VIDEO: Puma at Minnesota Zoo gets a day with the dentist

BLAINE, Minn. – Pumas are swift,  powerful and graceful cats. But it turns out they have something in common with humans: They may not enjoy visiting the dentist.

That’s why the Minnesota Zoo and BluePearl Veterinary Partners acted with great care on Monday to give a male puma a dental exam.puma3

The puma is 14 years old, weighs 103 pounds and came to the Zoo as an orphaned cub in 2001. Like a person suffering from a toothache, he had a swollen cheek. He was also reluctant to eat whole-prey food items, preferring instead to consume ground meat.

He was sedated for an exam during which Dr. Jim Rasmussen of the Minnesota Zoo identified two fractured teeth.

On Monday, Dr. Donnell Hansen, a BluePearl veterinarian who is board-certified in veterinary dentistry and oral surgery, came to the Zoo for an exam.  The puma was anesthetized – the only practical way to conduct a complete dental exam on a non-domestic  cat. Hansen confirmed the two fractured teeth and took dental radiographs to fully assess the situation.  She determined one of the premolars required surgical extraction, but was able to salvage the other premolar by administering root canal therapy.

puma5“The extraction and root canal went really well and I think his prognosis is excellent,” Hansen said afterward. “He should be much more comfortable now.

“We strive to give all our animals the best possible care, and feel very fortunate to have local board certified specialists willing to consult on our challenging medical cases.  We have been watching this puma carefully,” Rasmussen added. “And we’re also grateful to have a dentist who makes house calls.”

Board-certified veterinary dentists are specially trained in advanced oral surgery, medicine and dentistry. In addition to board-certified dentists, BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospitals in the Minneapolis area also have specialists in cardiology, critical care, dentistry, internal medicine, neurology, oncology and surgery.