Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dental Care for Your Pet

September is Senior Wellness month and we have been focusing on common health issues that affect our older pets, here on our blog. Periodontal disease is a serious health problem in senior pets and can be an underlying cause for age-related medical conditions like heart, kidney, and liver disease.  If your pet has visible plaque, chronic bad breath, red, swollen or bleeding gums, or if they salivate excessively, they could be suffering from periodontal disease. 

Periodontal disease can be a problem for cats and dogs of any age, so it is important to be vigilant in preventative care early on in their lives. The following information goes over dental care for your pet, what happens during a dental cleaning at our practice, and what you can expect afterward.  For the month of September we are offering $50 off a dental cleaning for senior pets!

Why is routine dental care important for my pet?
Our pets are susceptible to the same dental and periodontal diseases as us, and if left untreated it can lead to painful conditions with serious consequences. By age 4, most dogs and cats already have periodontal disease. And severe cases of dental disease can lead to life threatening conditions. So it’s very important to follow a routine of preventative dental care for your pet.

Preventative dental care includes:
1. Brushing your pet’s teeth every day.
  •  There are toothbrushes and toothpastes made especially for pets to help make it easier on both of you. The toothpastes come in flavors that pets enjoy, and are designed to be harmless if swallowed. Human toothpastes should not be used, because they can cause harm if swallowed. Pet toothbrushes are designed with double-ended brushing heads designed to fit a pet’s mouth, and soft bristles for their sensitive gums. If you establish this as a regular part of your routine early on with your pet, it is much easier to maintain this healthy habit. Just hold your pet’s head lightly with one hand, and use the other hand to clean with the toothbrush and paste.
  • Initially to get your pet to accept tooth brushing, you can use a gauze pad filled with toothpaste. wrapped around your forefinger, and rub it back and forth on the teeth. It is not as effective as a toothbrush, but can be a helpful first step to establishing regular tooth brushing.

2. Regular checkups with your pet’s veterinarian.
  •  This can help identify potential problems early on, allowing earlier, easier, and less costly treatments.

3. Annual dental cleanings.
  •    If necessary, your pet may need a yearly dental cleaning, which requires your pet to be under general anesthesia.

Why does my pet need to be under anesthesia during a dental cleaning?
Performing the dental cleaning while your pet is under general anesthesia allows for complete cleaning of both the inside and the outside of the teeth, allows for subgingival cleaning and scaling, allows for probing to look for pockets or neck lesions, and allows a full oral exam to be completed to look for any other abnormalities such as tumors or epulis.
In addition, dental cleanings can be a frightening experience even for people, let alone for pets.
The whirr of dental tools and odd sensations in their mouth are not something they are used to experiencing. So for the safety of everyone involved, we do all dental cleanings under general anesthesia.

What is the average cost of the procedure*?

Under 5 years old
Over 5 years old

If extractions are needed

If extractions are needed
*Average prices listed are before any promotional discount is applied.
**Preventative Care Discount: Take 15% off your entire Dental Package if your pet has had a dental performed at our hospital in the last 18 months. This discount cannot be used with any other discounts.
The dental procedure includes the pre-anesthetic exam, pre-anesthetic blood work, IV catheter and fluids, anesthesia, dental cleaning, and a complementary toe nail trim. If extractions are needed, additional charges will apply.
How should I prepare my pet for the procedure?
Do not allow your pet to eat after 10pm the night before the procedure. You may leave water available, but only in small amounts. Do not let them gulp down a large amount. In most cases your pet's doctor will advise you to administer any regular medications as you usually would.
Check with your pet's doctor if you have specific questions regarding medications the morning of the procedure.

What happens during the procedure?
When you bring in your pet on the day of their dental, you will meet with an admit technician who will review your estimate with you and go over any preferences or questions you may have before you drop them off. A deposit will be taken, and you will need to fill out some forms. The admit technician will explain that once your pet is brought back to the Treatment area, their pre-op will begin. A pre-anesthetic exam will be performed by their doctor, and pre-anesthetic blood work will be drawn and run in our in-house laboratory. Pre-anesthetic blood work is important to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia and that their body will be able to process the anesthetic agents properly.
If everything is acceptable, your pet will then be anesthetized. Most pets will have an intravenous catheter placed to administer the anesthetic, to provide fluid therapy during the procedure, and it allows us immediate access should your pet require additional medications.
After your pet is anesthetized, a breathing tube will be placed in their trachea or windpipe. This will allow the delivery of oxygen and the gas anesthetic directly into the lungs. The technician will remove the plaque and tartar using both hand scaling and ultrasonic scaling, and they will polish the teeth. Polishing smooths and protects the clean surface, and the fluoride in the polishing paste strengthens the tooth enamel. The doctor will evaluate your pet’s mouth and determine if any teeth need to be extracted or if any additional treatments are required. Extraction of teeth is only done if leaving the tooth in place will be detrimental to the health of your pet.

How soon can my pet go home after the procedure?
Your pet will need 3-4 hours to recover here at the hospital following their procedure. The technician or the doctor will call you to let you know that the procedure is finished and that your pet is in recovery, and they will schedule a discharge appointment time for you to come in and meet with our discharge technician.
The discharge technician will review the instructions from the doctor about aftercare, go over any medications that have been prescribed, and answer any additional questions you may have.

Are there any post-anesthetic precautions I should take?
After undergoing anesthesia, your pet will probably still be a little tired for the rest of the day. You should keep them quiet and confined, and keep them away from things like pools, decks, and stairs for the remainder of the day. It is important to allow them to rest quietly, away from other pets and small children.
After your pet has settled in at home for about 30 minutes or so, you can offer small amounts of water. If no vomiting occurs for 30 minutes after that, then small amounts of food may be given. If any vomiting occurs, withhold food until the next day, but leave water available. If you are concerned or have any questions, please call us anytime at (925) 866-8387 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (925) 866-8387      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.


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