Disclaimer: A thorough dental cleaning under anesthesia, and brushing your dog’s teeth, is considered the gold standard by veterinarians for maintaining your pup’s oral health. I am not claiming that there is a direct replacement for that. However, some people don’t brush their dog’s teeth, or choose not to put their dogs under anesthesia (for health or personal reasons), so I wanted to share my experience with an alternate method that is better than doing nothing at all.
Yup, you read that right – I. Do. Not. Brush. My. Dog’s. Teeth. I won’t.
Yeah, I know that a build up of plaque and tartar can lead do gum disease, missing teeth, and illness. The thing is that I have a hard enough time committing to brushing my own teeth every day. Look, I love Chester and Gretel but I know myself good enough to know that it just isn’t going to happen.
Oh, I have bought a finger toothbrush and the yummy liver toothpaste before. That lasted about once. Chester hated it. I didn’t enjoy it much either and I didn’t have the time or patience to “get him used to it”.
I have bought sprays and gels with “active enzymes” but the struggle with prying open strong Doxie jaws while trying to shoot the stuff into their mouth always resulted with more goop on me than in them. Think Something About Mary crossed with the Exorcist.
I do pay attention to their teeth though. Chester and Gretel had a checkup of their teeth last year at the vet. The vet was amazed at how clean Chester’s teeth were. I chalk it up to all of the sock and underwear dental floss he uses
There WERE great…until I started feeding the dogs grain-free food. A year later they were horrible.
It didn’t make a lot of sense because I thought feeding grain-free was supposed to be better. The vet said Chester was just a “fluke” because that was not supposed to happen or blamed it on some kind of weird plaque-attracting mouth bacteria he must have mysteriously picked up. One of my Doxie friends said that a high protein diet will do that because the dog’s saliva reacts with the protein somehow and makes it stick to teeth. I don’t know but I made the commitment to getting their teeth cleaned if necessary in lieu of brushing.
I wanted to knock the problem down before it did cause a gum, tooth or health problem. Our vet does teeth cleaning. Sedating a dog with anesthesia is expensive so the minimum charge is $500. I didn’t like that price tag but was considering paying it anyway because that is the deal I made with myself for allowing tooth-maintenance laziness.
I had heard about “anesthesia-free” teeth cleaning. I heard that it did “good enough” but it is not as thorough as a deep cleaning with anesthesia. I did hear it was way cheaper – only $150.
I thought I would give it a shot since Chester had no existing tooth or gum problems and I just needed to get his teeth mostly clean. He was also a good candidate because he is a calm guy that loves people…even if they are poking him with sharp objects. All the Best Pet Care in Seattle has a dentist that visits once a month and performs this anesthesia-free dental cleaning so I made an appointment.
The vet said Chester did very well (I wasn’t allowed in the room with him because he might keep looking at me and not relax). When he came out of the back room he was all waggy tail and had mostly sparkling white teeth.
I was happy with the results. Here is the before and after so you can be the judge.
I was hesitant to get Gretel’s teeth cleaned this way. Her teeth are worse than Chester’s were though so she needs it. She is just so anxious I am afraid she would go all exorcist on him. I told the vet about her and he still thought he could do it. He said if she gets too stressed he will just stop and I don’t have to pay. We’re going to give it a try in a couple of weeks.
Anesthesia-free teeth cleaning was definitely cheaper than cleaning under anesthesia.