faq frequently asked questions at wcvds

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my pet being referred to West Coast Veterinary Dental Services?

There are many reasons a veterinarian may suggest an appointment with a dental specialist. An oral or dental concern may have been noted during a routine visit to your veterinarian or you have observed changes in your pet’s behaviour or eating habits that causes you concern.  It is also possible that an oral trauma has occurred prompting your referral.

Can I see West Coast Veterinary Dental Services without a referral?

No.  Your veterinarian needs to initiate the referral and send us the completed referral forms detailing your pet’s concerns, recent lab results and/or dental radiographs.  We do encourage you to discuss West Coast Veterinary Dental Services with your veterinarian and it is acceptable to request a referral.   Your veterinarian will need to initiate our meeting by sending the necessary forms.

Will West Coast Veterinary Dental Services contact me?

Yes.  After reviewing the referral form and history sent by your veterinarian a member of our team will contact you.  We will set up a consultation and procedure date for your pet and we will do our best to give an approximation of cost.  A more accurate estimate will be given to you during the consultation visit.

Can I contact you after my veterinarian has initiated a referral?

Our team at West Coast Veterinary Dental Services makes every effort to contact our referrals in a timely manner. If your veterinarian has completed your referral to us and you have not received a phone call or voicemail from our office or if you need to make changes to a scheduled visit, please contact us.  West Coast Veterinary Dental Services cannot schedule an appointment for your pet without a referral from your regular veterinarian.  If you have already had treatment with us, you may contact us directly for follow-up visits.

Will my pet need current vaccinations?

Please discuss your pet’s current health and vaccination records during the initial phone consultation.  Your pet may require additional attention before being admitted.

When is West Coast Veterinary Dental Services open?

Where is West Coast Veterinary Dental Services located?

What are the treatment options and cost?

Based on the referral information from your regular veterinarian and the initial pre-anaesthetic examination our veterinarian will explain your options for treatment and have a team member prepare and print an estimate for you outlining the expected costs. Our office will be prepared to go ahead with your pet’s procedure the same day, with your consent. In some cases your pet will need to return for follow up visits or ongoing treatment. We will provide separate estimates for future work.


Payment is due in full at time of service. We accept Visa, Mastercard, Amex Debit and Cash. We do not accept personal cheques or post-dated payments.  We do not offer payment plans.

Can I feed my pet before the consultation?

Your dog should not have anything to eat after midnight the night before the consultation. Access to water is fine up until you leave home in the morning. Your cat is allowed access to food and water until 6am the day of the procedure.  “Pocket pets”, (rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, etc.) should not have food or water withheld.

What forms will I need to complete?

There are two forms; a Pet Owner Information Formand a Patient Questionnaire.  During your consultation an Estimate and Consent form will be provided for your signature in order for the recommended procedure to be performed. The Consent form requires that you provide a phone number(s) where you can be contacted during the day. Your pet will then be admitted for procedure.

Why is a COHAT (Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment) necessary?

A COHAT is a complete professional cleaning and treatment as needed.  This is necessary to provide the best oral health for your pet.  Like us, cats and dogs develop plaque within hours of brushing or after a cleaning.  Even with daily brushing, an annual cleaning is recommended to keep the mouth at its healthiest.  At the annual cleaning we will be able to probe and examine each tooth to determine if care is needed.  Radiographs may also be performed.  Regular COHATs will keep your pet happier, healthier and may help to extend their life span.

Why would my pet need to be anaesthetized for the consultation?

Every case and pet is different. It is our goal to make your pets visit as painless and stress free as possible. Even with the most co-operative pets, it’s not possible to fully examine all aspects of the mouth without the use of sedation and/or anaesthesia.  To obtain our digital radiographs a sensor is placed in your pet’s mouth.  The pet needs to be sedated or anesthetized to have them completely still and to prevent any damage to our sensor.  During the procedure, your pet must be anesthetized and intubated.  This allows us to perform a thorough exam without the pet being anxious or painful and it prevents any water from entering their lungs during the cleaning portion of the procedure.

Will my pet require blood work?

Pre-anesthetic blood screening is necessary prior to a procedure. This should be done with your veterinarian prior to your visit with us.  If recent blood work is available from another veterinary hospital we will not need to repeat it. With middle age and older pets we strongly suggest chest radiographs to look for signs of pulmonary disease, cardiac disease, masses or growths prior to procedure.

Why would my pet require a dental radiograph?

Dental radiographs are crucial in determining the best course of action as the majority of dental problems are found below the gum line. We take digital radiographs to determine the presence of tooth root abscesses, root resorption, bone degenerations, root fragments, fractures extending from the tooth crown and many other causes for concern.

Will my pet require any medications?

Injectable medication, such as antibiotics and pain control, may be administered during a procedure and additional medications may be sent home with your pet. Our goal is to keep your pet healthy and pain free and our medication recommendations will be based on each pet’s particular issue, we will use whichever drugs best meet their needs.

Please inform us if your pet has any allergies or aversions to specific medications.  Please be specific and accurate when completing the patient questionnaire.

Can I be there during my pet’s procedure?

We understand your love of your pet.  We are pet owners ourselves.  We maintain a clean surgical environment and our doctors and technicians make it their goal to reduce risk of infection and stress upon your pet and on you.  Our operating area is closed to non-staff members.  We cannot allow pet owners or guardians to be in the operating area.

When can I pick up my pet?

The time of your consultation will not dictate what time your pet’s procedure is to be performed.  All of our patients are triaged after the consultations are completed. While we make every effort possible to accommodate your schedule, every case is different and each patient will be receiving care based on their individual needs; therefore it is not possible to know in advance at what time your pet will be ready to go home.  The doctor will call you after the procedure is finished and let you know when your pet will be ready to be picked up.  Most pets go home between 3pm and 6pm.  If you are curious and would like a better time frame for pick up, you can call the office after 12pm and we will do our best to let you know our estimated time for pick up.

I’m worried. When will you call me about my pet’s treatment?

Once your pet’s procedure is complete and they are recovering from anaesthetic the veterinarian will call you with an update and suggest a time for you to pick up your pet. Depending on the procedure performed, your pet may go home with pain preventative and antibiotics. Along with the medication to go home, we will provide you with printed discharge instructions outlining any specific instructions for your pet (i.e. feeding, activity, etc.) and a summary of the treatment they have received. We may recommend a post-operative reassessment within 7-10 days of the procedure, which may be done at no charge with us or with your regular veterinarian if that is more convenient for you. Please inquire with your regular veterinarian if there will be a fee for the recheck.

The veterinarian responsible for your pet’s care at West Coast Veterinary Dental Services will create a detailed report of your pet’s assessment and the procedure performed, which will be forwarded to your referring veterinarian.

When can I feed my pet after the consultation and/or treatment?

Once your pet has sufficiently recovered from the anaesthetic we will offer them a small quantity of soft food. While we try to offer food that is unlikely to cause gastrointestinal upset, please inform us of any dietary restrictions or allergies your pet may have on the Patient Questionnaire.  We will provide you with discharge instructions specific to your pet.  These instructions will outline what you may feed your pet and any medication instructions.

What is involved in a professional dental cleaning?

Every day plaque is deposited on the teeth. If they are not brushed, the bacteria cause inflammation that result in bad breath (halitosis), loss of support, formation of pockets, root exposures and ultimately, loss of teeth. Plaque transforms into calculus or tartar. This is a brown, mineralized deposit, easily seen on the surface of the crowns. Even good, daily brushing will not completely prevent formation of calculus. Metal dental instruments are required to remove it. This is where a professional cleaning becomes necessary. First, the teeth are probed and inspected. Then tartar and plaque are removed using scalers and curettes. Often an ultrasonic unit is used to facilitate and speed up the process. The teeth are then polished with pumice and rinsed.

Why does my pet need to be anaesthetized for the professional cleaning?

Dentistry means dental procedures that affect the oral health of an animal and can only legally be performed by a veterinarian. Removing the tartar visible on the crowns is not nearly enough. Periodontal disease is always infectious and is most severe under the gums. To reach these areas safely, the patient must be placed under general anesthesia. Removing tartar on an animal that is awake provides only cosmetic improvement. It does absolutely nothing to improve the health of the patient and should not be called dentistry.

Are professional cleanings enough to maintain oral health in animals?

The answer is the same as with people. No! Periodontal disease never stops. Plaque is continuously deposited and the only way to control it is to brush at least twice a day. The same is true for our pets. Because plaque deposits in a matter of hours, periodontal disease control has to be done at home with a soft tooth brush and veterinarian approved animal appropriate tooth paste.

How often should a pet undergo a professional cleaning?

There are individual variations, but once again the answer is similar to what is done on the human side.  If we are trying to control periodontal disease, your pet should have a dental exam every 6 months.  These visits will help us determine the frequency of the COHAT visits but some pets may need annual cleanings.

How much does a professional dental cleaning cost?

This is the most frequently asked question and while it is an important one, even more important is what does the cost include? To perform a thorough COHAT (Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment) the pet needs to be anaesthetized.  We have all pets placed on IV fluids for safety and so that pain control medications and antibiotics may be administered during the procedure.  A Registered Technician is dedicated to each doctor to monitor your pet while it is anesthetized.  The price for a COHAT can range depending on each patients particular needs.  Once we have consulted with you and your pet we will make an estimate of costs for you before going ahead with the procedure.   Radiographs, extractions, endodontic treatments etc will be at an additional cost.

What is the difference between a professional cleaning and the “non-anesthetic dentistry” that is advertised.

Non-anaesthesia “dentistry” is performed without drugs or medications because only a licensed veterinarian is permitted to administer medications to an animal.  The people performing these non-anesthetic cleanings are not required to have any particular training either in the veterinary field or in dentistry.  When performing a professional cleaning, because the patient is anesthetized, we are able to probe and explore below the gum line looking for the source of periodontal disease which is not obvious within the mouth.  We are also able to take radiographs that allow us to see the condition of the tooth roots and the structure and stability of the jaw.  Non-anesthetic “dentistry” is considered cosmetic and is often misleading to the client as the teeth look clean but may still have underlying disease.  Non-anesthetic dental cleanings are illegal in several Provinces and States.

What is a Resorptive Lesion?

Resorptive Lesions causes the loss of the tooth roots and erosion (i.e. “pitting”) defects in the crowns. These defects result in broken, painful teeth. The lesions can initially develop inside the roots with minimal visible crown damage. Because there may be little to see, dental radiographs are essential to diagnose this condition correctly.

What are some other conditions my pet may suffer from?

Foreign bodies (e.g. pieces of wood) stuck between teeth or within the gingiva causing infection and or tooth displacement, malocclusions (the teeth do not meet properly), fractured jaws and, unfortunately, various types of cancer. Rodents and rabbits may have malocclusions that require regular teeth trimming and spur removal.  Occasionally the salivary glands, muscles and joints of the head or the lymph nodes may be abnormal.  Nasal disease may be secondary to an oral or dental problem.