A Quick Guide to the Use of Anesthesia as it Relates to Your Dog's Professional Dental Cleaning

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If your dog frequently has bad breath or seems to have trouble chewing, it's time to speak with your veterinarian about a dental cleaning. Although it's recommended for many dogs to have their teeth professionally cleaned once a year, 2 out of every 3 dogs don't get the dental work they deserve. Sadly, that leads to many dogs having some degree of gum disease by the age of three. Therefore, it's a good idea for every responsible dog owner to be familiar with the following information about professional dental cleanings for canines.

Understand That Your Dog Will Almost Always Be Anesthetized

Until 2013, it was possible for dogs to not receive anesthesia as part of an in-depth cleaning, but since then that option no longer exists. The only and rare exception to that might be seen when a dog's medical status prohibits the use of that medication, but needs that cleaning and it cannot be safely delayed. If you have seen any references to anesthesia-free dental cleanings, that work typically would be a surface level cleaning that might not address all of the issues. 

It's important to note that there are risks associated with anesthesia. However, those risks can be minimized if you choose an experienced veterinarian. In general, it's safer for a healthy dog to undergo regular, professional dental cleanings now than it is to risk later infection and malnutrition in later years due to untreated oral health problems.

Planning For Your Dog's Recovery

A common mistake that many people make is assuming that their dog's recovery from dental cleanings, extractions, and the related anesthesia will be similar to their own. The truth is that while your pet might have an area of their mouth numbed with a local anesthetic, the primary medication will be general anesthesia that is administered through a tube that goes down the dog's throat. Your dog will probably receive supplemental oxygen and IV fluids throughout their sedation.  

In addition, the actual cleaning is a bit invasive. It includes removing tartar and plaque that is visible to the naked eye and that which is below the gum line. When the teeth are as free of debris and build-up as possible, they will be polished. In some instances where severe decay or infection is observed, the veterinarian might opt to extract one or more teeth.  As a result, you can expect your dog to be groggy for at least 12 hours and up to 2 full days after a cleaning, while 3 to 5 days of recovery after an extraction is quite common. 

In conclusion, untreated dental decay and plaque can lead to the same pain, infection, and tooth loss that it would in humans. In order to help your dog stay healthy, it's essential for him or her to have regular dental cleanings from veterinarians like Brian E Hall.