Many things about dentistry for dogs and cats are similar or identical to dentistry for people. The biggest difference between the two disciplines is in the most basic, important procedure, the dental examination.
It is rare that general anesthesia is required for a dentist to perform a complete, thorough exam on a person. General anesthesia is ALWAYS necessary for a veterinarian to complete a thorough dental exam on a dog or cat. It does not matter how cooperative the veterinary patient is; they MUST BE ASLEEP.
This is not to say that the awake exam is useless - far from it. In fact, the awake exam is essential. We want to learn everything we can about the overall health status of our patients. Without the awake exam, everything we find on the anesthetized exam will be a surprise. With the awake exam we minimize the surprises, and we can provide our clients with at least a general idea of the amount of dental care that will be needed.
The necessity of the anesthetized dental exam for dogs and cats means that it is impossible to provide an accurate estimate for dental procedures prior to anesthetizing our patients. At YVC we resolve this dilemma by having our clients choose one of three simple options prior to their pet's procedure.