Dental procedures are commonly performed at most veterinary clinics. It can be easy to forget that patients undergoing these
procedures are often major anesthetic risks. Geriatric patients frequently require the most dental work, and extractions are
time-consuming. Patients may be anesthetized for hours, and spraying cold water into their mouths for this extended period
greatly reduces their body temperature. In addition, most geriatric patients lack muscle mass and fat, so they lose heat even
more quickly. Complications associated with hypothermia include prolonged anesthetic recovery, increased oxygen demand from
shivering, cardiac changes, and coagulation deficiencies. Dental patients should have a thorough preanesthetic workup and
proper perioperative support with fluids and supplemental heat, and they should be monitored closely during recovery with
temperature checks and heat applied as needed.
And keep in mind that just because the patient makes it through the procedure does not mean its care is over and the potential
for complications has passed. All patients that have undergone anesthesia require postoperative monitoring of vitals, supportive
care, and pain management as needed.