What to Ask Your Vet Before a Dental Cleaning
Dental care is as important for pets as it is for people. Having clean teeth offers your furry friend more than just better breath — it can also help prevent painful periodontal disease and systemic problems like heart, liver and kidney problems.
Your vet can tell you when it's time for a cleaning, but you probably have some questions about the procedure. Here, Michel Selmer, DVM, owner of the Advanced Animal Care Center in Huntington, New York, tells us what important questions to ask your vet before a dental cleaning so you know your dog will be well-cared for during the procedure.
Q: My vet says that anesthesia is needed during the dental cleaning. What questions should I ask him about it?
Dr. Selmer: Anesthesia is necessary during a dental cleaning, and it's very important that you ask questions about how this is administered. Pet parents should ask about what the anesthetic protocol is and what drugs are being used.
Check to see if supportive care is being given to the pet, including intravenous fluid therapy and warmers. Ask about what kind of monitoring will be done before, during and after the procedure. For example, is monitoring only done with machines or double-checked by a trained veterinary technician manually?
Q: What about blood work prior to the procedure?
Dr. Selmer: I think it is very important to make sure the patient is cleared for anesthesia prior to this procedure. A minimum database of information for the patient should be completed, including blood chemistry, complete blood count and a urinalysis in all patients. Chest X-rays should also be considered as part of the due diligence to clear pets for anesthesia. Any medical problem discovered may increase the anesthetic risk. Any and all abnormalities should be described to the owner with recommendations for follow up care.
Q: Are dental cleanings safe for all pets?
Dr. Selmer: Dental cleanings and anesthesia are relatively safe. The healthier the pet, the safer it is to do a dental cleaning. If the pet suffers from any ailment, precautions should be taken to lessen the risks. Remember, this is an elective procedure after all, so your veterinarian can tell you whether or not your pet is a candidate for it.
Q: What kinds of questions should I ask my vet about how she deals with issues that could arise during the procedure?
Dr. Selmer: It's a great idea to ask your vet what will happen in the event of an unforeseen situation or if additional treatments, diagnostics or procedures need to be completed during the dental cleaning. Owners should be contacted in the event of any problem, concern or change of plans and should be given the opportunity to consent or decline before anything is done.
Q: What should I expect my vet's policy to be regarding tooth extractions?
Dr. Selmer: If the veterinarian thinks an extraction needs to be done, he should contact the owner prior to performing the extraction. Consent and authorization needs to be given. Some evidence should be presented to the owner to support the veterinarian's claim, such as X-rays.
Q: Should I ask my vet about who is performing the cleaning and their certifications?
Dr. Selmer: Yes, definitely. This is a very important question.
Q: What else should I ask my vet about dental procedures?
Dr. Selmer: I think all owners should be able to tour the facilities where the procedure will be taking place.
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