At River Road Veterinary Hospital, we take your pet's health and comfort very seriously. And that is why we take DENTISTRY very seriously. Simply put, a pet with dental disease is an unhealthy animal!
Proper pet dentistry always requires full anesthesia. We make anesthesia as safe as possible, through individual patient anesthesia and emergency plans, and dedicated anesthesia monitoring by our trained Licensed Veterinary Technicians. Our Licensed Veterinary Technicians are trained as dental hygienists, and only an LVT will perform your pet's dental cleaning.
We take dental radiographs (x-rays) on every cat and dog under anesthesia for a dental cleaning. Teeth are like icebergs - what you see above the gumline is only part of the tooth, and painful tooth root disease can be present even if your pet doesn't show it. The American Animal Hospital Association requires its Accredited practices (which we are) to use dental radiography.
Over the years, we have found that the biggest problems for pet owners to overcome with regard to dental care for their dogs and cats are (1) they don't see the need, especially because their pet is still eating, and (2) the cost! Holy cow is it expensive!
(1) When we are presented with a pet that has painful infection in their mouth, it can be a challenge to try to have the pet owner put themselves in their pet's place. Have you ever had a painful tooth? Did it keep you from eating? Probably not! Most pets will not show decreased appetite even with very painful dental disease. Eating is one of the prime directives of existence for dogs and cats. They don't give it up readily. And if they do? Well, there's probably more going on than meets the eye.
(2) How much did your last dental procedure cost? Did you have one extraction? A single crown? Did you receive full anesthesia? We're betting it cost over $2,000. Are we close? We are routinely faced with pets that need multiple extractions - 8 or 12 teeth, or more! The cost for these procedures, which require full anesthesia, two Licensed Veterinary Technicians, and one Veterinarian, for what is routinely a 3 to 4-hour anesthesia event, is typically $1,000 to $1,300. No argument, here -- that is a lot of money! We want to help you to understand the large amount of time and effort that goes in to proper dental treatment for dogs and cats. But more importantly, we want you to know that what you are doing for your pet is invaluable - with dental care, you are relieving pain, treating infection, and potentially extending the length and quality of their life.
Here's our take on it: Sometimes, it's just bum luck - a Labrador chews on a rock and causes a slab fracture of the fourth premolar. Ouch! You're looking at around $1,000. Left untreated, your Good Boy will experience daily pain, and, eventually, a tooth root abscess that breaks out on the cheek below the eye. Sometimes, it's genetics - your chihuahua? if you don't have his teeth professionally cleaned every year starting at age 3 or 4, we can almost guarantee that by age 10 you'll be facing multiple extractions, with a dog that has a heart murmur caused by endocarditis from an infected mouth, to the tune of at least $1,300. And the bad breath?! Whoa! Eliminating that alone is worth the cost! We're talking about the owner-pet bond, which is seriously compromised when Mr. Stinky Mouth licks you on the face!
Do you have questions or concerns about your pet's dental care? Please feel free to email us at [email protected] with your pet dental questions!