The following question appeared recently in the Vet Blog comments section:
I have a 9-year-old Poodle/Beagle mix named Scout. My vet has recommended dental work, but I am worried about putting him under because he suffers from seizures. He has a seizure about once every four to six months. Is it safe for him to go under for the procedure?
A history of seizures does not necessarily preclude anesthetic dental work.
Many of the medications that are administered in the course of anesthesia actually can be used to prevent or stop seizures. This is because anesthesia works by dampening brain activity, and seizures are a manifestation of excessive brain activity. Drugs such as diazepam (Valium), midazolam (Versed), and propofol are in this class.
Other anesthetic or preanesthetic drugs, most notably ketamine, but also (controversially) acepromazine, generally should be avoided in animals with a history of seizures. Also, the physiological stress of anesthetic procedures appears to trigger seizures in some individuals.
If your dog undergoes dental work, your vet should take care to use an appropriate protocol. Speak with your vet to confirm that the benefits outweigh the risks.
For the overwhelming majority of dogs and cats with dental disease, including those with histories of seizures, the benefits of dental work decisively outweigh the risks. It also may be advisable to perform it sooner rather than later since dental disease is a progressive problem. A short procedure now may forestall a more complex and lengthy one in the future.