Posts Tagged ‘anesthesia-free dental cleaning’

A Recap of 2011

January 8, 2012

Photo Credit: Susannah Kay

It’s hard to imagine that five years or so ago, I had no idea what a blog was. In fact, my current spell check doesn’t recognize “blog” as a word.  Does yours? When I first learned about blogging, it took me awhile to buy into the notion that people would actually take the time to read another person’s musings. Well, I’m sure as heck glad and grateful that you are interested in mine! Many thanks for taking the time to post your thoughtful and insightful comments.

Out of the fifty or so blogs I posted last year, I’ve selected the ten best that I thought might be worthy of showcasing, particularly if you did not get a chance to read them the first time around. Now, here’s a look back at 2011!

The Elephant in the Middle of the Exam Room

The so-called “elephant” in the exam room that I discussed was money. I addressed the following questions: Are veterinarians only in it for the bucks? Are clients being charged too much? How are vets to make a living with soaring overhead costs and monumental school loans? Are “fixable” animals being euthanized because the price of making them well is too high?

Dog Auctions

I shared some of the gruesome details about dog auctions, a venue where puppy millers buy and sell their “livestock”. I also told you about a woman named Mary O’Connor-Shaver, a leader of the peaceful protests at Ohio dog auctions. Mary just informed me that she and a crew of other hard-working volunteers are just inches away from having enough signatures to create a 2012 ballot initiative which would ban dog auctions in Ohio. Way to go Mary! I hope the ballot initiative passes and the work she and her volunteers have done will set an example for other states.

The Time of Year to Think About Colorblind Adoptions

As it turns out, dark coated dogs and cats are often the hardest animals to rehome. This blog addressed the reasons why and was timed to coincide with Halloween, a time when many adoption agencies restrict adoption of black-coated animals.

Criticism Welcome Here

This blog was generated from some negative feedback I received from a reader about my support of the American Kennel Club Health Foundation.

A Primer on Leptospirosis

Your comments in response to this blog let me know that the information I provided about Leptospirosis helped you make better-informed choices about whether or not to vaccinate your own dogs against this disease.

Pedicures: Definitely Not for Everyone

Some dogs turn pedicures into wrestling matches! Many trainers provided comments containing excellent advice about how to desensitize dogs to having their feet and nails handled.

Who Was Dr. Leo Bustad?

I was the incredibly fortunate recipient of the 2011 Leo Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award (presented by the American Veterinary Medical Association). I did some research to learn more about the man behind the award and then shared that information with you.

Anesthesia Free Dental Cleaning

Cleaning teeth on awake animals has been steadily becoming more popular. I present the positive and not-so-positive results of doing so.

Can You Take Your Dog By Surprise When It’s Time For a Walk?

This is a blog post about how adept our animals are at reading our minds!

Age is Just a Number

When making medical decisions for their pets, many people factor in the animal’s age. I discuss the importance of considering the animal’s functional age rather than their chronological age.

As I begin a new year of blogging, I invite your ideas. What would you like to read about in 2012?

Best wishes for a happy new year,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at http://www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning

November 27, 2011

It’s natural to have concerns about general anesthesia, whether for ourselves or for our beloved pets. After all, no matter how young and healthy the patient, there is always some associated risk. For this reason, anesthesia-free dental cleaning for pets has become more and more popular. And with no anesthesia, the cost of cleaning Fido’s or Fluffy’s teeth is significantly reduced- clearly another attractive feature. Anesthesia-free dental cleaning for your pet sounds rather tempting, doesn’t it? Before you jump on this bandwagon I encourage you to consider whether or not this option truly serves your dog’s or your cat’s best health interest.

I’m a big believer in regularly brushing your pet’s teeth at home. Thoroughly removing dental tartar on an awake animal, however, is a whole nother ball game! Even with highly skilled hands and a super-cooperative animal, it is impossible to successfully and painlessly remove tartar from underneath the gum lines and along the inner surfaces of the teeth (the surfaces in closest proximity to the tongue). And, if the end result of cleaning is anything other than polished, super smooth, dental surfaces, tartar will quickly reaccumulate. Anesthesia-free dental cleaning definitely gives the outer surfaces of the teeth a cleaner look. While this may be pleasing to your eye, there is no significant benefit to your pet’s health. For all of these reasons, if and when dental cleaning is warranted for your dog or cat, I strongly encourage that it be performed with the aid of general anesthesia.

Now, there are some caveats that accompany my recommendation. For some animals, the risks associated with general anesthesia clearly outweigh the benefits, for example a dog or cat with advanced heart disease or kidney failure. Even for the healthiest animals, general anesthesia should be accompanied by careful monitoring of the patient’s status at all times. A list of important questions to ask your veterinarian about general anesthesia can be found in Speaking for Spot within the chapter called “Important Questions to Ask Your Vet…and How to Ask Them.”

The American Veterinary Dental College also advises against anesthesia-free dental cleaning. Here is an excerpt from their recently drafted position statement:

“Owners of pets naturally are concerned when anesthesia is required for their pet. However, performing nonprofessional dental scaling on an unanesthetized pet is inappropriate for the following reasons:

  1. Dental tartar is firmly adhered to the surface of the teeth. Scaling to remove tartar is accomplished using ultrasonic and sonic power scalers, plus hand instruments that must have a sharp working edge to be used effectively. Even slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient, and the operator may be bitten when the patient reacts.
  2. Professional dental scaling includes scaling the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gingival margin (gum line), followed by dental polishing. The most critical part of a dental scaling procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket (the subgingival space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active. Because the patient cooperates, dental scaling of human teeth performed by a professional trained in the procedures can be completed successfully without anesthesia. However, access to the subgingival area of every tooth is impossible in an unanesthetized canine or feline patient. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little effect on a pet’s health and provides a false sense of accomplishment. The effect is purely cosmetic.
  3. Inhalation anesthesia using a cuffed endotracheal tube provides three important advantages- the cooperation of the patient with a procedure it does not understand, elimination of pain resulting from examination and treatment of affected dental tissues during the procedure, and protection of the airway and lungs from accidental aspiration.
  4. A complete oral examination, which is an important part of a professional dental scaling procedure, is not possible in an unanesthetized patient. The surfaces of the teeth facing the tongue cannot be examined, and areas of disease and discomfort are likely to be missed.”

How do you feel about anesthesia-free versus anesthetized dental cleaning? Keep in mind, for some folks this is a rather heated topic. Let’s keep the conversation civilized!

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.