Although owners try to brush their pets’ teeth, not all dogs or cats are cooperative when it comes to dental hygiene. In that case, you might want to consider scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian to have their teeth professionally and thoroughly cleaned.
Cats and dogs have the same problems with tartar and gum disease just like us, so it’s important that they receive the same type of dental care that we do.
Just like our dentists do for us, the vet can do a good check of all your pet’s teeth, take x-rays, clean and polish them, and remove any diseased or infected teeth.
One of my client’s cats had a bad cavity on one tooth and it had to be extracted during his cleaning. It was a good thing the vet discovered it because it basically crumbled into pieces when he pulled it out.
When your pet has a tooth or teeth extracted, your vet may also give you pain medication or antibiotics for your pet, and pain management instructions.
Having a pet’s teeth cleaned isn’t like your trip to the dentist, however. It’s a little more serious because to conduct a thorough check and teeth-cleaning, your vet will have to use anesthesia.
Risks of Pet Teeth Cleaning
There are risks involved with any type of procedure that involves anesthesia. The first thing you should do is to discuss the topic with your vet and gain an understanding of the subject.
Before a vet puts any pet under anesthesia, he will most likely do a thorough physical exam to ensure that your pet is healthy. Vets can also perform various other tests to check that the major organs – heart, lungs, kidneys, liver – are functioning properly.
You will want your vet to be able to identify any existing conditions like heart or lung problems before making the decision to put him under anesthesia and what type of anesthetic to use.
Age is a also a big consideration in the decision to put a pet under anesthesia. The older the pet, the riskier it is.
Just like in humans, food should be withheld from the animal at least 12 hours before surgery. Water should not be given at least 4 hours before surgery. Some vets may vary in their instructions, so double check with your vet beforehand.
Anesthetics can be administered through an injection or by having your pet inhale gas. Some vets will administer a sedative before general anesthesia is given to calm the animal and also to lessen the amount of the general anesthetic needed.
After the animal is sedated, the vet will put in an intravenous (IV) catheter in a vein so the vet has ready access to the animal’s blood stream and can provide the general anesthetic or any other fluids or medications quickly if they are needed.
A breathing or endotracheal tube will also be inserted down the animal’s throat to ensure that the airway is clear and that breathing will not be obstructed in any way.
If a gas is used as anesthetic, the right mix of an anesthetic and oxygen is given to the animal through the tube.
During the procedure, the vet can monitor your pet’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing, to ensure that all is normal during the procedure.
Caring for Pets After Teeth Cleaning
You should also talk to your vet about caring for your pet after any procedure that involves anesthesia. Every animal reacts differently to anesthesia and some recover more quickly than others after waking up.
Some animals may remain lethargic or groggy for hours or even days after the procedure. If an anesthetic was injected into your pet, it will take longer for his body to rid itself of it. If a gas anesthetic was used, the pet just needs to breathe it out of his system.
When he’s recovering, make sure to keep your pet in a warm (not hot), comfortable, quiet environment.
Your pet may exhibit behavioral changes, so it’s usually recommended that you don’t leave a pet alone with other animals or children during recovery. A confused or uncomfortable animal may become aggressive and strike out.
Overweight animals may take longer to rid their bodies of the anesthesia. Watch your pet carefully and if you think he is not recovering as expected, take him to the vet.
Because anesthesia can be potentially dangerous for your pet, don’t hesitate to ask your vet questions and discuss any concerns you have.
Together with your vet, you can determine if a professional cleaning is the right thing for your pet. Discuss any pre-anesthesia tests, the procedure itself, and the after-care your pet may need.