Pet owners are often hesitant to manage dental disease in their older pets if it involves a general anaesthetic – and rightly so. Anaesthetics pose a risk for all patients, and this risk certainly increases with age. If these concerns resonate with you, perhaps Merlin’s story will provide some comfort if you’re considering whether to have a dental performed on your elderly pet this dental month.

Merlin the Moggy is nearly 20 years old, that’s right – 20 years old! Back in January 2015 he was diagnosed with early kidney disease and diabetes. His condition has been successfully managed for the past five years due to his family’s unwavering commitment to regular check-ups, blood tests and daily insulin injections.


In early July Merlin paid us a visit to undergo his routine wellness exam and blood test. The physical examination revealed grade 4 dental disease. While his blood test results noted ongoing kidney abnormalities, Dr. Tracy was confident that a general anaesthetic to perform required dental treatment, if managed correctly, would be a safe plan moving forward.

A personalised anaesthetic management plan was prepared for Merlin. He was admitted to hospital 24 hours prior to his dental procedure for intravenous fluid therapy. IV fluids provide both support to the kidneys and help to maintain stable blood pressure. During his hospital stay Merlin’s blood glucose levels were closely monitored and his insulin administered twice daily.

Dental radiographs taken during the procedure revealed tooth resorption – a painful condition whereby the body begins breaking down and absorbing the structures of the tooth. The affected teeth were successfully removed, and all remaining teeth were given a good scale and polish!

Merlin recovered remarkably well from his anaesthetic and was hospitalised for a further 24 hours on intravenous fluids. We hear he is now comfortably spending his winter days on the heated floor of his family’s bathroom!