February 9, 2018
The short answer is yes—and here’s why.
While there’s always some risk to putting any animal under anesthesia, the fact is that the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) considers cleaning a companion animal’s teeth without general anesthesia unacceptable. In addition to the pain and stress it causes the pet, there are the very dangerous risks of accidental damage if patients move even slightly, as well as the possibility of accidental aspiration during the procedure.
By comparison, the risks of anesthesia are much more manageable, and just like human doctors, we take every precaution necessary to minimize those dangers. Age, overall health, and size are all factors, but most of the time pose no risk to successful anesthesia if performed with highly trained staff using a specially designed treatment plan.
Any responsible veterinarian will perform a pre-anesthetic exam to ensure the pet is healthy enough for anesthesia. The vet may also require the second step of pre-anesthetic blood work because that will show if there are any systemic infections or problems with major organs before going into the procedure. This testing also helps us tailor medications to your pet’s specific needs based on the results.
Every patient undergoing anesthesia will receive an IV catheter placed in their leg that allows us quick access to administer any needed medications. From the moment your pet is put under anesthesia to even after they’re awake, a dedicated assistant will monitor every vital sign and alert the doctor to any changes.
The fact is that while regular brushing and oral hygiene at home are encouraged, there is nothing that can replace a true dental cleaning. Dental disease is more than bad breath; if there’s an infection, bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, causing systemic, life-threatening damage. Unfortunately, only a professional dental procedure, including dental x-rays, can treat and prevent severe periodontal disease because it allows us to see below the gums and assess any damaged or fractured teeth that might need to be removed.
As an AAHA-accredited facility, we adhere to these guidelines and only perform dental cleanings on anesthetized pets. For more information about your pet’s dental health, or to schedule your pet for an exam or cleaning, please call us at 713.659.0650.