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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
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.
Note: Kibble does little or nothing
to clean teeth! For this and many other reasons, we recommend against
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
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
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
There are three
groups of personnel that clean canine teeth:
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
Like your own dentist, they mostly do complicated
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
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
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.
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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met their practitioner
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.
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.
T. Dog, Chiclet T. Dog and Jan Rasmusen.
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)
probably want to know what I, as a consumer activist dog,
think of non-anesthetic (aka anesthesia-free) dental
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
Remember: you are the inspector--the only inspector.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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