As a pet owner, it seems that we will do just about anything to help keep our pets healthy and happy for as long as possible. While we certainly will take our pet for routine wellness exams and to receive routine vaccines, dental examinations and cleanings often go by the wayside. To ensure your pet stays happy and healthy, dental cleanings are an important part of overall care to make sure your pet’s teeth and gums stay healthy for the life of your pet.
Why Is a Dental Cleaning Necessary?
Cats and dogs rely on their teeth and mouth for more than just eating food and vocalizing. Unlike humans, cats and dogs need their mouth to act as a set of hands, helping them pick up, hold, and move objects. Dental cleaning is vital for the overall health of your cat or dog and is one of the best ways to keep your pet healthy and happy. Dental cleaning not only helps to treat and prevent possible gum disease and injury, but it can help identify and diagnose larger systemic conditions and diseases too. Very serious conditions, such as heart or kidney disease, can first show signs of the disease as poor dental health. Identifying these symptoms early can help lead veterinarians to a quick diagnosis, preventing a more serious disease from taking hold of your pet.
How Can a Veterinarian Help?
A veterinarian is able to work as a dentist for your cat or dog. With regular dental exams and cleanings it is possible to monitor and take care of both the teeth and the gums. A veterinarian can help remove any tarter or plaque built up around the teeth and along the gum line. This is a great way to not only keep teeth clean, but to help prevent the spread of gingivitis, a common dental disease in pets.
Further, a veterinarian will be able to examine and address any injured or diseased teeth. Often, a diseased or infected tooth can quickly spread to otherwise healthy teeth in the mouth, creating a potentially dangerous situation. By allowing a veterinarian to examine your pet’s teeth to get a closer look, damaged and diseased teeth can be removed before compromising otherwise healthy teeth nearby.
What Should I Expect With a Cleaning?
To many pet owners it comes as a shock to find out that your pet must be put under light anesthesia to perform a dental exam and cleaning. This is done to protect both the health of your pet, as well as the health of the veterinarian. With your pet soundly asleep, a veterinarian is able to work inside your pet’s mouth, maneuvering appropriately to be able to see all the teeth and gums.
When it comes to setting up a dental cleaning, we want you to be prepared with what to expect. The following sequence of events is common for a routine dental cleaning:
- Check Vitals – Prior to your dental appointment expect your veterinarian to check your pet’s vital health markers. Your veterinarian may want to draw and examine blood to make sure your pet’s organ health is good enough to successfully undergo a dental cleaning. Your veterinarian may also listen to your pet’s heartbeat and check your pet’s temperature prior to administering anesthesia.
- Procedure – The actual procedure to clean and extract any problem teeth really only takes a matter of minutes. During the procedure your pet is safely asleep. Following the procedure, your pet will be moved to a safe area where he or she can wake up from anesthesia under a watchful eye. This process usually takes a few hours to make sure your pet is safely recovering from surgery.
- Post Dental Cleaning – Following your pet’s appointment, expect your veterinarian to prescribe some precautionary antibiotics. These will stave off an infection should any bacteria enter your pet’s blood stream. Further, your veterinarian may suggest a modified diet for the coming days, opting for soft food to contend with any pulled teeth or sore gums.
Knowing what to expect with a dental cleaning for your pet can help ease anxiety for both your pet, and you as the owner. When you are knowledgeable about how the procedure can help, and what is being done, you will have the peace of mind knowing you are giving the best possible care to your cat or dog, ensuring a healthy and happy life.