Your dog or cat was just diagnosed with dental decay and will require an extraction along with a good dental cleaning. As much as you want your pet to be healthy and happy, you cannot stop worrying about your furry friend having to go under the anesthesia. You wish there were alternatives to having this procedure done since your pet is approaching its geriatric years, but unfortunately there are none. Here are some tips to hopefully ease your concerns.
Is Anesthesia Really Necessary?
Dental cleanings and any other procedures requiring oral care, require the use of anesthetics. The main reason for this is for the pet’s safety sake. Your veterinarian will be scaling tartar off your pet’s pearly whites using sonic power scalers and sharp hand held instruments that may cause serious harm should the dog or cat make sudden head movements. Because the use of such instruments are certainly a frightening experience for most dogs and cats and because most pets will not keep their mouths open for the time required, collaboration is essentially close to none.
What if My Dog is Too Old?
Aging is really not considered a disease in veterinary care. However, geriatric pets require special attention and specific pre-anesthetic blood-work tests may help shed some light on the pet’s proper organ functionality and overall health status. Isoflurane or Sevoflurane anesthesia which are used for human infants, are often the anesthetics of choice for geriatric pets because of their safety margin and because they allow a faster induction while offering the benefit of speedier recovery rates.
How Safe is The Procedure?
Dental cleanings are routine procedures almost done on a daily basis such as spay and neuter surgeries. While the procedure is not invasive as surgeries that require cutting through tissue, the risk of complications from the anesthesia remain quite the same. It is however somewhat comforting to know that the risks of anesthesia complications may occur only in 1 every 100,000 animals.
What Can I Ask the Veterinarian to Feel Reassured?
Make sure that pre-anesthetic bloodwork is done days prior or the morning of the procedure. Ask about the type of anesthetic being used and its safety margin especially for senior pets. Check if an oximeter is used to monitor your dog’s vitals. Inquire about the use of a warm pad to keep your pet’s temperature from dropping during recovery. Ask for the option of providing fluids after the procedure to help the dog or cat recover faster.
What Can I do To Ensure the Procedure Goes Well?
Owners on their side may also help their pets go through the procedure safely as well. They must be strict on the “nothing by mouth” policy as required by their veterinarian the night prior. In most cases, no more food must be given after 6 PM, however each hospital has its own protocols. Feeding food or treats when not allowed may cause potential complications such as vomiting during surgery following by the aspiration of food in the lungs. Ensure all your family is aware of this: it is easy for a family member to forget or be unaware of this important requirement. Dental decay does not affect only your pet’s eating. It may affect vital organs as well. Bacteria from dental decay may travel to organs such as the heart, kidney and liver ultimately even causing these organs to fail. This is particularly relevant in geriatric pets.
How Important is Having a Pet’s Teeth Cleaned?
Dental cleaning and oral care involves much more than allowing a cat or dog to get rid of bad breath and eat well again. Bacteria from decayed teeth has the potential to travel and reach vital organs such as heart, kidneys and liver, even causing them to ultimately fail.
As seen, dental cleanings are not that intimidating after all. Many owners of senior dogs and cats often report that their pets seems to return to a puppy or kitten like state once they are able to eat much more comfortably and deal with no more oral pain.