The Norman Transcript

November 1, 2012

Is anesthesia worth the risk for pets?

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I have three cats — ages 1, 2 and 3 years old. They have never had their teeth cleaned. I took my previous cats to a veterinarian who would clean their teeth while he gave them their annual shots — without putting them under. I no longer have that veterinarian. I am concerned that the new vet wants to put my cats under general anesthesia. I’m worried about the cost and the danger.

What do you think about cats and teeth cleaning?

— S.F., St. Louis

Dear S.F.: I am receiving more and more letters like yours, and it does concern me that veterinarians are putting cats and dogs through the risks of general anesthesia. In many instances, putting the cat under is not warranted when the teeth cleaning needed is minor and the animal is amenable to gentle and effective restraint in a blanket wrap. In some instances, a mild sedative must be administered.

It is true that the older veterinarians did not routinely put cats and dogs under for minor dental work.

With new equipment, rising practice costs and a new generation of graduates more aware of the high incidence of dental diseases in cats and dogs — in part due to the kinds of manufactured pet foods these animals are consuming — giving a general anesthetic for any and all dental procedures is becoming a standard practice. But it needs to be questioned, especially when animals die as a consequence.

Very often only some tartar and scale on the back molars need to be removed, and this can be done with a fingernail.

Applying PetzLife Oral Care spray or gel formulated for cats can help loosen scale, fight any gum inflammation and reduce infection (oral dysbiosis).

It should be used, in my opinion, for three to five days (closely following the manufacturer’s instructions) before any dental procedure is done on cats and dogs. This may help reduce post-anesthetic complications associated with oral dysbiosis by reducing the inflammation and bacterial infection prior to dental surgery.

Such products also can be used on a routine, short-period basis as a way to prevent dental problems in pets.

Try it along with safe chewy things cats and dogs enjoy, like scalded raw chicken wing tips and thin strips of beef shank meat for cats and organic rawhide strips (processed in the U.S) and scalded raw chicken or turkey necks for dogs.

For more details visit my website,

Lawn chemicals and the risk of canine malignant lymphoma: Malignant lymphoma is an all-too-common cancer in dogs.

After adjustment for dogs’ age, weight and other factors, the use of specific lawn-care products was found to be associated with greater risk of canine malignant lymphoma (CML), according to a recent report in the journal “Environmental Research” by Dr. B.B. Takashima-Uebelhoer and associates. Specifically, the use of professionally applied pesticide was associated with a 70 percent higher risk of CML.

Risks were also higher in those reporting use of self-applied insect growth regulators, but the use of flea and tick control products was found to be unrelated to risks of CML.

Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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