From humans to dogs to cats, health of the mouth plays a large role in the overall health of patients. At Prairie Side Vet of Racine, we have several veterinarians that specialize in pet dental care. Statistics show that most dogs and cats over 3 years of age have periodontal disease, and there is an enormous amount of disease present that can affect the long-term health in our pets. When left untreated, periodontal disease will lead to pain in the mouth and loss of teeth. Furthermore, that disease (aka mouth infection) has been shown to cause problems in the heart, the liver, and the kidneys. The only solution is a combination of home and professional pet dental care.
When it comes to periodontal disease, most of the disease is below the gum line, so it is difficult to see problems in cats and dogs. However, there are good indicators that your pet may be suffering from periodontal disease.
The “dog breath” or “cat breath” is not normal and indicates a bacterial problem. If you notice your pet has bad breath, it could be a sign of disease and warrants further examination.
Any brown “chunks” on the teeth are called tartar and is simply calcified bacteria adhering to the teeth. This can be a sign of significant disease and a cleaning and examination is necessary.
At Prairie Side Veterinary Hospital, we believe that our total pet dental teeth cleaning package is a big part of the solution! A teeth cleaning in pets is equivalent to a human going to the dentist and having their teeth cleaned. Dogs and cats are very unwilling to allow proper cleaning while they are awake, so anesthesia is necessary to insure your pet’s safety AND to insure that the cleaning is properly done. Once the teeth are cleaned, at home care and future cleanings become part of the on-going care for your pet’s health. For more information, see our FAQs below.
The process starts the day before the procedure. We ask that you pick up their food at 8PM the night before their procedure. It is OK to leave water available to your pet throughout the evening.
At the appointed time, usually 8am, you will arrive with your pet. We will review the procedure that is being performed and discuss the most common and serious complications. These complications include:
It usually takes 10-15 minutes to review complications and sign paperwork associated with the procedure.
Your pet is admitted to the hospital for the day. If blood-work has not been performed, we will perform that immediately. If there are no concerns with the blood-work, we will start IV fluids, sedate your pet and place them under anesthesia. Anesthesia includes placing a breathing tube (endotracheal tube) in the trachea and maintaining your pet on oxygen and gas anesthesia, exactly like human surgery.
Once your patient is under anesthesia, our staff takes x-rays and starts cleaning the mouth. The cleaning procedure includes scraping the tartar and plaque off of the teeth. It then progresses to using an ultrasonic machine to remove all of the tartar and plaque from the crown (the portion of the tooth you see) and subgingival area (the portion of the tooth you can not see).
Finally, a polish is used to smooth the microscopic surface of the tooth. This process is done to minimize development of tartar in the future and help maintain a healthy mouth.
Once the staff has finished cleaning the teeth, the doctor reviews the x-rays. Next, the doctor evaluates the mouth, including probing each tooth and examining the mouth for any tumors. The doctor then records their findings on x-ray and probing to form a complete record of problems in the mouth.
If the doctor finds any teeth that need additional treatment, they call you while your pet is under anesthesia. The doctor discusses the problems and what treatments are recommended. The doctor is able to discuss how much the additional treatment will cost if you authorize that treatment.
If you authorize additional treatment, it may be possible to have that performed the same day as your pets dental cleaning. We will help you determine what is best (and safest) for your pet and together we will develop a plan to care for your pets mouth.
Finally, your pet is allowed to recover and awaken in a warmed cage. Once they are able to function normally, they are allowed to go home. Most of our patients are ready to go home around 4pm, but we will discuss an actual discharge time with you that day.
At discharge, we will review what happened to your pet and any special instructions. If a diet change is necessary, we will discuss the appropriate changes and how to institute those following the procedure.
Yes. There are companies that provide “non-anesthetic dentals”. The procedure they perform is a gross disservice to your pet. There is no ability to take x-rays, nor is there any attempted to clean the area under the gum line. If they attempt to clean under the gum line, there is a high risk of actually cutting the gums and causing further injury. It is considered malpractice by most veterinarians to perform this procedure because the disease is still present and the risk of harming your pet is high.
Although anesthesia is very safe, no anesthesia is 100% safe. This question is probably our client’s #1 concern about performing a dental cleaning on a pet. We completely understand your fear!
Anesthesia has come a long way over the past 30 years. The basic components of anesthesia are the exact same components used in human anesthesia.
There are three basic factors that increase the risk of complications:
Blood pressure- When we place a patient under anesthesia, their blood pressure will lower. Depending on how far the pressure lowers, the heart and kidneys have a difficult time functioning properly. To combat this, we do two things. First, we maintain all patients on IV fluids to help increase their blood pressure throughout the procedure. Second, we monitor their blood pressure during the procedure and administer medications or alter the anesthesia based on their blood pressure.
Temperature- The body processes anesthesia differently based on the core body temperature. Patients that get cold will have a more difficult time with anesthesia. Body temperature is especially critical in our small patients such as cats, Chihuahuas, Maltese, etc. To combat this problem, all patients are monitored throughout the procedure. Additionally, a warm air blanket wraps each patient to help keep their body temperature in the optimal range.
Pre-existing conditions- Pre-existing conditions can also affect a patient during anesthesia. After a review of their medical records, our doctors perform a physical exam the day of the procedure, paying special attention to their heart, lungs, and hydration status. The doctors also perform blood-work to determine if the organ function appears to be normal.
When we take these basic steps, anesthesia is much less scary. We take anesthesia and our responsibility to your pet very seriously. We hope that if you have additional questions, you will feel comfortable to just ask our doctors.
We have heard, “I’ve been told my pet is too old for anesthesia” many times. There is very little truth in that statement. We consistently put patients under anesthesia that are 12, 15, 18, even 20 years old! However, our more senior patients do have health concerns that we need to address before placing them under anesthesia.
A better question is, “Is my pet healthy enough for anesthesia?”
I have certainly met patients that I consider a poor candidate for anesthesia due to their overall health. Let us be clear, anesthesia is not for every patient.
To help us determine who is, and is not, a good candidate for anesthesia, we need to take some careful steps. First, a physical exam will go a long way to identifying problems. Second, blood work will help us evaluate internal problems that our eyes, ears, and hands cannot identify.
If the doctor feels that your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia, we will proceed with the dental cleaning.
Our feeling is that the risk of dental disease is MUCH higher than the risk of complications from anesthesia. Although we don’t want to take putting a patient under anesthesia lightly, we know that the benefit of cleaning their teeth improves their overall health and extends their life.
The investment in your pet’s mouth can be difficult to understand. When we compare a pet’s dental cleaning to a human dental cleaning, there are substantial differences. Veterinarians have to place your pet under anesthesia. All of the cost differences between human and animal dental procedures are related to anesthesia.
To safely administer anesthesia, your pet will have the following:
If you were to price all of these procedures in a human hospital, it would cost thousands of dollars. In fact, someone in Dr. Susmilch’s family had a procedure and the IV catheter / IV fluids were over $300. The actual procedure was less than 15 minutes (much shorter than a veterinary dental cleaning) and cost over $8,000!
Veterinary medicine does not charge anywhere near that much, but you can understand why the procedures can appear to be very costly. Given everything that is done with your pet, the procedure is actually a very good value.
Common problems that we find in the mouth that require additional treatment are:
We are equipped to handle all of these problems and more. Please feel free to discuss these with our staff and veterinarians.
We are equipped to perform the following and much more:
The prices on these repairs and treatments vary greatly. Each treatment is customized to your pet. It is nearly impossible to estimate the cost of these treatments until we are able to determine the amount of damage done. Unfortunately, the process of determining damage includes examination under anesthesia and x-rays. As you can see, we often find these problems during the dental and then update our treatment recommendations. Again, we will call you before any treatments are done and inform you of your options and the costs associated with each option.
Included with the 1-price package is the following:
The following are NOT included and will incur additional costs:
As you can see, the items that are included will provide EVERYTHING that you pet will need to have their teeth cleaned and polished. It also includes a complete evaluation of your pet’s mouth and a plan to repair / remove any damage.
The packages are priced based on age. Our older patients take some additional care and have special needs. Because of those special needs, additional blood-work is necessary to help insure their safety. Because of that additional blood-work, there is a higher cost associated with the procedure. Otherwise, the care is exactly the same.
If you have performed the correct blood-work within 30 days of your pet’s procedure AND your pet’s medical needs are such that additional blood-work is not warranted, you will not need to have blood-work performed again. We will credit the cost of the recommended blood-work towards your dental package price so that your total out-of-pocket cost reflects the package price.