A happy dog in an exam room.

Pet owners are more savvy than ever, and they are more and more proactive about seeking out the best for their beloved four-legged family members. Knowing the importance of good dental health care, they are seeking out different options for routine teeth cleaning for their pets.

More and more in New Jersey you will find practitioners that are willing to clean your pet’s teeth without anesthesia. When you take into account the risk of anesthesia for pets and its associated costs, this may seem like an obvious choice to make. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital wants our educated pet owners to understand, though, why anesthesia free dental cleanings for pets are not all they’re cracked up to be.

An Inconvenient Truth

When you start to understand what goes into a proper pet dental examination and cleaning, it becomes quickly apparent why anesthesia is necessary.

Even the most docile and cooperative pet doesn’t just open wide and let us take a peek. In order to examine the entire oral cavity, every surface of every tooth, and probe under the gumline, we need full access and some time. Anesthesia allows us to accomplish this safely and with minimal stress and discomfort for our pet patients.

Dental radiographs (X-rays) are an essential part of a thorough dental examination and pet health. After all, most of the tooth lies under the gum line. We cannot fully assess the situation without this information. Anesthesia allows us to position our plates effectively, minimizing radiation exposure to your pet.

Thorough cleanings also require a lot of water! While your dentist may just ask you to suck on that hard straw, your dog is probably not going to cooperate. Having your pet intubated under anesthesia prevents water and other debris from being aspirated into the airways.

Finally, the degree of dental disease that most pets have by the time they receive care is typically advanced. In order to perform treatments such as subgingival tooth scaling, tooth extraction, and periodontal therapies, anesthesia is required as a matter for comfort.

While anesthesia can be a little intimidating, we can assure you that we take every precaution in administering and monitoring them while they are anesthetized and through their entire pet dental health visit.

The Downside of Anesthesia Free Dental Cleanings for Pets

Besides anesthesia being necessary for a proper dental exam and cleaning, anesthesia free dental cleanings for pets can also be dangerous. Take into consideration:

  • Dental cleanings may be uncomfortable or scary for an animal, resulting in injury to the person working in your pet’s mouth
  • Sharp instrumentation can become quite dangerous if your pet isn’t perfectly still, resulting in serious lacerations
  • Because the pet needs to be very still, heavy restraint may be used resulting in undue stress, fear, and even injury
  • Aspiration of water, bacteria, and other debris can result in aspiration pneumonia
  • Organizations like the American Veterinary Dental College and the American Animal Hospital Association are strongly against anesthesia free dental cleanings for pets
  • Improper cleanings can result in a false sense of security about your pet’s oral health, allowing painful and damaging problems to fester and worsen
  • Check out this video to learn more

Our staff at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital wants the very best for your pet. That is why we insist on anesthesia every time. Call us today for more information about a dental evaluation for your pet.