Non-Anesthetic Dental Cleaning
for Dogs  

                                        

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Warning: Not all dogs are good subjects for non-anesthetic procedures -- particularly dogs with advanced dental disease that may require extractions and/or antibiotic treatment. A good practitioner should insist you see a vet first if your dog has advanced dental disease, and will then will help maintain your dog's dental health with a non-anesthetic method.

It is important to interview potential practitioners and to watch them perform a dental cleaning before trusting them with your dog. 

We think the best practitioners work in vets' offices where they can get antibiotics or emergency care for the dog if it is needed. 

Dental health is dependent on good nutrition.


Learn about our new nutrition audio recordings.

 

Note: Kibble does little or nothing to clean teeth! For this and many other reasons, we recommend against feeding kibble. 

 

Note: Most vets have little training in conventional teeth cleaning and know little or nothing about anesthesia-free cleaning. Unless the vet offers anesthesia-free service, he or she may have a conflict of interest advising against it. He or  she may also never have seen it performed in a gentle, thorough manner.

Guardian, beware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Info for the practitioners

The Dog Teeth Cleaning video below is an impromptu recording of recent anesthesia-free teeth cleaning of my eight-year-old dogs' teeth. This is not a recommendation of the practice in general, nor is it a condemnation of any particular practitioners.  We recorded the video for information purposes only. I do not profit in any way. Please read the additional information on this page for important safety tips.

In answer to a question we get a lot, yes, we see that one of Chiclet's front teeth is loose. I wiggled it once and it came out. She didn't even know it!

 

There are three groups of personnel that clean canine teeth:

One: veterinary dentists.  These are highly trained individuals with excellent x-ray equipment. Unfortunately, there are very few (if any) dental specialists in most towns, and the few who perform simple teeth cleanings generally charge a premium. Like your own dentist, they mostly do complicated specialty work.

Two: general veterinarians.  It is generally a vet tech, not a vet, who cleans teeth. Degrees of skill and training vary greatly. One veterinary dentist, and many general vets, have told me that the training is insufficient in vet schools and, thus, in many practices. As dental work becomes more profitable, interest in advanced training will hopefully increase. One advantages of cleaning by a skilled tech and vet is charting of the teeth, availability of antibiotics,  surgical cleaning of teeth with hard-to-reach plaque, emergency care, and the availability of x-rays, (which hopefully are digital). One disadvantage is that anesthesia can be dangerous and must be monitored by a skilled expert with the latest anesthesia, and proper size and type of anesthesia equipment (which is too often not the case).

Three: an "anesthesia-free" practitioner.  The dental cleaning skill level ranges from a "tooth-scraper" with little or no training, to former licensed dental hygienists for people. The animal handling skill, which is extremely important, also varies greatly. Facilities range from dark back rooms to vet offices. You are the only quality inspector.  

Make sure your anesthesia-free practitioner wears clean gloves, and cleans and sterilizes equipment between cleanings.

This video was produced to show that anesthesia-free dental can, and should, be performed on a relaxed, happy dog NOT bound or held down with force; their mouths should NOT be pried open with bite bars.  In additional to mere tooth surface scraping (scaling), polishing can, and should be, performed.  Ultrasonic cleaning should be used when appropriate by skilled practitioners only. If this doesn't describe your dog's experience with teeth cleaning, we suggest you find another practitioner.  

Note: plaque begins to form on teeth just 24 hours after cleaning, so get brushing!  And see your vet if you have concerns.
                    

 

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My dogs
met their practitioner Kathy  the first time only minutes before the cleaning began. Both had had non-anesthetic cleaning several times (with varying results). They had had non-anesthetic sonic cleaning and polishing only once before.

I was present the whole time, as was the narrator/camera person and my other dog. Both the practitioner and the narrator have nearly twenty years experience and clean teeth in veterinary clinics in ten states, coast to coast in the U.S.

We believe the quality and safety of this procedure is entirely dependent on the expertise and dog handling skills of the practitioner. 

Read more about non-anesthetic dental cleaning below.

Practitioners: Kathy Shafer performed the dental cleaning.  Dali Shafer narrated. Reach them at  Houndstooth Dental   Kathy's email: pettoothfairy@yahoo.com   Phone toll-free:  877-309-8849
 

"Talent" included Jiggy T. Dog, Chiclet T. Dog and Jan Rasmusen.

 

 

   CHICLET T. DOG’S VIEW OF NON-ANESTHETIC DENTAL CLEANING  (excerpted from Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care
by Jan Rasmusen and Chiclet T. Dog)
 

Y
ou probably want to know what I, as a consumer activist dog, think of non-anesthetic (aka anesthesia-free) dental cleaners.   

Well, first of all, these people need a catchier job description.  Second, some of these service providers are much better than others; they range from former dental hygienists certified to work on Humans, to people who are recently self-taught or with only a weekend’s worth of training. (To clean Human teeth, you go through. at least two years of training and a certification exam.)Have a preference for which group you’d want working on your teeth? The big thing to remember is that there’s no certification and no regulation in this business. The establishment providing this service may be doing it for the love of dogs ... or the love of money. Go where you trust the owners. Observe a cleaning or two and Interview the technician. Remember: you are the inspector--the only inspector. 

Before you put your dog’s mouth (and body) in their hands, make sure they screen for health problems, especially heart disease. Bacteria released during cleaning could cause serious medical problems in susceptible dogs unless they’re on antibiotics. 

Kathy (co-owner with her sister Dali of Houndstooth) insists that you watch her inspect your dog’s mouth before she begins so she can tell you what she sees. Maybe your dog needs a good cleaning under anesthesia and shouldn’t return to her for maintenance for a few months. 

Many practitioners won't  want you to observe, saying your dog will be too difficult to manage if he sees his Mom nearby. Kathy disagrees. “Don’t leave me alone with your dog,” she tells new clients. “You don’t know me. Don’t assume that I’m safe. Don’t trust me because you like me. I haven’t yet earned your trust.” 

Kathy has cleaned the teeth of 100-300 dogs per month for close to 20 years, has seen every conceivable behavior, and says she should have a technique to counter any dog’s response by now. So if you want to observe her, please observe her.

Before cleaning starts, ask for proof of liability insurance (for injury the cleaner causes and injury your dog causes). Dogs have been seriously injured, even died, having their teeth cleaned both by vets and others. With the latter, it’s mostly because of the way they were secured. Some establishments use bite bars, restraints, and mummy wraps; dogs are hurt struggling to get free. (Can you blame them?)  Some establishments relax your dog using a variety of products from flower essences (like Bach’s Rescue Remedy) to natural calming products. Kathy uses none, saying it’s all about attitude.

Kathy modified her instruments to make them safer when dogs wiggle.  After cleaning, she gives clients a full report and invites you to have your vet check your dog’s teeth after she cleans them. If she missed something, she’ll fix it for free.  We think you should expect no less.   

 


Tips:
  Do not feed for 2-3 hours before cleaning. Take your dog for a long, relaxing walk before the dental cleaning. This will help relax her. Consider a few drops of Bach's Rescue Remedy--available at health food stores and on-line--the first few times to help relax your dog.  See your vet, before and after treatment, if you have any doubts about your dog's condition.

 


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Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided for general information purposes. Any information provided is not veterinary advice and should not be substituted for a regular consultation with a veterinary professional. If you have any concerns about your dog's health, please contact your veterinarian's office immediately.

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