AVMA House of Delegates Backs New Dentistry, Declawing Policies

by Veterinary Practice News Editors | July 25, 2014 5:43 pm

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates today approved revised policies on veterinary dentistry and cat declawing and chose the organization’s 2015-16 president.

Meeting in Denver at the annual AVMA convention, the delegates followed the lead of the American Animal Hospital Association in advocating the use of anesthesia when dental procedures beyond an oral examination are performed.

AAHA in June 2013 passed a rule requiring member hospitals to anesthetize and intubate all dental patients under the group’s updated Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.

Kate Knudson, DVM, the past president of AAHA and an alternate delegate, urged the House to pass Resolution 6.

“The only way you can provide dental diagnostics and come up with a therapeutic plan is to do dental radiography,” Dr. Knudson said. “We have many, many, many studies … demonstrating how something that looks normal when you’re just looking at it with your eyes is abnormal once you take radiographs.

“The only way you can look your client in the eye and give them the confidence that you indeed are giving the best therapeutic and diagnostic plan is to take full-mouth X-rays,” she added. “As of this time the only way we can do that is with our patients asleep.”

Nancy Scanlan, DVM, who represents the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association in the House of Delegates, requested that the resolution be set aside pending a University of Pennsylvania study of hand scaling with and without anesthesia.

“Until the results of that study are available, I think it’s premature to recommend that hand scaling be done with anesthetic,” Dr. Scanlan said.

She also advised that veterinarians be given “leeway in being able to use our own judgment as to what to do when.”

The resolution, which passed with 73.7 percent of the vote, recommends that veterinarians perform oral examinations on all animals “at least yearly and discuss preventative measures to keep a patient’s mouth healthy.”

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“When procedures such as periodontal probing, intraoral radiography, dental scaling and dental extraction are justified by the oral examination, they should be performed under anesthesia,” the updated policy states.

Approved unanimously and without discussion was Resolution 4, which changes the policy on the declawing of domestic cats to strongly encourage client education about the “major surgery,” the risks and what constitutes normal scratching behavior.

An amendment to the policy declared that the decision to declaw a cat should be made by the owner “in consultation with the veterinarian.”

In other action, the House:

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