Monthly Archives

February 2016

Pet Teeth Cleaning Under Anesthesia – Pros and Cons

By Educational, Guides, Health

Pet Teeth Cleaning Under Anesthesia – Pros and Cons

Like most of us, our pets are not exactly thrilled about a dental either. First, it is very uncomfortable and second, they don’t know that it’s for their own good. Without anesthesia, it is thus virtually impossible to clean dogs’ and cats’ teeth.  At least not as thoroughly as necessary.

The Benefits of Anesthesia Outweigh the Risks

Anesthesia always poses some risk of complications and it’s completely normal to be concerned about your pet’s safety. However, the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) and the majority of veterinarians agree that its benefits far outweigh the risks.

Pros of pet teeth cleaning under anesthesia include:

– Thorough removal of dental plaque and tartar. Even though the so-called anesthesia-free dental cleaning claims to be just as effective (but a lot safer and less expensive), it isn’t really an alternative to dental cleaning under anesthesia. What is more, it can cause more harm than good. The thing is that it’s impossible to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar if the animal is not anesthetized. This is especially true for the area below the gum line where plaque is causing the greatest harm. Your pet’s mouth may appear clean but it’s not clean.

– Less stress and discomfort for the animal. No dog or cat will allow teeth cleaning without anesthesia unless being physically restrained. Besides the stress due to prolonged restriction, an animal that is not anesthetized may also experience severe psychological stress because they don’t understand what is going on. The last but not the least important, dental cleaning can be very uncomfortable and even painful. Anesthesia eliminates most of the stress and makes teeth cleaning a completely painless procedure.

– Less expensive in the long term. Although anesthesia-free dental cleaning is supposed to be less expensive, in the long term, it can cost you much more than having your pet anesthetized. This is because in anesthesia-free dental cleaning, the bacteria that cause periodontal disease are not removed from below the gum line. As a result, the disease can quickly spread to the tooth root or in the bone which can be very expensive to treat. Also, without anesthesia, the veterinarian can’t make a thorough exam of the mouth, throat and tongue or perform other dental procedures.

The Cons? The Risk of Complications Albeit Extremely Low

Unfortunately, anesthesia isn’t entirely risk free. The good news is that complications are extremely rare. To reduce the risk of complications to the minimum and ensure that anesthesia doesn’t pose a health threat to the animal, every pet is examined and evaluated for their health status and physical condition before being anesthetized. Also, the progress of veterinary medicine including anesthesia in the recent years further reduced the risk of complications. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance to understand both the benefits and risks of pet teeth cleaning under anesthesia. Here at Rocklin Road Animal Hospital we have a technician who’s only job is to monitor the patient while then are under for the procedure. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian.

Importance of a Dental for Your Pet

By Health, Uncategorized

Cat and toothbrush

Importance of a Dental for Your Pet

Though pets are less likely to develop cavities which are the leading cause of tooth pain and other oral health problems in humans, they can develop serious problems with teeth and gums as well. And besides affecting their dental health, these can also seriously affect your pet’s overall health. To make sure that your pet’s teeth and gums are healthy, you should take your dog or cat to a vet for a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year. Just like in humans, dental problems in pets are a lot easier and less expensive to treat if detected early, not to mention a lot less painful too!

Causes of Dental Problems in Pets

As mentioned earlier, cavities are not as common in pets as in humans. However, both dogs and cats are prone to a host of dental problems which, just like cavities, can cause a lot of pain, tooth loss and even jeopardize their overall health. Periodontal disease is the most common cause of dental problems in pets and besides affecting oral health, it also puts dogs and cats at the increased risk of kidney, liver and heart disease. The good news is that periodontal disease can be both successfully prevented (or at least significantly postponed) and treated with regular dental cleaning and proper oral hygiene. The same goes for other common problems with teeth and gums.

Keeping Your Pet’s Teeth and Gums Healthy

Periodic dental cleaning which involves removal of plaque and tartar combined with regular tooth brushing is the best way to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. Periodontal disease (as well as many other oral health problems) in dogs and cats are caused by plaque and tartar buildup. Unfortunately, the accumulation of plaque and its hardening into tartar can’t be prevented. Therefore it is crucial to have it periodically removed by your vet. In between dental cleanings, you are highly recommended to regularly brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth.

While tooth brushing can’t remove the built-up plaque and tartar, it will dramatically reduce their accumulation. It is recommended to brush your pet’s teeth on a daily basis but even occasional brushing is better than no brushing at all. The majority of dogs eventually allow tooth brushing. Cats, on the other hand, require a lot of patience and persistence.

Dental Cleaning Products not a Replacement for Tooth Brushing

Dental cleaning products including dental toys and treats can help maintain your pet’s dental health, however, they are not a replacement for tooth brushing. Also, not all have the same effect. If you would like to use dental cleaning products, ask your vet for advice.

When to See Your Vet

Even with the best dental care, dogs and cats can develop problems with teeth or gums, or both. If your pet is having any of the symptoms listed below, don’t wait for the annual dental checkup and call your vet right away:

– tooth discoloration
– broken tooth
– bad breath
– loss of appetite
– excessive drooling, difficulty chewing and/or eating
– bleeding from the mouth
– loose teeth
– pain around the mouth
– lumps in the mouth

When you have a question about your pet’s health, what should you expect when you call your veterinarian?

By Uncategorized



During the chaos of our days, many of us find ourselves asking why things can’t just be easier. For example, you come home from work and your dog is acting “funny.” Can’t your veterinarian just help you over the phone? The kids will be home soon, you have to start dinner, and there’s no way you’ll make it up to the clinic before it closes. The truth is, your veterinarian always wants you to call when something is going on with your pet, but legally and ethically there may only be so much he can do without examining the animal. Read this article to better understand what your veterinarian can help you with over the phone and when it’s better just to come on in.

What should I do? Sparky has diarrhea.

Here’s the problem, legally a veterinarian must establish a relationship with you and your pet in order to treat the animal, and that requires a physical exam. New client: So, if your veterinarian has never seen your pet—forget it. There is no prior relationship and therefore “treating” the pet over the phone is against the law. Existing client: Say you and your pet have a relationship with your veterinarian, but there hasn’t been a physical exam in regard to this new condition. It’s often very difficult to describe things over the phone and be confident that you and your veterinarian understand things in the same way. However, Heather Lewellen, DVM, says if she had recently seen the patient for something related, then she might feel more comfortable advising over the phone. “For example, if I started the dog on antibiotics for a skin infection and it develops diarrhea, I might be able to talk them through it over the phone, but I would still rather see it.”

That rash hasn’t gone away.

Calling about an existing condition the pet has recently been seen for by the veterinarian, opens the door a bit. As long as the veterinarian client-patient relationship is well established and the animal has been examined for that problem, it’s up to what the veterinarian is comfortable with. Refilling (or even switching) medication, giving further advice and making recommendations (such as removing a bandage or feeding a bland diet) is fairly common.

Should I take Sparky to the ER?!?

Lewellen says the safe rule is if you think it’s an emergency—it is. Your veterinarian can direct you to the nearest veterinary hospital or will advise you to come into the clinic. However, if you are unsure if your pet’s condition is an emergency, your veterinarian can’t give you advice over the phone. She will recommend you come in and may ask questions regarding gum color, hydration, breathing rates or your pet’s attitude to help confirm if your pet needs immediate medical attention