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Candy, Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 11619
Experience:  Practicing Veterinary Technician for 26 years.Former Veterinary Practice Owner, Technician Trainer
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My 17 year old dog had some tartar on his back teeth. Is it

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My 17 year old dog had some tartar on his back teeth. Is it truly safe for him to have a dental cleaning?
Hello, My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have been a veterinary nurse for 26 years.Thank you for allowing me to assist you today.

I am sorry that you are worried about the possible risks of dental cleaning for Ernie.

First I have to say that we do more dentals and other surgeries on senior pets then on young pets due to age related problems. Its always important to remember that age itself is not a disease and as long as the heart, kidneys and liver are all functioning normally then while there are risks they are not markedly higher then those of younger pets.

Bacteria that builds in the mouth due to bad teeth can have an adverse effect on the kidneys and heart which is why dental cleaning is very important.

Should a cleaning be done in Ernie's case this is hard to say since I can not see what the teeth look like nor do I have access to his medical records.
I can tell you that unless the teeth are horrible we would not do a dental on a high risk patient so I would feel confident in your vets opinion.

If your vet is recommending that a cleaning be done then I am sure they feel that Ernie regardless of age is healthy enough for this to be done or that his teeth are bad enough that the risks to the kidneys and heart are greater then the risks of anesthesia.

Loosing a pet during a surgical procedure or dental while possible is really not something that happens often and most pets do just fine.We now have anesthesia protocols that are specific to the senior pet.

If your vet wants to do a dental I would have blood work and a cardiac workup done and make sure that they do keep pets on oxygen during the procedure. If you are still concerned about what is best you always have the option of getting a second opinion.

I hope this helps. Please reply back if you have additional questions or concerns and I will be happy to continue.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your response. You say that unless his teeth are horrible you wouldn't do a dental on a high risk patient. Do you mean that just because he is old, you wouldn't do it unless they are horrible? He is otherwise fairly healthy although the vet said his heart rate seems low at times. The teeth aren't horrible, but not great.

Sorry I guess that was somewhat confusing. What I meant was that if Ernie was high risk due to his overall health then I doubt your vet would recommend this unless the teeth were horrible . Basically if they are not horrible and your vet has recommended it then I am sure they feel his over health makes him a good candidate for anesthesia. If there is only tarter on the back teeth and the rest are fine then it may be something that can be put off and handled in other manners such as brushing and antibiotics if needed.
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