The Truth About Anesthesia Free Pet Dental Cleanings

A pet dental cleaning that doesn’t require anesthesia – it’s a new fad and may sound like a great solution for pet owners who are nervous about their pet going under anesthesia, plus it seems like a cheaper option. But, before a pet owner chooses an anesthesia free cleaning, they might want to consider that taking your dog to have their teeth cleaned by a someone who is not a veterinarian, would be like us having our teeth cleaned by someone who isn’t a dentist.

Dr. Tony Woodward, DVM, AVDC discusses pet anesthesic safety.

A complete dog or cat dental cleaning is a multi-step process including, oral exam, veterinary dental x-rays, cleaning below the gum line, scaling plaque from teeth and identifying potential painful problems in your pet’s mouth. Imagine how afraid and upset you might be if you were restrained while someone did all of this to you and you had no idea what was going on and couldn’t speak up if it hurt. Then, consider that the necessary cleaning under the gum line where pet periodontal disease begins can’t be accomplished with an anesthesia free cleaning. The anesthesia free cleanings also leave a very rough surface on a pet’s tooth which actually promotes bacteria growth and future dental disease.

Dr. Chris Visser, DVM, AVDC discusses safe anesthesia for pet dental cleanings.

Anesthesia free pet dentistry is not really dentistry at all. No medical benefits are provided to the pet and periodontal disease progresses in the dog or cat’s mouth at the same pace it normally does.  In addition, it wastes the clients’ money so they cannot afford to have a proper dental procedure done. The biggest issue, however, is that it gives the client a false sense of security that their pet has had proper dental care. However, when dental disease or painful conditions are properly identified during a veterinary dental cleaning, there are a number of treatments a veterinary dentist can employ to correct them early on before causing more extensive and expensive damage. 

It’s understandable that people are afraid to put their put under anesthesia, but the very minimal risk associated with pet anesthesia, are miniscule when compared with the risks of untreated periodontal disease and pain in your pet’s mouth. Appropriately administered general pet anesthesia is extremely low risk for the pet patient, as a result of a combination of pre-anesthetic tests (including blood tests), use of modern anesthetic agents, local anesthetic blocks (which minimizes the depth of general anesthesia required), plus modern anesthetic monitoring equipment. Many pets are awake and standing within 15-20 minutes of completion of the procedure and go home the same day.