys that mimic prey like a laser pointer or feathers on a wand. You can also hide treats in your pet's toys or around the house to decrease boredom while you're away.Pet Care at Home


Be Your Pet's Guardian Angel

Call us if your pet experiences vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, lethargy, trouble breathing, excessive drinking or urinating, wheezing or coughing, pale gums, discharge from nose, swollen eye or discharge, limping, and/or difficulty passing urine or stool as these may be signs of illness.


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Every animal is unique, and the start of each stage of life calls for different home and veterinary care. Check with your veterinarian to establish a proactive wellness plan to keep your pet happy and healthy throughout its life.

Annual Wellness

Puppies and kittens must receive a series of properly staged vaccines and physical exams. During these exams, your veterinarian may also recommend parasite preventatives or lab tests.

Adult pets will need to continue visiting the veterinarian annually for physical exams, recommended vaccines and routine testing.

Senior pets can develop similar problems seen in older people, including heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and arthritis. Your veterinarian may recommend biannual visits to ensure your pet's quality of life.


Females spayed before their first heat cycle will be less likely to get uterine infections, ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Males neutered at any age will be less likely to get prostate disease. Spaying or neutering also helps prevent behavioral problems like marking and escaping. Talk to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your pet.


Pets require different types of food to support each life stage. Growing puppies and kittens need more nutrient-dense food than adults while adult dogs and cats need food that will keep them healthy and energetic. Your senior dog or cat may need fewer calories, less fat, and more fiber as he or she ages. Talk to your veterinarian to determine what's appropriate for your pet.

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Adult dogs should stay active with daily walks and one-on-one training. Keep your adult cats fit by using toys that encourage them to run and jump, and be sure to give them at least 15 minutes of playtime a day.

Weight management of your senior dog or cat is extremely important to ensure they are at an ideal body weight and able to move around comfortably.


Behavioral issues are a major cause of pet abandonment. Begin training your puppy or kitten right away to prevent bad habits and establish good ones.

Start house training your puppy as soon as you get home. Keep your puppy supplied with plenty of chew toys so he or she gets used to gnawing on those and not your belongings.

All cats need a litter box, which should be in a quiet, accessible room. Place your kitten in the box after a meal or whenever it appears he or she needs to go. Be sure to scoop out solids daily and empty it out completely once a week. The number of boxes in your household should be the total of number of cats plus one.

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Animals age at a faster rate than humans do, and your pet's health needs will evolve over time. Use this chart to figure out your pet's age in human years, and check with your veterinarian to establish a wellness plan specific to your young, adult or senior pet.

Pet Ages & Stages Chart

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