To prevent painful oral health issues, or to help restore your pup's good oral health, professional dog dental cleaning, and exams are essential. But what exactly happens when you bring your dog to a dental exam? Our Citrus County vets explain.
What To Know Before Your Dog's Dental Exam
There are a few essential steps that should be taken before your dog comes in for their dental healthcare appointment. These pre-appointment steps help to ensure that your dog's appointment and recovery are as safe and painless as possible.
Take Your Dog To The Vet For a Checkup
Your dog will be examined by a veterinarian to ensure that they are healthy enough to safely tolerate the general anesthetic and the cleaning procedure. Your vet will examine your pup's heart for murmurs or other abnormalities. If your dog has any cardiac concerns, your vet may recommend chest radiographs (X-rays) or a cardiology examination. Your vet will also look for signs of anemia on the mucous membranes.
Get Bloodwork Done
Drawing blood from your dog to check liver and kidney functions is the safest way to determine if your pooch is fit enough to be sedated safely. Blood tests are especially important for older dogs since senior dogs are more at risk of serious illnesses like kidney or liver disease. If your dog's bloodwork indicates that your pet could have liver or kidney disease they will not be put under anesthesia.
Dogs with severe dental infections or gingivitis may be prescribed antibiotics a few days before the procedure to prevent complications and to help resolve the infection.
Fast The Night Before
If your dog is having a dental cleaning, it should not be allowed to eat or drink anything for about 12 hours before the procedure. Fasting helps to prevent your dog from vomiting while under sedation, which can lead to serious complications. Fast your dog the night before the dental procedure. Your vet will provide you with detailed instructions before your dog's appointment day.
During a Dog Dental Care Appointment
Taking Care of The Paperwork
When you arrive for your dog's dental cleaning appointment, a staff member will take a few minutes to review the anesthetic consent form.
They will take the time to answer any questions you might have and explain your vet's recommendations for your pup's dental treatments. This will typically take about fifteen minutes. Once you feel comfortable going ahead with the appointment, they will ask you to sign consent forms and provide them with a contact number where we can reach you while your pet is with us.
Although emergencies are rare during veterinary dental care appointments, they do happen, and having a current contact number for you is essential.
They may also want to contact you to keep up-to-date on the progress of your dog's dental appointment and to discuss any additional problems that have arisen during the examination. This may include advising you about additional procedures, such as radiographs and/or extractions that would be recommended.
The Dog Dental Examination Process
After you have checked your dog in, and the paperwork has been completed your dog will be examined by our vet. This examination will include taking your pup's temperature, getting an accurate weight, and checking their heart and lungs. By reviewing the results of your dog's pre-anesthetic testing and the physical exam, your vet will decide on the most appropriate anesthetic protocol for your pet.
Once your pet has been safely and comfortably sedated using a general anesthetic, our vets will perform a full oral examination. Your dog's dental exam will include a full tooth-by-tooth examination complete with charting. This process is much like dental examinations for people - so you can think of your pup's dental appointment as a trip to a dog dentist for your pup.
During your dog's dental examination, our vets will look for signs of dental problems such as:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
Dog Teeth Cleaning
Our team will thoroughly clean and polish your dog's teeth. The plaque will be removed from your dog's teeth both above and below using an ultrasonic scaler. Removing plaque buildup is a key step in preventing ongoing oral health problems. Plaque is mainly composed of bacteria that can put the teeth and gums at serious risk of infection. Left untreated, an oral infection could travel through your dog's bloodstream and spread to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver.
Our vets will also probe and x-ray your dog's teeth, then use a fluoride treatment to help protect against future decay and damage before applying a dental sealant to prevent plaque buildup.
If your dog has advanced periodontal disease, we will collaborate with you to create a treatment plan that will help restore your dog's mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.
After Your Dog's Dental Exam
After your dog's dental examination, cleaning, and treatment are complete, your pup will be closely monitored while they wake up from anesthesia. During this time we will keep your dog warm and comfortable and begin preparing for your pup to head home. The majority of our canine patients go home the same day as their dental appointment.
All dogs are different. Typically, you should expect your pet to begin recovering from the anesthetic within a few hours of heading home. That said, in some cases, it can take 24-48 hours for the lingering effects of the general anesthetic to wear off. During this time, your dog may seem drowsy and have a reduced appetite.
In some cases, dogs may be a little sore from having their teeth cleaned or from having one or more teeth removed. Depending on the condition of your pup's oral health and what dental treatments they had done, antibiotics and/or pain medications may be prescribed by your vet to help make your dog's recovery from treatment as quick and painless as possible. If your dog requires medications, your vet will be sure to provide you with detailed instructions regarding when to give your dog medications, and how often.
If after 24 hours your pet has not returned to its normal self, please call us right away as there may be an unexpected complication interfering with your dog's recovery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.