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Discussion Starter #1
I have a little 8 year old Chihuahua who has the beginning stages of heart disease. She has a grade 2 heart murmur and a bit of plaque on one of her valves. She has had it for at least a year (maybe 2-3 years) and has no symptoms and is not on any medication.

She has quite a bit of tartar build-up on her teeth. The tops of her white teeth are now a yellow-y brown so she needs to get her teeth cleaned. However, that means she needs to get sedated with anesthesia. I am wondering what are people’s experience with their dogs with heart disease and dental cleanings? Is it worth the risk? I am so scared that she will not make it out of the anesthesia alive. I know that even completely healthy dogs die during dental cleanings so it makes me more nervous to get her teeth cleaned now that I know her heart is weak. But of course I know she can get worse diseases and problems if she does not get her teeth cleaned.

If anyone is wondering, her teeth were last cleaned about 5 years ago but her teeth really weren't that bad until a few months ago. Vets kept saying she could wait to get her teeth cleaned but now they are saying she really needs it done.

Also, if I do get my dog’s teeth cleaned it will be with a veterinary dentist.


I am just looking for people’s experiences with their dogs with heart disease getting dental cleanings. Like, did you opt out of a dental and why?

Or did your dog get a dental and everything was fine?

Also did you get your dog checked out by a veterinary cardiologist before getting the dental done?

I would just like to know any and all information you could give me on dogs with heart disease getting sedated dental cleanings. Thank you :)
 

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A grade 2 murmur is very mild. Sassy had a grade 3 plus the start of kidney disease and she came through a dental, huge lipoma removal AND a growth on her eyelid procedure with flying colors AND she was a 13.5 year old 42 pound dog!

Consult with your vet about precautions to take and if it would make you more comfortable then consult with a cardiologist as well.
 

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Yellowdaisy2, your question is a very good one. Unfortunately, saying that your dog has a certain grade of heart murmur and wondering about their safety under anesthesia would be a little bit like saying to a mechanic that your car has "a bit of engine trouble" and wondering if it would survive a long cross-country trip. There are many types of heart disease which create murmurs, all of which would react differently under anesthesia. If you think that your dog needs to be anesthetized, your best course would be to have an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) performed to determine exactly what condition the heart is in. If that isn't available locally, your vet should be able to perform chest X-rays and a "vertebral heart score" (measurement of heart size to determine objectively how much enlargement has occurred) as well as an EKG (electrical tracing of the heart). Most patients with compensated heart disease who are stable when not under anesthesia do well under anesthesia, but you are always better off to be cautious and learn as much as you can about your dog's heart before anesthetizing them. Good luck!
 

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In my local area, there are some groomers who will do tartar removal on dogs without sedating them. However, it obviously depends on how comfortable the dog is with having its mouth intimately handled by a stranger, which is something a lot of dogs are not comfortable with, but it might be something to look into.
 

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If anyone is wondering, I think this is what I am going to do:
First I am going to have my dog thoroughly evaluated by the cardiologist at my state's veterinary university. If he or she says her heart is fine for anesthesia then I will go back to the university about 3 weeks later for the dental cleaning which will be done by the university's vet dentist and the anesthesia will be done by one of the university's vet anesthesiologists.

I took my dog in to see a vet dentist today and she said that she really does not believe anything will go wrong with my dog because her heart disease is so mild. She also said she has never had a dog have any problems or die where the dog had the same problems that my dog has. She said she can't even recall the last time she has had a patient die during the dental because it was so long ago. I am not going to have this vet dentist do the cleaning though. I just went to her to see what she thinks about my dog's teeth and heart to get an opinion from someone who does cleanings and anesthesia on high risk animals often.

I did LOADS of reading and research and I am feeling better about getting a dental done but only because I will have a board certified veterinary anesthesiologist there doing all the sedation and monitoring. I think that most deaths happen because the vet technician doing the anesthesia just is not very experienced and they do not monitor everything very well before, during, and after the procedure.

Obviously I am still nervous. I am going to do some more reading and research and I have sooo many questions for the anesthesiologist. So I am not 100% on my decision but I will most likely be doing what I said above.
 

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I hope everything goes well!
 
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