WE ARE PRO-CLAW: For humane and ethical reasons we have chosen no longer to declaw cats. We would love to talk to you about alternatives to this procedure, and explain why, after many years of performing these partial toe amputations, we have come to the conclusion to never to do it again. For similar reasons, we also do not offer tail docking, ear cropping, or debarking.
WE KNOW ABOUT BREED-SPECIFIC ANESTHETIC CONCERNS: Whether your concern is your brachycephalic dog (including boxers, bulldogs and shar peis), your retired racing Greyhound or other sighthound, or your micro-dog, we know how to make the anesthesia as safe as possible for them. This includes avoiding certain drugs, changing the doses of other drugs, keeping them warm, reducing their stress levels, knowing how to interpret their blood results, and protecting their airway.
WE KNOW ABOUT AGE-SPECIFIC ANESTHETIC CONCERNS: Needs are different for pediatrics and geriatrics and the stages in between. Blood sugar levels, temperature and blood pressure all need special attention at the extreme stages of life. We also adjust our drug doses if your pet is overweight or especially nervous. We know that sight and hearing can be a problem as pets age, and that other organs are more likely to have problems too. We offer food to our patients as soon as they are fully recovered from the anesthesia and we spend extra time with those who are having an especially hard time being away from home. Basically we tailor the protocol to the individual, taking into account every aspect of the day.
MAKING THE BIG DAY EASIER FOR BOTH OF YOU: For most pets, their first (and sometimes only) anesthetic and surgical experience is to be spayed or neutered. While these are procedures we perform routinely, we understand that for you and for your pet this is an event out of the ordinary and we will do everything we can to put both of you at ease and make it as stress-free a day as we possibly can. For some pets, and some pet parents, this means having both of you stay at our hospital for the day. You may stay only until your pet is asleep, perhaps returning to be with them when they are waking up, or you may wish to observe entire the procedure - the choice is up to you.
WHO PERFORMS THE PROCEDURE: Soft tissue surgeries (such as those for the bladder, stomach, intestine, skin, and eyes) are performed by our regular veterinarians; orthopedic surgeries (bones & joints) are performed by a board certified surgery specialist who will come to our hospital. Most dental procedures are also performed by us but we will refer you to a veterinary dentist when root canals, crowns or removing dentigerous cysts are necessary.
... to jump to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons' page with information on conditions that are treated surgically.
In the last few years, as awareness about the benefits of having good oral health has grown, we are performing more dental procedures at Park Animal Hospital than ever before. To relieve a pet from the chronic pain they have been living with, and to hear the stories of them playing with their toys again and enjoying their food and cuddles, is absolutely heart-warming for us! Our goal truly is to help your pet live a long and happy life with you - and good oral health is absolutely vital to this.
IF MY PET IS STILL EATING, IS HE/SHE REALLY IN PAIN? We now know enough about the similarity of the pain pathways in animals and people to safely assume that any condition known to be painful to us, is painful to them - they just have a harder time telling us that it hurts. Animals can develop many of the same problems as people (gingivitis, tooth root infections, tooth resorption, cancer, loose and broken teeth) and we all know how a toothache can take over until it is addressed. Pets rarely stop eating due to tooth pain, they may just stop chewing with the side that hurts the most and sometimes the only way to know if your pet is in pain, is to remove any possible sources of pain and see what happens. It is vital not to underestimate the significance on quality of life caused by sub-optimal dental health.
COST: Most pets need a dental cleaning at least once in their lifetime. Depending on their genetics (small dogs have worse oral health than big ones), lifestyle (rambunctious dogs and those given bones to chew on are more likely to break their teeth) and compliance with allowing their teeth to be brushed, some need it much more than this. Most pet parents are surprised at the cost. The main reason these procedures can end up costing hundreds and even a couple of thousand dollars, is that the procedures involved in a proper "dental" cannot be performed properly without full general anesthesia often lasting 2-3 hours. When compared to a spay or neuter, these procedures take much longer, so the cost is naturally also more.
BEFORE THE DENTAL: Bloodwork is run to assess whether or not your pet is a good candidate for the several hours of anesthesia that lie ahead, as well as the blood loss involved in extractions. A pre-anesthetic exam is performed to look for any other issues that need to be addressed. An intravenous catheter is placed for fluid therapy to keep your pet well-hydrated and to allow for smooth administration of all necessary drugs to keep your pet comfortable and as safe as possible (sedatives, pain relievers, antibiotics). Your pet is then anesthetized and intubated (a breathing tube placed to protect their airway) and monitoring equipment is connected to track blood pressure, heart rhythm, oxygen saturation and body temperature. We then make cozy your pet up on a heating pad, place socks on the feet and cover him/her with blankets.
STEPS INVOLVED IN THE ACTUAL DENTAL PROCEDURE: After your pet is anesthetized, we wipe the mouth and teeth with an antiseptic rinse, then we clean every tooth to remove all tartar above and below the gumline using our high-speed ultrasonic scaler. The teeth and jaws are then x-rayed (usually 10 or more views are required to see all the teeth, we have digital machine designed specifically for use on animals to shorten the processing time, reduce radiation, and allow magnification of the images) and an assessment is made for which teeth need to be extracted. Teeth are extracted only if absolutely necessary, and only after you have been contacted. It is done with the utmost care and precision and local "freezing" is given to minimize discomfort afterwards. After any extractions are completed, the remaining teeth are polished to be as clean as possible, the mouth rinsed and your pet gently woken up.
HOME-CARE: In order to avoid build-up of tartar and development or progression of periodontal disease necessitating another anesthetic, it is important to maintain your pet’s dental health through daily brushing and/or VOHC-approved dental chews, treats, food, water additives, oral rinses, and the like. Our staff will be happy to speak with you regarding the best options for your particular pet's needs.
What you need to know about non-anesthetic dentistry: We strongly advise AGAINST anesthesia-free dentistry because, at best, it is incomplete and gives the illusion that something good has been done and, at worst, it puts the patient at risk of life-threatening injuries (aspiration pneumonia, irreparable injuries), and unnecessary stress and pain.
Take a QUIZ! How much do you know about dental care for pets?