Dental Care for Pets Kennett Square
You’ve committed to the dental cleaning and evaluation under anesthesia, and your pet’s blood work and physical examination are normal. What happens next? When it comes to in-office dental care for pets, all anesthetic procedures are done in the mornings and early afternoon hours in order to allow patients ample time to recover under the careful eye of our nursing staff prior to discharge.
Your pet must fast prior to the dental procedure and should not eat after 10 pm the evening prior, a small amount of water the morning of is allowed. In certain situations, your veterinarian may prescribe gabapentin and trazodone to relax your pet before coming to the hospital. If these medications are prescribed, you may give them 1-2 hours before leaving for the hospital in a small meatball (large teaspoon) or a piece of cheese (½ ounce). As many pets feel some level of stress when away from their regular environment, these medications are an invaluable means to help keep your pet calmer and more comfortable.
Preparing for the Procedure
In general, we ask you to drop your pet off between 7:30 and 8:30 am, but alternate arrangements may be accommodated in some situations. Procedures requiring general anesthesia are only performed Monday through Friday at Longwood. Your pet will be admitted to the hospital, in most circumstances, by one of the nurses providing anesthesia or assisting the doctor in the dental procedure. These nurses have a wealth of information, and will do their best to help answer questions you may have related to the procedure. Questions outside their professional scope will be passed on to the doctor. The admission period is an excellent time to confirm any medications your pet usually receives or any medications given prior to the procedure such as gabapentin and trazodone for sedation.
If you have any special requests or questions for the doctor overseeing your pet’s care, please write these down on the admission consent form. At this time you will also be asked to sign an estimate. Every attempt will be made to provide you this estimate via email within the week prior to the procedure. Please read the estimate form closely. Prior to the procedure is the time to voice any concerns about potential cost and have a frank discussion about finances, not while your pet is under general anesthesia. We will discuss the process of estimating costs for dental procedures in our third and final Dental blog next month.
After admission, your pet will receive another physical examination and a review of bloodwork and all pertinent historical information in the medical record. The severity of your pet’s dental disease will be assessed. Anything of concern to the doctor will be brought to your attention. Unexplained recent weight loss, a new heart murmur, or other indication of a potential medical issue will be reviewed with you immediately. The great majority of the time, however, no surprise findings are found and your pet is prepared for general anesthesia.
Administering Sedatives When Necessary
As discussed earlier, some pets receive a mild oral sedative prior to their procedure. Even pets that usually enjoy visiting our hospital with a family member can become nervous when dropped off without their owners. Medications to reduce anxiety will improve your pet’s overall experience. The order in which your pet is anesthetized depends upon a variety of factors including your pet’s level of dental disease, level of anxiety, and pre-existing medical conditions. Although we try our best to be accommodating, sometimes it is not possible to guarantee any given pet will be first in the order of scheduled procedures.
In order to safely undergo anesthesia your pet will receive a “pre-op” injection of medications designed to provide mild sedation and pain relief. This is given as an injection in the muscle. After the mild sedative, the nurses place a catheter into one of your pet’s leg veins. Through this catheter, induction drugs (intravenous anesthetics) are administered. The induction drugs take effect rapidly and your pet soon falls into a deep, calm sleep. Your pet will be intubated by placing anesthetic tubing into the trachea through which anesthetic gases (to maintain anesthesia) and oxygen will be administered throughout the duration of your pet’s dental procedure. The use of an intravenous catheter and tracheal intubation dramatically improves the safety of the anesthetic event allowing the nurse and doctor direct access to your pet’s airway and circulatory system. The average dental procedure is between one and three hours in length, and this duration of anesthesia can only be safely maintained in the manner described. Your pet’s vital parameters including temperature, heart rate, EKG and respiratory information are all closely and constantly monitored by a dedicated anesthetic nurse.
Longwood Cares About Your Pet
As you can see, we take the safety of your pet very seriously at Longwood Veterinary Center. In this month’s blog we have hopefully given you a more complete look at the behind the scenes preparation that your pet experiences to ensure a safe and successful anesthetic event. We hope we have impressed upon you the fact that the level of care your pet receives at Longwood Veterinary Center is top tier and a source of pride. Next month please tune in for our third installment that takes you through the process of charting, dental radiographs, cleaning and the decision making process surrounding when and why we suggest extraction of a tooth.