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C2003-29

Dear Christopher Cat

Our cat Sparkle, who is 18 years old, recently started drooling all over the furniture.
The vet said the only problem he could find on Sparkle’s physical exam was dental disease.

We’re debating about having Sparkle’s teeth cleaned but, given her advanced age, we’re worried about the anesthesia. What do you think?

Christopher Responds

I think Sparkle will feel better with clean, healthy teeth and gums. I know I do.

Most dental procedures are performed on older animals, so don’t let Sparkle’s age deter you. Old age is not a disease.
Regardless of age, anesthetic risk is higher in cats with diseases of the liver, thyroid, heart and other body systems.

But infections of the gums and teeth also pose a risk, because oral bacteria travel through the blood and invade the kidneys, liver and heart valves.

To help you decide about the dentistry, ask your veterinarian to run a blood panel (including thyroid level) and urinalysis.

If Sparkle’s lab work looks good, have her veterinarian clean her teeth, treat her gum disease, and remove any diseased or broken teeth that otherwise would remain a source of infection for the rest of the body.

Your veterinarian will probably use an inhalant anesthetic like isoflurane which is remarkably safe, even in older animals. He may also prescribe an antibiotic.

Sparkle’s teeth will sparkle, her mouth will be free of pain, and her life undoubtedly will be extended.

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