Big cats, clean teeth thanks to veterinary anesthesiologists

Just like people, big cats need to maintain teeth health too. But keeping their teeth healthy is easier said than done. To ensure that dentists can safely clean and fix the animal’s teeth, an experienced anesthesiology team is essential.

Recently, the anesthesiologists at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center volunteered their services to help dentists care for the rescued large cats at The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone Minnesota.

Because the team is comprised of board certified veterinary anesthesiologists, the team was able to provide a safe environment for the dentists, staff and patients.

“This way the patient and staff are safe in every moment of the procedure,” said Caroline Baldo, D.V.M., Ph.D., anesthesiologist. “We constantly monitored the patient which offered a more controlled environment.”

The team helped care for a variety of big cats, including tigers, cougars, a black leopard and an African serval.

To prepare to anesthetize a large animal, a safety meeting is essential to make sure all tasks are allocated to the right people.

“We were dealing with non-domesticated cats,” Baldo said. “We really had to make sure that everyone was on the same page. Everyone had to know their duty so that the cat didn’t wake up or get away from its transport carrier.”

While the animal was being anesthetized, the anesthesiology staff ensured they were the only people in the space. Once the cat was asleep, the dental team entered the room and started their work.

“We offer security to other people and safety to the patient,” Baldo said. “The Wildcat Sanctuary did a wonderful job at explaining to all present the role of the anesthesia team. They were extremely organized. People felt safe.”

While the cat was under, the anesthesiology team monitored the cat to ensure it was properly anesthetized. Some of these signs included movement of the blinking reflex, a tense jaw tone and increased respiratory and heart rate.

Baldo hopes that her team will continue to volunteer at this annual event.

“It not only gave us an opportunity to promote our anesthesia department and provide our services to the community,” Baldo said. “It also allowed our residency students to have a hands on experience anesthetizing large cats and developing the skills and respect that only wild life can provide.”

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