We are all aware by now of the importance of good dental care for our pets.

We buy the chews, we make the appointments, but are we getting the whole story?

The dangers of having your pooches’ pearly whites cleaned without anaesthetic are well documented and varied, yet we still see and hear of so many patients who have suffered through unnecessarily painful and not-so-helpful procedures.

While you may think you are doing the right thing by having your dogs’ teeth ‘scaled and cleaned’ without the additional trauma of ‘going under’, the truth is that what you are achieving is nothing more than a cosmetic quick fix.

I liken the process to a Titanic analogy. Anaesthetic free dentals clean the crown of the tooth only and this is rarely where dental disease lies in our pets. Most of it is under the gums. Much like the crew of the Titanic who took notice of the portion of iceberg above the water, a clean like this will only pay attention to what we first see. And how did that work out for the Titanic and its passengers? It was the portion of the iceberg they couldn’t see that caused the damage, and unfortunately, the same can usually be said for dogs enduring topical dental care.

We have had several animals now that have had this very stressful procedure done, with one memorable example a lovely Labrador that saw us 2 weeks after his ‘clean’ and then had to have 27 teeth removed.

The AVA (Australian Veterinary Association) has policies in place to protect your pet from the unnecessary stress and sometimes harm caused from anaesthetic free dental work. They state that ~

“Comprehensive examination, diagnosis and treatment cannot properly proceed whilst an animal is conscious.”

Anaesthetic free dental procedures can:

  • Place your pet at risk of stress from invasive mouth-work and have a negative effect on their psychology
  • Place your pet in danger of exhibiting unwanted behaviour, such as biting, as a consequence of the stress they are under.
  • Allow discomfort in the animal and sometimes painful activity to take place, such as the treatment of the common periodontal disease
  • Place your pet at risk of a procedure being carried out by often underqualified or untrained staff
  • Place the person carrying out the treatment at risk of harm by a stressed animal

In order to correctly diagnose and treat your dog or cat’s dental concerns, we must anaesthetise them. It is in the best interest of your pets’ welfare that we make them feel as calm as possible during our examination, so we can carry out a thorough examination and come to an accurate diagnosis. To do this, we need to look beyond the tooth we can immediately see, closely examining the entire mouth, including the gums. We also need your pet to be very still for parts of this examination, especially when radiographs are involved, and we cannot expect a dog or cat to comply with our requests (no matter how nicely we ask it of them!). Then there’s the poking and prodding, the noisy machines and the anxiety that comes with having lots of hands being stuck in your mouth.

Any human can attest to the struggle we sometimes have with persevering with lengthy dental check-ups and work, and we understand what is happening and can respond to our dentists’ requests. Your pooch cannot. Without the anaesthetic, we cannot perform a complete examination, nor would we want to place your pet in a compromising situation like that.

At Direct Vet Services, we happily offer free initial dental health checks for your pet, taking a quick look at your pets’ oral health and offering a tailored treatment plan, including x-rays and anaesthetic administration.

Dental care is one of the most important factors that affect your pets’ health, with many diseases arising from poor dental hygiene. You should be having your pets’ teeth checked every twelve months to ensure that there isn’t a build-up of plaque and tartar. Book in your appointment here or give us a call on 03 9369 1822 to talk about your pets’ treatment plan.