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Anaesthesia: Why Do Pets Need It Just To Have Their Teeth Cleaned?!

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

When we think of our pets going in for a dental cleaning, it might be perplexing to imagine why anaesthesia is required. After all, we're used to our own dental cleanings, which typically don't involve us being completely sedated. However, there are significant differences between human and pet dentistry that necessitate the use of anaesthesia.

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Why Anaesthesia Is Necessary For Dental Procedures

  1. Anaesthesia allows for your pet to be completely immobilised and pain-free throughout the procedure, making it possible for our vets to clean every nook and cranny of their mouth, including below the gum line where many dental issues originate

  2. It minimises the risk of injury to both your pet and our dental team, as pets can react unpredictably when they're in pain or frightened.


Prior to Your Pet’s Dental Procedure

Upon arrival at our veterinary hospital, your pet will be admitted to the care of our surgical team. They will assess your pet's overall health and discuss the procedure with you.


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  1. Fasting - You will be asked if your pet has fasted overnight. When pets are fasted, it is easier for our veterinary team to induce anaesthesia smoothly. There is less risk of complications related to regurgitation or vomiting during this critical phase.

  2. Pre-Anaesthetic Blood Testing - Depending on your pet's age, breed and health history, pre-anaesthetic blood tests may be conducted to ensure that your pet is a suitable candidate for anaesthesia. These tests help identify any underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of anaesthesia.

  3. Comfortable Ward - Your pet is placed in a comfortable ward tailored to their species (dog or cat). For dogs, a soft bed with an Adaptil diffuser (a pheromone calming aid) and soothing background music is provided. Cats are placed in a quiet area with dimmed lighting and a hidey hole, along with a Feliway diffuser (a pheromone calming product) to reduce stress.

  4. Dental X-Rays - Dental X-rays are a crucial part of the procedure. They allow our veterinarians to evaluate the health of teeth below the gumline, where many dental issues are not visible to the naked eye. X-rays help in identifying fractures, abscesses or other hidden problems.

  5. Dental Charting - Each tooth is individually examined, and the condition of each tooth is recorded on a dental chart. This chart helps track the progression of dental disease and plan for any necessary extractions or treatments.

  6. Use of Human-Grade Equipment - Our vets use human-grade dental scalers and polishers to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your pet's teeth effectively. This ensures a thorough cleaning and reduces the risk of oral infections.

Safety Measures and Protocols

While the use of anaesthesia might raise concerns among pet owners, it's important to understand that anaesthesia in modern veterinary medicine is highly regulated, and strict safety measures and protocols are in place to ensure the well-being of your pet throughout the entire process.


  • Pre-Anesthetic Evaluation. Before the procedure, our vets will conduct a thorough evaluation of your pet's health. This includes reviewing their medical history, conducting a physical examination, and, in some cases, performing blood tests. This evaluation helps determine if your pet is a suitable candidate for anaesthesia and enables our veterinary team to tailor the anaesthesia plan to your pet's specific needs.

  • Individualised Anaesthesia Plan. Anaesthesia is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Your pet's age, breed, size and overall health status all play a role in determining the type and dosage of anaesthesia used. The anaesthesia plan is customised to minimise risks and ensure your pet's comfort and safety during the procedure.

  • Monitoring During Anaesthesia. Once anaesthesia is administered, your pet will be closely monitored by our trained veterinary professionals. This monitoring includes tracking vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen levels. Advanced monitoring equipment is used to detect any abnormalities promptly.

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  • Maintaining Body Temperature. Pets under anaesthesia can lose body heat rapidly, which can lead to complications. To prevent hypothermia, your pet will be kept warm using blankets or specialised heating devices during the procedure.

  • IV Fluid Therapy. Intravenous (IV) fluid therapy is often administered to maintain your pet's hydration and support their vital organs during the procedure. It also helps in the rapid elimination of anaesthesia drugs after the procedure.

  • Pain Management. Pain management is a critical component of anaesthesia. Pets are given pain medications to ensure they are comfortable during and after the dental procedure. This is essential in promoting a smoother recovery.

  • Qualified Veterinary Team. Our skilled and experienced veterinary team will ensure the safety of your pet during anaesthesia. Our team works together to monitor your pet and respond promptly to any changes or complications.

  • Emergency Preparedness. Despite all precautions, unexpected complications can arise during anaesthesia. Our veterinary hospital is equipped with emergency protocols and equipment to address such situations swiftly and effectively. This includes access to medications that can reverse anaesthesia if necessary.

  • Recovery and Post-Anaesthetic Care. After the dental procedure is complete, your pet will be carefully monitored during the recovery period. They will be kept in a quiet, warm and comfortable area until they are fully awake. Our veterinary team will provide post-anaesthetic care instructions, and you'll be updated on your pet's progress.

  • Discharge with Surgical Team. Once your pet has recovered from anaesthesia and is stable, we will call you to arrange a time for discharge from hospital. The surgical team will provide you with post-operative care instructions, including any necessary medications, feeding guidelines and follow-up appointments.

It's important to remember that anaesthesia is used in veterinary dentistry not only for the safety of the dental team but primarily for the well-being of your pet. It allows for a thorough and pain-free dental cleaning or procedure, ultimately benefiting your pet's oral and overall health.


In general, most pets benefit from professional dental cleanings every 6 to 12 months. However, it's crucial to consult with our vets to determine the best cleaning schedule based on your pet's individual needs. To book a COHAT (Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment) please call our friendly customer care team today on (07) 3288 1822.

 

Comprehensive Pet Care for Collingwood Park, Forest Lake, Greater Springfield, Ripley and Beyond

Goodna Vet is your trusted partner for exceptional pet care in a wide range of areas, including Collingwood Park, Greater Springfield, Springfield Lakes, Ripley, Ipswich, Forest Lake, and Redbank Plains. As a premier veterinary clinic, we proudly extend our services to pet owners in Jindalee, Darra, Oxley, Sumner Park, Sinnamon Park, Riverview, Redbank, Dinmore, Karalee, Karana Downs, Camira, Gailes, Brookwater, Augustine Heights, Bellbird Park, Bundamba, Mount Ommaney, Westlake, Riverhills, Middle Park, Jamboree Heights, Richlands, Inala and Ellen Grove. Your furry friend's well-being is our priority, and we can't wait to welcome you both to our clinic.


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