So we had a nice icy morning today. I got to sleep in until oh 7:30 or so. Then we all bundled up and went outside to slip and slide in the frozen cul-de-sac. Kids were out sliding on whatever they could find. Plywood, plastic sled things, a beach skim board, and little Perry in the family laundry basket. I took a turn on the skim board down the neighbors driveway, across the cul-de-sac and into the street, it was much fun. We had yummy pancakes and bacon for breakfast, then the ice started to melt, so it was time for me to go off to work.
So we’re talking about dentistry. Specifically about my dogs and their “routine” if you will. We talked about brushing, diet, the Dental Vaccine, hmmm… OK, well aside from rawhide chews (which I buy at Costco, the big knotted ones made out of pork hide and made in the USA, they’re a great price. )
Regarding rawhides, I think they’re great, my dogs spend quite a bit of time chewing them. It keeps them busy, and helps clean their teeth. Avoid any that aren’t made in the USA, and you want the non-compressed ones. A good rule of thumb is you should be able to indent them with your fingernail. SOME dogs can’t handle rawhide, they have sensitive stomachs, you will probably learn this the hard way when they puke, so avoid rawhides in these dogs…common sense. If you’re worried about the dogs choking on them, watch them and take it away when the piece gets too small. I like to give my dogs really big ones compared to their size so they have to chew it up over several days, that way they don’t eat too much. For further rawhide info, ask your vet.
Anyhow, the other thing I do for my dogs is get their teeth thoroughly cleaned under anesthesia at least once a year. I’ve been doing this since they were a couple of years old.
#1 fear of clients about “dentals”: The Anesthesia
MY #1 fear about “dentals”: NOT doing them because (and maybe this is just me) I hate, hate, hate when my dogs have bad breath. It’s super gross. I can smell when I’m late with their brushing and they get a little plaque on their teeth…totally disgusting. It’s one of the many things in life that annoy me. After 11 years as a vet and another 7 years in the “biz”, anesthetizing my own pets doesn’t scare me a bit. The chances of anything bad happening at this point in their life is less than 1% . The chance of them developing toilet breath if I don’t clean their teeth 99%. I”ll gladly err on the side of clean teeth.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for us to thoroughly clean, polish, and asses an animals teeth while awake. My human dentist can barely do it to my 6 year old. Even the best behaved dogs can’t sit still for 30 minutes and keep their tongues still while we scale, chart, and polish every tooth.
OH and when you pay $5 for the people at the local giant pet store chain to “clean the teeth” , that is SO not the same thing! It’s pretty much the equivalent of you having your hair dresser brush your teeth every 6 weeks. Note: they are only brushing the pets teeth (I’ll get into what goes on during a “dental” procedure soon), and brushing once every 6-8 weeks, and PAYING for it, is a total waste of money…
Obviously, any anesthetic procedure comes with inherent risk. We totally appreciate, and understand your concern.
We take every precaution to prevent complications, we recommend pre surgical bloodwork, do complete exams prior to the procedure, run fluids when necessary. We want to ensure that the patients to be as healthy as possible for this, an elective procedure. We custom tailor the anesthetic drugs to each individual pet based on weight, age, and general health status. We use the minimal amount of drugs necessary to get them asleep and maintain the anesthetic with gas (this allows us to closely monitor the depth of their anesthesia). We have monitors and technicians who’s sole job is to watch your pets and keep them safe.
Yes, there are risks involved with anesthesia. However, every day, we take a step back. We look at the bigger picture, which is this: we firmly believe, in our hearts, that we are improving the overall length and quality of life of our patients by working to keep their teeth clean. (Yes, and all the other stuff too like exams, routine bloodwork, vaccines, etc.) Said another way: we all feel that the benefits of dentistry outweigh the risks of anesthesia.
So I think that’s enough for today. Tomorrow (If I get time) I’ll cover what actually happens during the “dental”.
Hope I don’t scare you with the anesthesia stuff, that’s not the goal. The goal is to tell you that we will do everything in our power to keep your pet safe, and that yes, we do think that dentistry is necessary.
Anesthesia and all.
PS: Sorry also, that this isn’t my funniest post, but I take anesthesia seriously. So, tomorrow, I’ll try to be funnier…