Who likes the dentist? Anyone?
Doggie dental exams can be stressful for new owners, partly because they don't know what to expect, and partly because most humans have... less than fond memories of their own dental experiences.
Like anything new/scary, it helps to know what you’re walking into ahead of time.
Exams include two main components — examinations and cleanings.
It's widely recommended to visit the veterinarian several times a year during the puppy stage, in order to acclimate and desensitize your pet to the whole experience.
Bring pet toys along during visits, so your dog will associate positive feelings with the vet's office (and the vet herself).
Once your dog reaches adulthood, it’s okay to scale back depending upon his needs.
The real key to maintaining excellent dental hygiene is through preventative care — daily brushings and healthy dog food and snacks are the way to go.
When you do have to see a professional, here's what you can expect.
Oral exams can be done visually by a licensed veterinarian without the use of sedatives, except in special cases such as teeth cleanings.
The American Animal Hospital Association has created a list of requirements and guidelines for all dental practices, which ensure your dog's safety and wellbeing.
- Pre-anesthetic Exams: Before any such medicines are given, your dog will be assessed to make sure that she is fit enough to undergo the procedure. This is a general safety provision — contemporary sedatives are typically safe, even for older hounds. It is wise to perform blood work on more mature dogs prior to any anesthesia.
- Anesthesia Monitoring: While under anesthesia, your pet’s heart rate, respiration and body temperature are continually checked for safety purposes.
- Dental Radiographs: Known as X-rays, dental radiographs are taken intermittently for evaluation of your dog’s oral health. These are commonly taken in puppy stages to ascertain whether adult teeth will come in correctly. X-rays will usually spot loose or infected teeth needing to be removed.
- Scaling & Polishing: Tools used by veterinarians closely resemble one’s used on humans. Plaque is removed, defects in enamel are smoothed, and teeth are cleaned and polished.
- Fluoride: It is recommended that fluoride and other anti-plaque substances are used to fortify and desensitize teeth; this will also cut down on future buildups.
What types of procedures happen at the doggie dentist?
Oral surgery for dogs includes: jaw repair, tooth extractions and oral tumor removals.
Modern laws mandate that all procedures that alter the shape, structure or position of a tooth must be done by a licensed veterinarian, vet technician, vet assistant or dental hygienist.
After any surgery, proper rest is essential. A large, comfortable dog bed placed in a quiet undisturbed location is necessary for a quick recovery.
What's the difference between a veterinarian and a vet tech?
Licensed vetrenarians have a wide range of duties when it comes to the health of your dog, and there are a few procedures that can be handled by certified assistants or technicians.
Technicians are permitted to perform many of the same tasks as fully licensed vets except in the areas of diagnosis, prognosis (the assigning of medication) and surgery.
Vet techs are permitted to assist in many procedures but not without the supervision of a licensed vet. At a minimum, they should have a certification from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America to perform cleanings and sometimes tooth extractions.
See? No sweat.
Just like any other health issue, prevention and maintenace are so much easier and less expensive than the alternative.
Speaking of which, maybe it's time for a visit to the people dentist? Just saying.
For more information and pet care products, please click here.