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1546 San Marco Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32207

February is Pet Dental Month

San Marco Animal Hospital will be running a pet dental month promotion throughout February to raise awareness of pet dental problems, prevention and treatment and the importance of thorough dental examinations.

Doctor with Cat & Dog

An initiative the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is to educate pet owners about the benefits of annual dental health checks and the importance of a thorough dental examination to help prevent gum disease.

Periodontal disease develops in animals for the same reasons as it does in humans. It is a result of the build-up of plaque on the surface of the teeth, around and under the gum line. While bad breath is usually what the owner notices first, usually other oral health issues have already begun to develop and progress. Your pet’s gums can be red, irritated, and may bleed easily. Gingival recession may begin to occur, exposing the roots of teeth, causing pain and damage. Periodontal disease is rated in stages from 1-4.

Stage 1 is the least severe, indicating the presence of inflammation and dental tartar, without the loss of tooth support, while stage 4 is the most severe, with severe tartar accumulation and gingival recession, and greater than 50% loss in tooth support. Severe periodontal disease can also lead to damage of internal organs such as the kidneys, heart, and liver.

San Marco Animal Hospital’s veterinarian Dr. Venkat Gutta said that four out of five dogs and cats over the age of three years have some sort of dental disease which may go unnoticed by their owners.

“Pets often won’t show pain. Even pets with sore gums, infected mouths, and broken teeth will continue to eat so owners may not see any problems,” Dr. Gutta said.

“About 80 percent of adult animals have some degree of dental disease, which becomes more severe with age.”

So, how can you tell if your dog or cat is in the early stages of dental disease?

Sample image of pet dental test

“Your pet’s breath should not smell bad. Bad breath can be a sign of infection. Gums may be red and inflamed and the teeth stained with tartar or they may start dropping food.

What are the most common dental problems a pet can have?

“In young pets, we most commonly see retained baby teeth or broken teeth. In older pets, we may see infections of the teeth and gums, slab fractures, often caused by chewing on hard bones, and tooth root abscesses”

Prevention is key to proper oral health in both humans and our pets! Just as humans brush our teeth on a regular basis, brushing is the most important preventative action that can be provided by an owner. Additionally, just as with human beings, annual professional dental cleanings are extremely important for our pet’s dental health. Dental cleanings performed by your veterinarian are done while your pet is under anaesthesia.

According to Dr. Gutta, “It’s in the best interests of your pet to have them examined and treated for dental disease while they are under anaesthesia. This ensures they experience no pain and are not placed under unnecessary stress. It also means that owners get the best value from their pet’s oral health exam because it is thorough and investigates everything above and below the gum line.

“At home, we also recommend regular tooth brushing and many cats and dogs can be trained to enjoy having their teeth brushed, especially if you start at an early age.”

So, Dr. Gutta, what is involved in a routine dental procedure?

“Prior to all dental procedures performed at San Marco Animal Hospital, a physical exam and pre-anaesthetic bloodwork are completed to ensure that each pet is a suitable candidate for the anaesthetic procedure. Some pets require x-rays to determine if there is any damage to the jaw and/or roots beneath the gum line. The dental cleaning is performed under anaesthesia, and while this occurs, your pet’s vitals are monitored continuously by an assistant technician. The procedure begins with cleaning the teeth. This is done using a scaler. The scaler removes the dental plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth, and from below the gum line. Next, the veterinarian completes an oral exam, probing between the gingival margins and the teeth, checking for loose or broken teeth, pockets, or damage within the mouth. If a pet requires extractions or fillings, these procedures are done next. Once completed, the teeth are polished, and a rinse is applied to the pet’s mouth. The pet wakes up from the procedure slowly, and is transferred back to their kennel to rest until the end of the day”

How often should dental procedures be completed?

“We recommend dental procedures to be completed annually on most pets that are above 3 years of age. Additionally, we recommend owners complete at-home preventive care throughout the year such as brushing the teeth, providing dental treats, and utilizing water additives.”

During February, San Marco Animal Hospital will be providing a discount for dental care to the pets of Jacksonville, Florida! San Marco Animal Hospital is offering 10% off of routine dental procedures, OR a FREE membership fee ($50 value) when signing up on their Standard or Intensive Care Wellness Plan Package.

San Marco Animal Hospital also is updating their social media accounts weekly to provide clients with fun facts and information about pet dental disease and at companion animal dental care.

Information is also available on the AVMA at and the AVA website at

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Meet San Marco Animal Hospital

Dr. Venkat Gutta
San Marco Animal Hospital

Dr. Venkat Gutta moved to the US almost two decades ago to further his passion for veterinary science. Having earned a Master’s Degree in Animal Science in Georgia and having completed the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, he completed clinical rotations at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Gutta then received his license to practice in Florida. For over a decade, he served as an associate veterinarian at the Banfield Pet Hospital. He benefitted from a great amount of exposure and experience, especially in high-quality veterinary medicine and surgeries for soft tissue injuries. To date, Dr. Gutta strives to be approachable to his clients and ensure that they have complete awareness and understanding of the health issues that are faced by their furry friends. His special interests lie in skin issues, behavioral problems, senior pet wellness, nutritional counseling, preventive care, and wellness examinations, particularly relevant to canine and feline medicine. Today Dr. Gutta continues to keep himself updated about modern advances in veterinary science through his memberships in the Jacksonville Veterinary Medical Society and American Veterinary Medical Association.

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Wonderful and very caring service. This hospital rate's are extremely fair and reasonable, they only perform the necessary testing needed unlike other vet places I have been to. I was very impressed with the knowledge and skills of the doctor. I finally found my new vet here in Florida! Lila and Gomez thank you!
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I took my cat to San Marco Animal Hospital and would highly recommend them. Dr. Gutta spent quite a bit of time talking to me about my cat’s health and preventative care. The staff was friendly and even called to check on my cat after his vaccines. Excellent service, and caring providers!
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