YOUR PET NEEDS A DENTAL PROCEDURE!

Our mission at The Natural Vets is to get your pet on their Path to Wellness.  

If a dental procedure has been recommended for your fur baby,  please read the following information before the big day.  It will help alleviate any concerns and ensure the best outcome possible.

 

WHY DO PETS NEED THEIR TEETH CLEANED?

Surely they don’t see a dentist in nature?  Well no they don’t.  But most pets aren’t hunting for their food and cleaning their teeth on all the sinews and cartilage, fur and feathers contained in nature’s prey.   And recent studies of wild dogs and feral cats show that most of them have dental disease too!

Nearly 90% of pet dogs and 70% of pet cats over 3 years old have dental disease.  And if you have a small breed dog, the percentage is even higher (close to 100% over the age of 2!) 

Stinky breath, tartar, and red inflamed gums, although common, are not healthy.  Dental disease hurts!  

Your pet needs veterinary dental treatment.  Once plaque has hardened into tartar, no amount of brushing or chewing on bones will clean it off.  It can only be removed with a professional dental clean. Tartar is akin to concrete, and you need a ‘jackhammer’ to get the job done (so to speak! – we don’t really use jackhammers!).

And yes, this means going under anaesthetic.  Your pet won’t just open wide and allow us to use sharp metal instruments in their mouth.  And sometimes we need to use drills!  It is safer and less stressful for your pet to be anaesthetised for a dental procedure.  Only a light plane of anaesthesia is required and is generally very safe.

 

WHAT EXACTLY IS DENTAL DISEASE?

Tartar is a normal process that happens in every animal – including lizards and seals! 

It is basically a sticky bacterial biofilm that coats the teeth that is difficult to remove effectively.  As it builds up on the tooth surface, it is also stealthily creeping below the gumline.  Infection below the gum line will not only destroy the attachments tissues of the teeth leading to loose painful teeth, it will also destroy the surrounding bone, and even damage other organs in the body.  Advanced dental disease can even lead to things like jaw fracture and heart failure.

We can’t prevent tartar.  We can only continuously manage the state of your pet’s mouth, and regular dental cleans are an important component of effective dental hygiene.

Most pets show no sign there is a problem in their mouth until it’s too late and we can’t save the teeth!  

Want more information on dental disease and how it affects your pet?  Watch this 11 minute video!  (Then keep reading the information below!)

 

SO HOW ARE WE GOING TO TREAT YOUR PET’S TEETH?

Unfortunately, when there is tartar on the teeth, there is also nasty infection BENEATH the gum.  Only radiographs will diagnose problems below the gumline.  Without radiographs severe and painful dental disease can be missed.  NOT ALL VETS HAVE DENTAL RADIOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT.

At The Natural Vets every tooth in your pet’s mouth is examined and graded, then dental x-rays are taken.

If extractions need to be performed, the techniques used are gentle and delicate.  A gum flap is raised to expose roots, which are sectioned in multi-rooted teeth, then elevated and removed individually.  This avoids the risk of breaking tooth roots which can occur with less advanced techniques.  The gum is sutured closed to aid healing and comfort.

Please note that although every effort is made to salvage teeth, removing irreversibly diseased teeth is best for the health of your pet, no matter their age. Dogs have 42 teeth in total and cats have 32 and they manage well with even no teeth at all!

We relieve pain with injectable pain medicine, nerve blocks, and herbal remedies.

Once necessary extractions are complete, the remaining teeth are scaled and then polished back to sparkling! 

 

PRIOR PREPARATION REQUIRED

A blood test that checks internal health and organ function is required (if not already done).  This assures us that an anaesthetic will be as safe as possible.  

If any changes are noted on the blood results we may need to modify the surgery/anaesthetic plan, or change our surgery timeframe and treat other diseases identified first.

Additional diagnostic tests may be recommended if changes are found on bloods.  

The better we prepare for an anaesthetic, the safer it will be.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY

We admit patients early in the morning.  They get checked over, vital parameters recorded, and blood tests done if not already performed.  

All our dental patients are put on intravenous fluids.  This enables emergency access to a vein and aids anaesthetic safety and recovery. 

We administer a sedative to relax them, then the Vet injects an anaesthetic drug which makes them sleepy and places their breathing tube.  All surgical patients are maintained on a safe gaseous anaesthetic while the surgery is taking place. 

An assigned nurse monitors the anaesthetic and recovery vigilantly, watching critical parameters like heart rate & rhythm, pulse quality, breathing rate & depth, anaesthetic depth, oxygenation, temperature and blood pressure.

Our dental Nurse will chart your pet’s mouth, looking for any trouble spots or pain points, and a record is kept on your pet’s file for future reference.  Dental radiographs are then taken.

Some teeth may be irreversibly diseased.  If extractions are necessary, we use nerve blocks to minimise pain.  We administer strong pain relief to keep your pet comfortable.  They are discharged with additional pain relief to ensure post-op comfort.

We administer intravenous Vitamin C post-op to speed recovery, healing and reduce any infection risk.  This is a unique offering at The Natural Vets.

We keep your pet cosy, calm and warm throughout the day, and administer supportive natural medicines for anxiety, bleeding, and discomfort.

Our Nurses closely monitor your pet’s recovery, and we reassure your pet (and you!) throughout their stay so everyone is relaxed and at ease.  

 

WHEN CAN I EXPECT UPDATES ON MY PET?

We will keep you informed of progress whilst your pet is in our care via both SMS messages and phone calls including updates during the procedure if necessary and again once complete.  You will receive a phone call from your pet’s Nurse once they are stable in recovery.

The dental vet will update you on any complex matters.  Then at the discharge appointment your pet’s Nurse will run through any post-op care required.  

 

IMPORTANT THINGS TO BE AWARE OF

We admit all surgery & dental patients between 7-8am and discharge in the afternoons unless advised otherwise.  

The timing of your pet’s procedure will be decided on the day dependent on all our patient’s needs.  Be prepared for your pet to stay with us for a full day.

If your pet is prone to stress/anxiety, advise us in advance so we can plan our day accordingly and try to limit their time in hospital.

 

WILL UNEXPECTED FEES ARISE?

Potentially yes.  

We cannot determine exactly which teeth need extracting or how long it will take until your pet has had their mouth evaluated under anaesthesia.

Only 20% of pets have dental disease detected when conscious, but once anaesthetised that percentage is closer to 100%!

The final fee is dependent upon the number of teeth that need extracting, the complexity of the surgery, and the time taken to extract the teeth then repair the rest. 

Dental procedures can be routine, textbook, and go exactly as planned.  Sometimes however unexpected events arise that may not have been quoted for.  We will endeavour to contact you regarding any changes to your pet’s treatment plan or if unexpected events arise.  

In the unlikely event that a life-threatening emergency arises such as a cardiac or respiratory arrest, we will initiate emergency measures before getting in touch.  Any fees associated with emergency measures will be charged.  Should you not wish us to initiate resuscitation measures for any reason please advise us of your directive during your pet’s admission appointment.

 

HOW CAN I PAY MY BILL?

Full payment is required on discharge.

If you are unable to finance the costs of your pet’s procedure or any unexpected fees that may arise, please talk to us about online credit options where instant on-line approval can often be obtained.

We can take pre-payment instalments in advance if you need help saving for your pet’s procedure.

If you have pet insurance please check with your insurer whether they are likely to cover some of the costs involved.

 

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO ON THE DAY?

Remember not to feed your pet on the morning of the procedure (no food after 8pm the night before).

Book in on a day when you can arrive at your scheduled admission time with time to sign the admission form and pick up (unless advised otherwise) between 3pm and 5pm.  

For canine parents, please take them for a sniffing walk outside on arrival and allow an opportunity to wee/poo before coming into the clinic.

If you have any questions or concerns please discuss these with us on admission.

Nail clips, ear cleaning, anal gland expression and grooming around the face can also be done so advise us on the day if anything extra needs doing.

Be contactable all day in case we need to communicate with you urgently – keep your phone on you!

Understand that every anaesthetic has an element of risk.  We do all we can to mitigate the risks and manage critical patients safely.

Try not to worry!  We will update you throughout the day and you are welcome to call us too.

Once home, keep your pet close to you and monitor their recovery.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT ON DISCHARGE

We take pre- and post-op photos to show you during the discharge appointment.  We will show you which trouble spots you need to focus your homecare on.

Your pet may have a pressure bandage on their leg from where the catheter was removed from their vein.   You can remove it once you arrive home.  If you leave it in place the paw may swell.  

If your pet has a pain relief patch applied, there may also be a bandage present. Do NOT remove this bandage without veterinary guidance.

If you have any questions about bandages please call!

 

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS

Food and Water

Offer water only, in small amounts (1/4 cup or less at a time) for the first few hours.  If your pet drinks water without vomiting it back up, after two hours you can allow free access to fluid.

Offer a fluid meal the first night if your pet seems hungry.  Bone broth is a great option to have on hand.

If your pet is after more food, offer something easily digestible eg Prime 100 roll, cooked turkey & pumpkin mix.

If your pet is quiet and resting, it is better not to burden their body with the task of digesting food.

The following day if your pet still has no appetite, continue with bone broth, offered a few times throughout the day.  Bone broth provide nutrients and hydration without burdening the digestion excessively, freeing up energy needed for the healing process.

Within 2-3 days your pet’s appetite should have returned and you can begin feeding easily digested meals as directed.  Cut up squares of meat or Prime 100 roll are suggested if your pet has had dental extractions.  Please no abrasive or mushy food during the healing phase.

Elimination

Your pet has received intravenous fluids and vitamin C and so you may notice an increase in urine production.  It is important to take your pet out to toilet more frequently than usual and change their bedding if necessary.  

It may be 2-3 days before a stool is passed, and the first stool may be smaller than usual.  If it has been 3 days and you have not seen your pet pass any stool, or if your pet is straining to pass stool and nothing is being produced, please contact us.

Environment

Your pet may have difficulty regulating their body temperature for the first 24 hours so ensure they are kept warm or cool, depending on the ambient temperature.

Ensure your pet’s bedding is in a quiet area during recovery that is free of draughts, and they have plenty of blankets to snuggle into.

Exercise

Limit exercise as directed by your Vet/Nurse.  Usually for a minimum 5 day period quiet activity and leash-restricted exercise is advised.  

Surgery Site

Your pet may have sutures in their gums if teeth have been extracted.  These will dissolve on their own.  

 

PROBLEMS TO WATCH FOR

Please call us immediately if any of the following occur:

  • Repeated persistent vomiting
  • Excessive discharge or bleeding from the mouth or nose
  • Continued discomfort or pain
  • Extreme lethargy or disorientation
  • Persistent cough
  • Inappetance of >3 days duration
  • Straining to pass stool post-op
  • Any newly apparent eye issues

Note that a slight cough post-op for 1-3 days may be encountered due to irritation from the tube placed in your pet’s airway.  This should resolve on its own without intervention.

 

​AFTER-CARE

You will receive a phone call the following morning so we can check in on your pet.  

If at any stage you are concerned about your pet’s recovery please get in touch.  You can phone us during business hours on 5476 7674.

If you need advice after-hours please phone the Animal Emergency Service in Tanawha on 5445 1333.

We provide a free recheck appointment with a nurse within 7 days of your pet’s procedure.  Even if your pet is recovering smoothly and you have nothing to be concerned about, please ensure you return for this appointment, so we can make a big fuss of your pet, reward them for how brave they were, and give them a joyful experience to remember us by.