A special two-part Q&A with Dr. Streiber by Kennel Club LAX in honor of the upcoming Dental Health Month

by ANDREW M. STREIBERKENNEL CLUB:  How often does my pet need its teeth cleaned?

DR. STREIBER:  Generally speaking, a dog or cat should have a dental prophylaxis (routine scaling & polishing) performed on an annual basis. In some cases, however, some animals may require them more frequently, while the opposite (required less frequently) may also be true.

KC:  Does my pet really need anesthesia when getting a cleaning? I have heard of Non-Anesthetic dental cleaning, are those just as good?

DS:  To state that your pet “needs” anesthesia for its dental prophylaxis is certainly debatable. However, and with that said, I always recommend to all of my clients that a dental prophylaxis for their pet is best performed under general anesthesia for the following reasons: An animal does not become stressed with chemical restraint as they might with manual restraint, and it allows us to better assess individual dental health much more accurately.

KC:  What is the proper way to brush my pet’s teeth? What can I do if they do not let me brush them? How often should I be brushing my pet’s teeth?

DS:  The proper way to brush your pet’s teeth is the very same technique that we use on ourselves, and were taught as children. If for some reason your pet resists your attempts to brush their teeth his or her teeth, then, at the very least, spreading the paste over the flat surfaces of teeth is better than nothing at all. And, ideally, as with your own teeth, your pet’s should be brushed on a daily basis.

KC:  My pet is young and healthy why does it need blood work prior to cleaning?

DS:  Blood work is recommend for any animal of any age prior to any procedure to be performed under general anesthesia, so that we may check the pet’s liver and kidney function specifically, and the rest of the body’s blood parameters generally. As veterinarians, we strive to make certain that every animal, regardless of their age, is as healthy as possible prior to being placed under general anesthesia.

KC:  Why does my pet need to fast before undergoing anesthesia?

DS:  Fasting is required because we do not want any food or ingest (digested food) in an animal’s stomach at the time of the scheduled dental procedure. The risk is that any of the pre-medications, the anesthesia induction agent or the inhaled anesthesia may cause an animal to vomit. If an animal vomits after any of these medications has been given, the animal is no longer in a position to protect itself from inhaling any of the vomitus. If an animal vomits, and they inhale some of it down their trachea, the animal will likely develop aspiration pneumonia as a result of the inhalation. Therefore, we do not want any type of food or treat in an animal’s stomach at the time of the dental prophylaxis.

the interview continues in Feburary’s Q&A…