...and the questions YOU need to ask!
Monday Medical Dental Health Series: Part 3
Previous: 2/4/13: Overview
2/11/13: Interview with Dr. Huber, part 1
|Maxwell examines Faraday's teeth up close & personal.|
"Dood, you need to start flossing!"
I have to admit, my concerns ramped up a while back when a vet tech at our shelter informed me that cats need to be monitored closely as they often stop breathing while sedated.
So I asked our veterinarian about it. You met Dr. Sara Huber last week during part 1 of this interview on dental health. Now she answers my concerns about anesthesia. First up: do cats stop breathing under anesthesia?
For the other cases, we will use a bag on our anesthetic machine to administer a few breaths for the patient until their own respiratory center takes over and tells them to breathe again.
In very rare cases, the animal will not breathe on his own. Should that occur, a technician will administer breaths for them throughout the procedure.
I personally have never had a patient that had to be 'bagged' the entire time, but it is a remote possibility. This is just another reason why we have continuous electronic and hand monitoring of the patient throughout the procedure. If a patient does stop breathing for whatever reason, we have many ways to help them return to spontaneous respiration.
|Green bag allows a technician to breathe for your pet |
(this unit from shopmedvet.com)
The entire time he's under anesthesia your pet’s breathing, pulse, oxygen level, and heart activity is being monitored, and a blood pressure is taken every 3-5 minutes.
This way we know we’ve taken every possible precaution to keep your pet safe and healthy while anesthetized. And this is standard procedure in most veterinary practices.
A Tonk's Tail: We've heard that cats have more trouble coming out from under anesthesia than dogs do. We've also heard that some breeds are more prone to respiratory distress than others.
Do you do anything differently in these situations?
DH: I think it's far more important to base our care on an individual basis rather than a breed basis. Yes, some dog and cat breeds may have shortened nasal passages. Of course we take that into account, but any veterinarian will tell you that it's far more important to know an animal's specific medical history and current state of health.
|Champion Persian (GNU Free License)|
During recovery, all animals are monitored by a technician for any distress and a veterinarian is always nearby to address any emergent issues.
Every anesthetic procedure comes with some degree of inherent risk (and by the way, this goes for human beings as well!). So I emphasize again the importance of pre-anesthetic testing and continuous monitoring to give your pet the best chance for a routine procedure and a healthy recovery.
The only cat I've ever seen lost to complications post-anesthesia was a cat whose owner refused to give permission for a pre-dental blood screening.
Thankfully, our practice refuses to perform a procedure like this without a full blood panel. These tests tell you so much, and give warning for conditions that can be life-threatening where anesthesia is concerned.
ATT: Are there any actions a pet owner should take prior to a dental cleaning?
DH: I would say that before you agree to any procedure, you should have a detailed discussion with your vet.
If your veterinarian does not offer up the following information, here are several important questions that I think should be raised:
- What pre-anesthetic blood testing do you perform prior to the procedure?
- What monitoring equipment is used during and post procedure?
- Will the doctor be present for the entire procedure?
- Do you have dental radiography?
This is a very important question! Dental x-rays can help diagnose suspected disease definitively and often will uncover disease we did not know was present. It can also help the doctor to assure that the entire root was removed after an extraction - an invaluable tool.
- What kind of home care do you recommend following the procedure?
|Quite the under bite! (Photo: public domain)|
So I would strongly advise all pet owners to heed the recommendations of their veterinarian and have routine dental cleanings performed on their pets.
I understand that they can often be somewhat expensive, but truthfully it saves the pet a lot of possible pain and illness down the road.
Many thanks to Dr. Sara Huber for her time answering these questions on pet dental health!
Understanding Anesthesia in Cats
Pet Meds Online: Cat Health
Trupanion Breed Guide Health Concerns