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Wednesday, June 9, 2010


One of my least favorite topics to discuss with pet owners is their pets' teeth. When the teeth need to be cleaned (actually to call it "cleaning" is an oversimplification of a very comprehensive and complicated procedure), there is often resistance on the part of the pet owner. The two most common reasons for resistance are, understandably, cost and anesthetic risks. Anesthetic risks can be mitigated with preanesthetic blood tests and ECG, anesthetic protocols tailored to the specific patient, IV fluids given during the procedure, comprehensive and dedicated patient monitoring (a dedicated anesthetist, ECG, blood pressure, oxygen levels, CO2 output, temperature, etc...), and careful post-anesthetic monitoring.

Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? It is a lot, which is why pet dentistry can be pretty expensive. I've talked to a number of my colleagues, and my informal survey reveals pet dental procedures to run between $200 and $1000, depending on X-rays, extractions, etc... The good news is that those who get their pets' teeth cleaned before things get too far along, usually see dental charges on the low end of the scale!

The other source of resistance is that pet owners sometimes don't percieve the necessity of dental health. It is the veterinarian's job to educate these folks. The truth is, we believe that chronic dental infections lead to deterioration and damage to numerous vital organs such as the kidneys, lungs, and heart. A recent study published in the AVMA Journal showed a six-fold increased risk of heart valve disease in dogs with periodontal disease. Chronic kidney failure and pulmonary disease have also been linked to bad teeth.

So...my best advice is that when your vet first tells you it's time to clean your pet's teeth, don't wait a few years to do it. You will pay for the delay from your wallet, and your pet may pay with a few years of his life.

1 comment:

  1. What do you recommend in the way of home dental care for pets? Brushing? If so, how often? What about dental pet treats that claim to clean teeth? There are so many dental treats on the market making so many claims, I'm not sure what to believe.