Shih Tzu dental cleaning under anesthesia: Everything You Need To Know

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Dental health is a crucial aspect of your Shih Tzu’s overall wellness that should never be overlooked. Shih Tzus are particularly prone to dental issues, making regular dental care essential for their long-term health.

This article will guide you through everything you need to know about dental cleaning for your Shih Tzu, specifically focusing on procedures that involve anesthesia.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining your Shih Tzu’s overall health.
  • Dental issues can affect your dog’s ability to eat and maintain proper nutrition.
  • X-rays are crucial for identifying dental problems that are not visible to the naked eye.
  • Anesthesia is generally safe for Shih Tzus when monitored by a professional.
  • Home dental care, including brushing and dental chews, can significantly improve your Shih Tzu’s dental health.

Why Dental Cleaning is Crucial for Your Shih Tzu

Understanding the Risks of Poor Dental Hygiene

Dental health is a vital part of your Shih Tzu’s overall wellness and should never be overlooked. Shih Tzus are particularly prone to dental issues, making it even more important to keep their teeth clean.

Poor dental hygiene can lead to a variety of oral diseases, which can affect your dog’s ability to eat and maintain a healthy diet. Neglecting dental care can result in severe health problems that go beyond just the mouth.

Benefits of Regular Dental Check-ups

Regular dental check-ups allow your vet to closely examine your Shih Tzu’s mouth, teeth, gums, and oral cavity. This thorough examination can help identify issues that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Regular visits ensure that any potential problems are caught early, making treatment easier and more effective. Additionally, these check-ups can help maintain your dog’s overall health and well-being.

How Dental Health Affects Overall Well-being

Good dental health is closely linked to your Shih Tzu’s overall well-being. When your dog’s teeth and gums are healthy, they are more likely to eat well and get the proper nutrition they need.

This contributes to a happier, healthier life. On the other hand, dental issues can cause pain and discomfort, leading to changes in behavior and a decline in quality of life. Keeping your Shih Tzu’s mouth clean and healthy is essential for their overall happiness and longevity.

Common Dental Problems in Shih Tzus

Identifying Signs of Dental Issues

Shih Tzus are prone to dental problems due to their small mouths, which can lead to crowded or crooked teeth. Look for signs like bad breath, difficulty eating, or excessive drooling. Regularly checking your dog’s mouth can help you catch issues early.

Specific Dental Conditions in Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus often suffer from periodontal disease, which can cause gum inflammation and tooth loss. They are also susceptible to endodontic disease due to their shallow tooth roots. Regular vet visits are crucial to manage these conditions.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Dental Problems

To keep your Shih Tzu’s teeth healthy, establish a routine of daily brushing and annual professional cleanings. Dental chews and a proper diet can also help maintain oral health. Regular vet check-ups are essential to catch and treat any issues early.

Preparing Your Shih Tzu for Dental Cleaning Under Anesthesia

Pre-Anesthesia Health Check

Before your Shih Tzu undergoes dental cleaning under anesthesia, a thorough health check is essential. Your vet will perform blood tests and a physical examination to ensure your dog is healthy enough for the procedure. 

This step is crucial to identify any underlying conditions that might pose a risk during anesthesia.

What to Expect During the Procedure

During the dental cleaning, your Shih Tzu will be under anesthesia to ensure they remain still and pain-free. The vet will scale and polish the teeth, removing plaque and tartar buildup.

If necessary, they may also take X-rays to check for hidden issues and perform extractions or fillings.

Post-Procedure Care Tips

After the procedure, your Shih Tzu might feel groggy and disoriented. Provide a quiet and comfortable space for them to rest. Monitor their eating and drinking habits, and follow any specific care instructions from your vet. 

Proper post-procedure care is vital for a smooth recovery.

The Role of X-Rays in Dental Cleaning

Why X-Rays are Necessary

When it comes to dental cleaning for your Shih Tzu, X-rays are an essential tool. They allow veterinarians to see beyond what is visible to the naked eye. Half of each tooth lies beneath the gum line, making it impossible to fully assess dental health without X-rays.

This imaging helps identify hidden issues like abscesses or root problems that could be causing your dog pain.

What Vets Look for in X-Rays

During a dental cleaning, vets use X-rays to look for several key indicators of dental health. These include:

  • Hidden cavities
  • Root abscesses
  • Bone loss
  • Impacted teeth

By identifying these issues early, your vet can take the necessary steps to treat them before they become more serious problems.

How X-Rays Improve Dental Treatment

X-rays significantly enhance the quality of dental care your Shih Tzu receives. They provide a comprehensive view of your dog’s oral health, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and effective treatments.

This means fewer complications and a happier, healthier pet. Additionally, X-rays can guide the vet during procedures like extractions, ensuring that all problematic areas are addressed.

Understanding the Anesthesia Process

Is Anesthesia Safe for Shih Tzus?

When it comes to dental cleaning, anesthesia is a crucial component to ensure your Shih Tzu remains still and pain-free. Modern veterinary anesthesia is generally safe, but it’s natural to have concerns.

Your vet will conduct a thorough pre-anesthetic health check to minimize risks. This includes blood tests to assess organ function and overall health.

Types of Anesthesia Used

There are different types of anesthesia that may be used for your Shih Tzu. Typically, a combination of injectable and inhalant anesthetics is employed.

An IV catheter is placed to administer fluids and medications. Pre-anesthetic sedation helps your pet relax, followed by the induction phase where your dog is gently put under anesthesia.

Monitoring Your Dog During Anesthesia

During the procedure, a dedicated veterinary team member will monitor your Shih Tzu’s vital signs. These include heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and body temperature.

Continuous monitoring ensures any changes in your pet’s health status are promptly addressed, making the process as safe as possible.

Cost of Dental Cleaning for Shih Tzus

Factors Affecting the Cost

The cost of dental cleaning for your Shih Tzu can vary widely based on several factors. These include the location of the veterinary clinic, the experience of the vet, and the specific needs of your dog. 

On average, you can expect to pay around $400 for a professional dental cleaning. However, this price can increase if additional procedures like extractions or X-rays are needed.

Is Pet Insurance Helpful?

Pet insurance can be a valuable asset when it comes to managing the cost of dental care. Some pet insurance plans cover routine dental cleanings, while others may only cover dental issues arising from accidents or illnesses.

It’s essential to read the fine print of your policy to understand what is covered. Investing in a comprehensive plan can save you money in the long run.

Budgeting for Regular Dental Care

Regular dental care is crucial for your Shih Tzu’s overall health, so it’s important to budget for it. Consider setting aside a small amount each month to cover the cost of annual or bi-annual cleanings.

This way, you won’t be caught off guard by the expense. Additionally, maintaining a good home dental care routine can help reduce the frequency of professional cleanings, saving you money over time.

Home Dental Care Tips for Shih Tzus

Daily Brushing Techniques

Brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth daily is one of the most effective ways to maintain their dental health. Use a gentle toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs. Start slowly, allowing your dog to get used to the sensation. Consistency is key—make it a part of your daily routine.

Using Dental Chews Effectively

Dental chews can be a great addition to your Shih Tzu’s dental care regimen. These chews help reduce plaque and tartar buildup while also freshening their breath. Make sure to choose chews that are appropriate for your dog’s size and dental needs.

Diet and Its Impact on Dental Health

What your Shih Tzu eats can significantly affect their dental health. A balanced diet with minimal sugar is crucial. Dry kibble can help scrape off plaque, while wet food may contribute to faster plaque buildup. Consult your vet for dietary recommendations tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

Choosing the Right Dental Products for Your Shih Tzu

Best Toothbrushes and Toothpastes

Selecting the right toothbrush and toothpaste is crucial for maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health. Opt for a toothbrush with soft bristles designed specifically for dogs. 

Human toothpaste is not safe for dogs, so make sure to choose a toothpaste formulated for canine use. These toothpastes often come in flavors like chicken or beef, making the brushing experience more enjoyable for your pup.

Quality dental chews can significantly benefit your Shih Tzu’s oral health. These chews are designed to clean your dog’s teeth almost as effectively as brushing.

The chewing action helps scrape off plaque and tartar, and many chews contain ingredients that prevent further build-up and freshen your dog’s breath. Most dogs love dental chews, making them a delicious and effective way to maintain oral hygiene.

Avoiding Harmful Ingredients

When choosing dental products, it’s essential to avoid harmful ingredients. Steer clear of products containing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Additionally, avoid chews and treats with grains, by-products, and meals, as these can contribute to plaque and tartar build-up. Opt for high-quality, natural products to ensure the best care for your Shih Tzu’s teeth.

Also checkout How to Properly Groom A Shih Tzu Dog

Signs Your Shih Tzu Needs Immediate Dental Attention

Recognizing Dental Pain

If your Shih Tzu is experiencing dental pain, you might notice them pawing at their mouth, drooling excessively, or refusing to eat. Behavioral changes such as irritability or lethargy can also be indicators of discomfort.

When to Visit the Vet

It’s crucial to schedule a vet visit if you observe any signs of dental issues. These can include bad breath, loose or broken teeth, and bleeding gums. Early intervention can prevent more serious health problems down the line.

Emergency Dental Care Options

In cases where your Shih Tzu is in severe pain or has a dental emergency, seek immediate veterinary care. Some clinics offer emergency services specifically for dental issues, ensuring your pet gets the urgent attention they need.

Long-term Benefits of Regular Dental Cleaning

Extending Your Dog’s Lifespan

Regular dental cleanings can significantly extend your Shih Tzu’s lifespan. By preventing gum disease and tooth decay, you reduce the risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream and causing serious health issues. Healthy teeth and gums contribute to a longer, happier life for your furry friend.

Improving Quality of Life

A clean mouth means your Shih Tzu can enjoy their favorite foods without pain or discomfort. Regular dental care helps maintain strong teeth and healthy gums, which in turn improves their overall quality of life. Imagine your dog being more active and playful simply because they are free from dental pain.

Preventing Serious Health Issues

Dental problems can lead to severe health complications if left untreated. Regular cleanings help prevent conditions such as heart disease, kidney issues, and infections. By keeping your Shih Tzu’s mouth clean, you’re taking a proactive step in safeguarding their overall health. 

Preventive care is always better than reactive treatment.

Maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health is crucial for their overall well-being and happiness. Regular professional cleanings under anesthesia, combined with at-home care like brushing and dental chews, can prevent serious health issues and ensure your furry friend enjoys a long, healthy life. Remember, a clean mouth is a key part of your pet’s overall health, so don’t overlook this important aspect of their care.


Is dog dental cleaning really necessary?

During dog teeth cleanings and other procedures, the vet can closely look at your dog’s mouth, teeth, gums, and oral cavity. The vet will take x-rays to look for problems that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

When there’s a problem with the teeth, your dog may not eat as much or maintain a healthy diet. They need proper nutrition for a happy, healthy life.

How do I keep my Shih Tzu’s mouth clean?

Keep your dog’s teeth healthy by keeping them clean. Start with a gentle toothbrush and toothpaste made for dogs. Brush and floss regularly at home. Next, take your dog to the vet at least once a year for a proper cleaning to remove plaque and buildup.

Give your dog dental chews to help improve their breath and keep their teeth in good condition. Finally, keep your dog on a healthy diet with very little sugar, as it can decay teeth faster.

Are Shih Tzus prone to dental problems?

Yes, Shih Tzus are more prone to dental problems than some other breeds. They may have an underbite or an undershot bite, which can cause issues with eating or harm the soft tissues in their mouth. Regular dental check-ups are essential to prevent long-term issues.

Why are x-rays necessary during dental cleaning?

Plaque can build up below the gum line, which is where a toothbrush cannot reach. X-rays during dental cleanings allow the vet to check the health of the jawbone and tooth roots.

While your dog is asleep, the vet will scale and polish its teeth to get rid of plaque and tartar. Veterinarians can also fill or remove teeth safely when necessary.

How often should I get my Shih Tzu’s teeth professionally cleaned?

You should get your Shih Tzu’s teeth cleaned professionally at least once a year, or twice a year if you are not consistent in brushing and flossing their teeth on a regular basis.

What are the costs associated with dog dental cleaning?

The cost of dog dental cleaning starts at around $400. Keep in mind that dogs need to be put under anesthesia for teeth cleaning, which adds to the overall cost.

What are the benefits of dental chews for my Shih Tzu?

Quality dental chews are a major benefit to your Shih Tzu’s overall health and well-being. They are made specifically to clean your dog’s teeth almost as effectively as brushing with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

The chewing action scrapes off plaque and tartar, and they are filled with ingredients to help prevent further build-up and make your dog’s breath fresher.

How do I clean my Shih Tzu’s teeth at home?

Start taking care of your Shih Tzu’s teeth as soon as your puppy gets home. Use a gentle toothbrush and toothpaste made for dogs. Be gentle and take your time, giving the pup breaks to close their jaw. Use a silicone toothbrush you can use on your fingers for a more thorough and comfortable brushing.

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