Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly may not be an activity you love but you must get him used to it from an early age. Statistics show that 1 out of every 5 dogs will develop periodontal disease by the age of 5. Regular brushing can prevent many complications and keep your pet healthy. However, in some cases, tooth decay due to hardened plaque can be very difficult to remove with simple brushing. A professional dental cleaning is essential when the pet has abscess, tartar or foul odor and loose teeth. Let us study a few ways in which you can prepare your dog for teeth cleaning by vet, its risks, and what to expect before, during and after dog teeth cleaning or dental scaling.
When to opt for dog teeth cleaning by vet
Eventually, most vets recommend professional dental scaling or dog teeth cleaning especially for adult dogs. No two dogs are alike-some dogs might need professional teeth cleaning every six months, others may need it just once a year. Dogs that are fed home cooked, soft or moist food are more likely to develop tartar if their teeth are not cleaned regularly. On the other hand, dogs that are fed dry food or kibble, hard dog chews, dental diets, raw hide bones and hard treats etc are less likely to have tartar build up. These foods remove the plaque and prevent it from hardening. Dog owners who are meticulous about brushing their pet’s teeth regularly will easily save professional dog teeth cleaning expenditure. If your dog is showing following signs, then it is likely that she/he needs teeth cleaning with anesthesia:
- Different or more intense breath than normal
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing at the teeth
- Refusal to eat dry food, chew toys, bones and hard treats
- Showing signs of pain when chewing hard food
What does dog teeth cleaning by vet procedure entail?
The procedure is a painful one, so vets administer general anesthesia before dental scaling. Your vet or technician will scale your pet’s teeth to remove hardened plaque. For this purpose, they may use certain sonic, ultrasonic or sharp hand-held tools. Some vets ask for a blood test before the procedure to ensure that the animal is fit for anesthesia. These tests also help detect other health problems, if any.
Approximate dog dental cleaning cost
Depending on the vet, your city and the extent of cleaning your pet requires, dog teeth cleaning by vet can cost anywhere in the range of $300 to $500. This includes cost of anesthesia, antibiotics if needed and other fees. The cost can go up further if your dog needs extraction (by nearly $100 to $400 depending on how many teeth need to be extracted).
Can my dog drink water before teeth cleaning
Anesthesia can lead to nausea and vomiting in some pets. Hence, it is best not to feed your dog any food or water for at least 12-15 hours before the procedure.
Can we have dog teeth cleaning without anesthesia?
Many pet owners wonder if it is possible to perform dog teeth cleaning without anesthesia? After all, dog teeth cleaning can be expensive and anesthesia is known to cause side effects in pets. The answer is that it is not possible to perform the procedure without anesthesia because the technician or vet has to clean both below and under the gingival margin or gum-line followed by dental polishing. This can be very painful and some dogs tend to get aggressive or snap during the procedure.
Canine dental tartar adheres firmly to the gum and teeth. Therefore, vets use powerful ultra sonic and sonic scalers to remove the hardened tartar. Additionally, they may use hand tools which have very sharp edges. Even a slight movement of the patient’s head can cause serious injury to the pet’s oral tissue and the patients can even react and injure the technician. Anesthesia not only gets the patient to cooperate-resulting in a more thorough cleaning- it also prevents pain during exam and treatment and also protects the animal’s airways and lungs from accidental aspiration.
Without anesthesia, the vet or technician will not be able to examine all the surfaces of the teeth and especially the ones facing the tongue. If that happens, dental disease can be missed. Removal of tartar from the visible surfaces provides a false sense of accomplishment and the effect could end up being cosmetic only.
Complications from dog dental cleaning
Dogs with heart, lung, kidney or liver diseases are more likely to experience complications from dog dental cleaning. Possible complications in such pets include trouble breathing, circulatory issues, organ damage, or death. This is the main reason why your vet will thoroughly examine your pet prior to the procedure. Older dogs must undergo blood tests, stool exam and sometimes even a chest X-ray or EKG prior to any procedure that requires anesthesia. Vets can also administer certain medicines to dogs with arrhythmia or kidney insufficiency to make anesthesia safer for them.
What to expect after dog teeth cleaning by vet
Special home care is necessary for dogs that have had dental surgery or dental scaling. Many pets appear groggy, even slightly ‘drunk’ after the procedure. Pet owners may become alarmed to see their pet showing signs of imbalance or unsteadiness. It is important that you assist your pet during climbing in or out of the vehicle or climbing up and down stairs etc. Worry not, the grogginess will get better in a few hours and won’t last for more than a day. Ensure that your pet becomes progressively more alert than depressed during the recovery period.
How to minimize the need for professional dental scaling procedures
To minimize the need for professional dental scaling procedure and to maintain optimal dental health, the American Veterinary Dentistry Center recommends daily cleaning from young age. This includes brushing and use of other effective products to minimize plaque buildup including chew toys, chew sticks, dental diets etc. This, combined with periodic examination of the pet by a veterinary practitioner can help optimize dental health for life.