Dental health is a key component of the Animal Health Department’s preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami.
A variety of issues ranging from gum disease to broken teeth can lead to critical care issues that may result in serious infection and even death without treatment.
Because animals generally do not complain about dental pain, dental disease often is referred to as “silent suffering” in the animal health field. By the time serious signs such as loss of appetite and weight are evident, the disease or infection process may be quite advanced and can be a debilitating and sometimes fatal issue in animals that do not receive the proper care.
As part of the overall preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami, dental exams are routinely done on a variety of animals during regular general health exams. If and when issues are diagnosed, depending on the severity of the problem, Zoo Miami’s team of veterinarians will either perform the treatment themselves, or, when there are more complicated cases, enlist the assistance of a veterinary dental specialist.
Recently, veterinary dentist Dr. Jamie Berning, DVM, DAVDC, from Midwest Mobile Veterinary Dentistry, along with her veterinary technician, Jill A. Bates, RVT, traveled from their home in Columbus, OH to perform a series of procedures on a variety of animals including a lioness, gorilla, chimpanzee, tapir, aardvark and otters. The procedures were done over several days and ranged from general consults, cleanings and exams to extractions and root canals.
All of the patients have since been returned to their habitats, certainly much more comfortable following the extraordinary care they received during “Dental Week” at Zoo Miami.