Birchwood Animal Hospital

2595 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba R3J0P5 Canada

(204) 832-1368

(204) 889-9708


Please watch this video if your pet is scheduled for a dental procedure:

What to expect when your pet is booked for a dental procedure     

There are many factors that affect the condition of your pet's teeth.  We can assist with individual patient dental care using tools such as diet recommendation, oral care products, teeth brushing demonstration and routine cleaning.

Should your pet require a dental procedure involving anesthetic, a level of treatment will be recommended based on your pet's needs.  Dental radiographs are often performed at the time of the procedure.

What is involved?

History and physical exam- This provides the overall status of your pet's oral and physical condition.  A detailed history can indicate specific dental issues.  The manner in which your pet chews its food may be altered by an underlying systemic condition, causing abnormal wear to the incisors.  Impaired cardiopulmonary function can effect anesthesia protocols and should be carefully managed.  It is vital that we note the presence of any oral/facial enlargements, draining tracts, lymph node enlargement, altered eating behaviours, a history of chewing fences or thunderstorm anxiety.  Sometimes antibiotic treatment is instituted before a complete dental prophylaxis is carried out.

Blood screening- This is a blood test that is run prior to an anesthetic that provides information on your pet's health that may influence the safety of the anesthetic or procedure.  It includes red and white cell counts, platelet numbers (clotting ability), kidney function, liver function, blood sugar and protein levels.  A small blood sample is collected from your pet and tested in our laboratory providing results within an hour thereby allowing the veterinarian time to review the data prior to beginning the anesthetic process.

IV fluid support- There appears to be some risk associated with lowered blood pressures during anesthesia, and subsequent development of liver and kidney problems later in life. Intravenous fluids help maintain blood pressure and internal organ function while your pet is undergoing a procedure requiring anesthetic.  An Intravenous catheter will be placed into the foreleg prior to anesthesia.

Initial oral survey- Once your pet has been anesthetized, we look for fractured, mobile or discoloured teeth, oral tumors and essentially, anything out of the ordinary.


Supragingival scaling- This is the most visible step of the dental process, but of least importance.  Typically this will involve a combination of ultrasonic scaling and hand instrumentation.   It is the removal of calculus and plaque from the surfaces of teeth above the gum line.

Subgingival scaling- This is the least visible step but the most important part of the procedure.  It is the removal of calculus and plaque from the surfaces of teeth below the gum line.

Polishing- removes irregularities created by scaling and slows the accumulation of future plaque and calculus.

Lavage of the gingival sulcus- removes infectious debris and foreign material from underneath the gum line. Polishing paste under the gum line can be very irritating to the gingival tissues if not rinsed away.

Fluoride treatment- Fluoride strengthens enamel and helps desensitize exposed root surfaces and exposed dentin.  The application of fluoride is not always a necessary component of your pet's procedure.

Complete charting of all pathology- Charting helps keep track of areas requiring radiographs and further treatment.  It is necessary to evaluate the progression of the patient’s disease over time.

Dental radiographs- Radiographs allow for a comprehensive view of existing pathology, thereby determining the plan for treatment.  They are used for the following purposes:

  • If teeth are missing or mobile.
  • The confirmation of proper extraction.
  • To follow progression of pathology and/or periodontal disease.
  • To support treatment decisions and provide accurate client communication.

Home care instructions-  We will provide a detailed account of your pet's procedure as well as our recommendations and instructions for home care.  A follow up visit may be indicated to assess the response to treatment, we will further demonstrate the home care recommendations and clarify instructions as necessary.

Dental Care Products & Further Information

Levels of Dental Treatment        

The assessment of your pet's oral health will indicate how intensive the recommended procedure will be.  

Full Dental Prophylaxis and Cleaning

This level of treatment is applied when mild to moderate tartar and gingivitis is apparent and no extractions are anticipated.

  • Pre-anesthetic examination.
  • Pre-anesthetic medication including sedative and pain relief.
  • Up to 45 minutes gas anesthesia using isoflurane, a safe, modern anesthetic.
  • Anesthetic monitoring by a licensed Animal Health Technologist/Technician.
  • Complete oral examination by a veterinarian.
  • A dental prophylaxis/cleaning consisting of 2 to 3 units of time:
  • Scaling removes plaque and enamel and helps prevent future accumulation.
  • Fluoride treatment.
  • Hospital stay and care for the day, including post-anesthetic observation.
  • Follow-up dental assessment in 10 to 14 days.

A Wellness Profile, intravenous fluid support, antibiotics and pain medication may be recommended or required.

Wellness Profile: Includes red and white blood cell counts, platelet numbers (clotting ability), kidney function, liver function, blood sugar and protein levels.

Intravenous Support:  Intravenous fluids help maintain blood pressure and internal organ function as well as providing direct access for medication administration.

Should your pet require oral surgery, see below

Oral Surgery

This involves the surgical extraction of severely diseased teeth as well as gum surgery.  Dental radiographs and nerve blocks are often involved.  

This level of treatment applies in the following cases:

  • Periodontal disease may be evident, extractions likely.  Includes the items listed under Full Dental Prophylaxis and Cleaning plus additional anesthesia as well as dental radiographs and nerve blocks if required.
  • Severe periodontal disease evident, several extractions likely.  Includes the items listed under Full Dental Prophylaxis and Cleaning plus additional anesthesia as well as an allowance for several major extractions, nerve blocks and several dental radiographs.

*It is impossible to accurately predict the number and complexity of extractions required before performing a complete oral exam under anesthetic. You will be given the opportunity to approve or decline any additional unanticipated work at the time of the procedure.

The Process: What To Expect

Unless otherwise instructed, owners are advised that pets must be fasted prior to anesthesia.  This means they should not be fed meals/snacks after 8:00 pm the evening prior to the procedure and water should be removed early (6:30 am) on the morning of the procedure.  A small morsel for medication administration is acceptable if necessary.

  • On the morning of the procedure please give all regular/current medications as directed unless otherwise instructed.
  • If regular or recently prescribed medication is required during the hospitalization period, please bring these at the time of admission.
  • If a special diet is required during hospitalization, please bring a small portion at the time of admission.

On the day of the scheduled procedure your pet will be admitted to our hospital between 7:00 and 8:30 am.  A blood sample will be collected for immediate analysis (unless performed at an earlier date) and an intravenous catheter will be placed in your pet's foreleg to administer fluid support while he or she is anesthetized.  The veterinary dental team will then perform the necessary procedure while your pet is monitored by our veterinary technicians.

Once the procedure is complete, your pet then recovers from anesthesia in a warm, comfortable area under constant observation.  Post-treatment care instructions concerning your pet's individual needs will be provided.  

Patients are released from our hospital when they are completely recovered and able to physically and cognitively function in a normal manner.  Each pet responds differently to the anesthetic process and hospitalization time may vary.  Most pets will be hospitalized until late afternoon or early evening unless a longer period is deemed necessary.  

The need for follow up visits is determined on a case-by-case basis as it is dependent upon the treatment applied and your pet's response.

Contact Us

We look forward to hearing from you


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