I Don’t Brush My Dog’s Teeth. I Did This Instead.

Anesthesia-free teeth cleaningDisclaimer: 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.

See Also:

How Much Does It Cost to Get’s Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned in Seattle

One Way To Clean Your Dog’s Teeth Without Brushing


  1. says

    Thanks for admitting that you don’t brush your dogs’ teeth, because I don’t either, and always feel guilty about it! With four dogs it’s all I can do to keep up with the grooming, nail clipping, and ear cleaning. Our beagle Kobi has the worst teeth because he has an overbite. This dog who will eat anything hated all 5 toothpastes I tried on him. So we get them cleaned yearly under anesthesia. But since he is getting older (12) that concerns me more. I didn’t know that cleaning without anesthesia was even an option. I will have to see if I can find someone in our area that does it. Thanks for sharing this great info!
    Jan K recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Waiting 2My Profile

    • Jessica Rhae says

      I feel so much peer pressure I usually feel like I can’t admit I don’t brush their teeth without getting rotten tomatoes thrown at me or worst. I think that being aware clean teeth is important and taking care of it however works best for you is what is important. The whole anesthesia thing does worry me a bit too with older dogs or ones with health problems.

    • Cara fanella says

      Does it hurt the dog? I have a 11 pound maltese. .And b for health reasons hhe can’t be put under..
      thank you

      • Jessica Rhae says

        It shouldn’t if it is done right (ie. by a qualified veterinarian or dog dental specialist). The down side is that they can’t get as far under the gums as they can with cleaning under anesthesia because that WOULD hurt. But if the teeth aren’t bad, or your dog can’t be under anesthesia, then this can be a great alternative.
        Jessica Rhae recently posted…Dog Subscription Gift Box Review: PawPals With AnnieMy Profile

        • Debbie says

          I took my 5 year old malamute in to get his teeth cleaned. My vet uses anesthia. My dog had a reaction to the anesthia and started seizing. I almost lost my dog. I wound up in the emergency room with a possible hole in his trachiA seizures and dejydrTion. My dog is never allowed to b put under anesthia again unless a specialist does it. I am not sure what to do in the future as I kno I need to keep the plaque build up under control and u can not do this with brushing. Any suggestions would. Greatly appreciTee. Debbieddavis@comcast.net

          • Jessica Rhae says

            I am sorry to hear about your experience Debbie. That’s sounds scary and frustrating.

            My suggested would be the one in this post – to try anesthesia free dental cleaning if it’s available in your area. While it is true that it is not at thorough as cleaning under anesthesia (it is painful to get that far under the gums without it), it’s a really good option for people who can’t or won’t put their dog under anesthesia.

            I’ll shoot you an email though

          • says

            Hi, I have a similar situation with one of ours dogs. We adopted him about 6 months ago when he was 4 years old; he was once close to death after a surgical procedure and we are afraid to ever put him under anesthesia if he doesn’t have to be. He has nice teeth but had lots of brown tartar buildup on his canine teeth. After looking for safe options, but feeling skeptical that a dog treat could really be that effective, I found the Milk Bone Brushing Chews, that claim to be more effective than brushing. For the last 2 weeks I have been giving him, and my other two dogs, just one daily, and I canNOT even believe how much tartar they have removed from my dogs’ teeth! The formerly brown canines are almost completely clean!! Even my oldest dog, who will be 12 in May, has noticeably cleaner teeth To me it’s amazing how something so easy can be so effective! They have truly been a blessing. Good luck, I can certainly relate!

  2. says

    I’ve always been curious about the anesthesia free teeth cleanings. I’ve performed tons of dental cleanings under anesthesia. I’d say they did a pretty good job! Dachsunds always seemed more prone to building up tartar. That’s a huge price tag. I worked for a very expensive clinic and our prices weren’t even that high… more like $200-$300 bucks I’d say. Sometimes a little less. Oh yea… I don’t really brush my dog’s teeth either lol…
    Ann Paws recently posted…Get Your Paws on Tasty KONG Treats – A Review and Giveaway!My Profile

    • Jessica Rhae says

      $500 IS a lot but is the going average (among the 4 vets I have contacted) in Seattle….for the minimum! If your dog needs deep cleaning or extractions it could be closer to $1,000. I am going to keep looking for more of a “bargain” though. I know Gretel will probably need a cleaning under anesthesia in the next few years.

    • Darlene howell says

      Would you please let me know which vet she found in seattle that did the non anesthesia cleaning?
      Admitting to not brushing my dogs teeth too!

      • Jessica Rhae says

        I don’t remember the name of the vet but he visits All the Best Pet Care to do the anesthesia free cleaning. The link to the information is in the post. I think the web page it links to has the vets’ name.
        Jessica Rhae recently posted…Adventure Road Trip Vegas 2014My Profile

    • april says

      Ok I am going to sound like a twit but dont bones and things like that keep the teeth clean . I have two dogs and if i notice something on their teeth I scrap it off soemtimes it is harder then others and my guys are not too happy but it works .
      I thank you all for great advice.

      • Jessica Rhae says

        Hi April. Yes, bones help to keep a dog’s teeth cleaned…IF your dog will chew on bones. My dogs won’t. Or rather they will chew on the thinner ones but they break off chunks and swallow them (which I am not comfortable with). They aren’t interested in the big ones. A lot of the difference between dogs with clean and dirty teeth is genetics. Sounds like you and your pups got lucky. I got lucky with Chester but not so lucky with Gretel. Most dogs will need a real dental cleaning done at least once in their lives. For dogs not showing signs of gum disease, anesthesia-free cleaning can be an option. Some dogs will need x-rays and must be put under anesthesia for that.
        Jessica Rhae recently posted…A Dachshund Valentine’s Day PartyMy Profile

  3. Mindy says

    I do the anesthesia free dental cleanings on my 3 weenies. I love it! The less I have to put them under anesthesia the better in my opinion…. They seem to like it – no problems. I really like that the “dentists” will also stop (& not charge for what they’ve done) and let you know if they need to go in for a “regular” cleaning as well.

    • Wendy says

      Thanks for the info – I have a chiweenie (chihuahua/dachsund) and I do brush his teeth every day but he still has really bad teeth and requires a full dentistry every year. It’s not the money I care about, it’s him going under anesthesia. Sometimes he has to have extractions, but right now I think it’s just a really good cleaning is due. How does this other cleaning work? Do they somehow bind them so they don’t struggle? Isn’t that stressful for them? Please advise!

      • Jessica Rhae says

        Sorry to hear about your pups teeth. I am convinced that, like with people, some dogs just have good genes and fewer teeth problems. I would be concerned about putting my dogs under anesthesia once a year too.

        During the anesthesia teeth cleaning I was not allowed to watch them do it. The vet said that the dog does not relax enough with it’s Mamma there to perform a good, safe cleaning. However, based on photos and the description I was given, The vet holds a small dog between their legs so they can’t move their body (I think the dog is sitting on a box or something) and holds their jaw in their hands. He said they usually struggle for a few seconds but then relax and he is able to perform the cleaning.

        The vet was very clear that this cleaning is not as thorough as a cleaning under anesthesia. He can’t get deep under the gum line and there are no X-rays. Its IS a great alternative for dogs that have relatively healthy teeth and just need some of the tartar knocked off to help prevent tooth problems in the future.
        Jessica Rhae recently posted…Is Your Dog an Adventurer? There’s a Twitter Chat for ThatMy Profile

  4. says

    Interesting! I’ve often been curious about this too. Now that Bella is older, I’m even more hesitant to put her under for anything. I may have to ask my vet about this one.

    Oh, and another trick my vet gave me (as my two also hate having their teeth brushed) is to use CET Hextra Dental Chews… the dogs LOVE them and apparently they help reduce plaque. It’s not as good as brushing, of course, but it seems to help!
    Pup Fan recently posted…Tell me: what does your dog know about you?My Profile

  5. Melissa Rogers says

    I love that you admitted you don’t brush your dogs teeth….I don’t also. We have a 13 year old mini doxie and she has never had anything done to her teeth…..I know baaaaddd doxie momma, we just thought giving her rawhide bones treated to clean teeth and milk bones would be ok AND we just can’t afford the cost. Now said 13 yr old is on Lasix and the vet wants me to bring her in for a cleaning. 1. We are down to 1 income coming in. (I am currently unemployed) 2. She is 13! is putting her under really a good idea? I feel terrible they have gotten bad but what else can I do? I am proud to say she gets her Lasix daily even if I forget my own meds sometimes. Any other affordable options????

    • says

      I was the same as you, and had to have my 13 year old dachshund go in for a teeth cleaning this past January. Honestly, it depends on the dog. My vet did a lot of tests (bloodwork, urinalysis, chest x-rays) before deciding that he was healthy enough to go under anesthesia. He had the procedure done and everything went without a hitch, although he was a little groggy that night. I do brush both of my doxies teeth now, but it seems to me that bones do more to reduce tartar than anything.

      If cost is a concern, the Banfield pet plans (the vet clinic in Petsmart) make it pretty affordable, but, as with most chain stores, it can be hit or miss depending on your area.

      Good luck!

      • Jessica Rhae says

        Cost is a consideration for me but not a deterrent in any way. I would totally spring for the cleaning if they needed it. I am not overly worried about the anesthesia because I know that many of these procedures are performed daily without comp0lications. It’s just a “concern” of mine to do it “unnecessarily” if the vet hasn’t told me it is necessary. I am thinking of doing it just so I can get x-rays and be sure though.
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        • says

          Sorry, Jessica, I posted that in response to Melissa’s post. It probably would’ve helped if I addressed the post towars her, huh? I think it’s great you were able to do it anesthesia free, and I’m definetely impressed with the results! It probably helps to have such a sweet and gentle patient too though 😉
          Erin recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Recall!My Profile

            • Ang says

              I bought TropiClean Fresh Breath Clean Teeth Gel for my dachshund. My precious cocker spaniel would actually show me his teeth when I got out the toothbrush, the dachshund…nah. I rub the gel along his teeth and let him lick a drop, too. If I use it regularly, his teeth do look cleaner.

  6. says

    I’m concerned with health issues with any kind of heavy cleaning without antibiotics to keep the bacteria out of the bloodstream. Any comments or guidance on this?

    I think locally (northern California) a vet is required by law to at least oversee even any cleanings without anesthesia for this reason.
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  7. says

    We think those results are pretty pawsome. Our mom bought the toothpaste & brush about 3 months ago…she still hasn’t actually gotten around to using them on us though.
    Wally & Sammy

  8. cathy says

    I clean my guys teeth every year. My vets says the teeth problem is mostly a small dog problem but was interested in your grain free comment, my doxie is on gluten-free grain-free because I thought that was best.

  9. says

    That’s so funny….”sock dental floss”
    Yes, that is deifnitely a hot topic that people feel very strongly about.

    I try and brush Sienna’s teeth about once a week but there are weeks that get missed. I also rub a little coconut oil on her gums because it kills bacteria (I heard) and is good for inflammation. Plus she loves the taste. There is no way I am putting Sienna under anaesthesia to get her teeth cleaned so I’ll be curious to hear how it goes with Gretel. I have heard the results are no where near as good as with a cleaning under anasethesia but Chester’s teeth sure do look good.

    The other thing I have noticed confirming what they said- I brought Sienna in recently for a nail clipping and I held her while they tried to clip her nails and she went ballistic. I have never seen her like that…she almost but me and them. They suggested bringing her into a room out of my site and it was like Jekyll and Hyde,. She turned into the sweetest, calmest doggie. Lesson learned. I was transferring my anxiety to her.

  10. says

    That is very interesting, thanks for sharing. I have noticed more tartar on my dog’s teeth lately and we have switched to grain free food in the last 6 months. I have started brushing their teeth every night . . . . we will see how long this lasts!
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  11. Bruce Sherman says

    We have had similar paths and issues. We’ve done the $500 vet cleanings, and have tried the same pet store teeth cleaner. We were pleased with the pet store cleaning, but our vet was horrified that we did it say that the dog could be harmed by infections, slipped tools and other horrors. We have heard of cheaper vets, and think about trying them too.
    However, more recently, we have gone back to tooth brushing. If I’m correct, the current toothpaste for dogs has an enzymatic action. Much of the work gets done by the enzymes, and not as much by the brushing. So, I disciplined myself to start using it regularly. We are now on our 2nd tube of paste. The first one was “meat” flavor, and the current one is anchovy or something like that.
    Our dogs are now lining up to get their teeth brushed because they love the flavor. The fingertip brush takes a few seconds, where I do one side and then the other. Then, they line up to lick the past off the brush.
    When I brush them regularly, I notice that their breath odor is much improved. I think the tartar is going down as well, but that’s not as easy to tell.
    Every dog is different, but ours (3 of them) sure like the paste and don’t mind me lifting their lips to brush briefly on one side, and then the other.

    • Natural Pet Dental says

      Anesthesia Free Teeth Cleaning – Began in California and was developed over 35 years ago by Cindy Collins. She is the foremost expert in this field. However, the California state board shut her down about 2 years ago. They also said that animals were being hurt but could not provide any prof of this happening. There is a lot of information regarding her and her fight to keep AFTC legal without a vet in attendance. She and her company had cleaned millions of dogs and cats teeth.

      • Jessica Rhae says

        Thanks for the information. A veterinarian performs our anesthesia free teeth cleaning but I know of places where a vet doesn’t. I don’t necessarily disagree with that. Technicians can do a wonderful job. I do think the people should have SOME KIND of formal training though. I will look into this.
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  12. Sue at Talking Dogs says

    Looks like excellent results! I admire your public confession :-) We use dental chews and I try to brush our pack’s teeth once a week. Jeffie and Rudy hate it. So far Rosie doesn’t mind. At Jeffie’s vet checkup last month, our vet was surprised his teeth looked so good, so I think we’re doing okay.
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  13. says

    Gosh I just had Thunder’s teeth cleaned and a bit of gum over growth removed so he had to have anesthesia. I didn’t pay anywhere near $500. His teeth were actually in good shape and this was his first cleaning. Now that he is 7 he got that bit of gum over growth and I wanted the vet to look under and make sure it wasn’t something bad (like a tumor). It wasn’t, just old age starting…lol.
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  14. says

    That’s amazing! Mom brushes my teeth every day, but I still turn up looking like the Before picture. I wish there was a no-sleep-tooth-cleaner-guy around here!

    Love and licks,
    Genevieve recently posted…SharingMy Profile

  15. says

    Woof! Woof! My mom hardly brushed my teeth too. Definitely the high protein diet. I had that issues. I switched to grain free due to my allergies which helps a lot with my teeth too. DIET according to our vet is very important to maintain good teeth. Dental chews does not work for me (as it gives me digestive problems).
    WOW! what a great result. Golden Thanks for sharing. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
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  16. says

    I did this method with Sampson and posted about and was told by the vet techs that despite my having the plaque scraped off, it was important for him to be put out and have a good review of his teeth because sometimes there is underlying issues with their gums.

    It is costly in CT too, I was told about $700 and that’s if no teeth need to be pulled. I had a friend who had it done and it cost her about $1,200. I’m also leery about putting him under but will discuss it with my vet on Thursday as that is when Delilah is scheduled for her yearly.

    I’m glad it worked out okay for you, his teeth look gorgeous!
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  17. cyndiann says

    My dogs are raw fed and never need this. If they have dirty teeth you are feeding a food that is inappropriate for them. Just another of many reasons to feed raw. Your dogs are just healthier and don’t need heart worm “preventatives” which are dangerous and not effective. They get stomach worms much less too. You say it costs too much? Consider the vet bills I don’t have. Zero!

  18. Leigh says

    I have conditioned my dogs over the years to calm down and let me do it myself. They don’t like it but they lie there and let me do it. My Blue Heeler hates it but lets me brush and de-plaque with a dental pick every few months. Far better than having any type of vet do it. He calms if I place his head gently between my legs and he’s on his back. But I have been doing it since he was very little. He is a larger dog, and less likely (like a Daschound) to bite me. I just did it today, another success, and saved $150-500 dollars. And my old 12 yr old dog from dying in anesthesia.

    • Jessica Rhae says

      Thanks for the info. I heard you can get a dental pick and do it yourself but never talked to anyone who has done it. My Dachshunds don’t bite and tolerate me clipping their nails (even if I accidentally cut the quick) so it might be an option for me. They don’t like me messing with their mouth though so maybe not…..just have to try sometime I guess.
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    • jessica says

      I’m sure you do a far better job than any vet could do. You scrape off the tartar every few months and I’m sure the crowns of the teeth look real pretty while the true problem (what is under the gumline) is completely and ignorantly ignored for years. Then you eventually realize the problem and you bring him to your vet who puts him under anesthesia and takes dental xrays and you see what that infection under the gumline has done and finally realize how truly ignorant you are. You are not saving your dog from dying under anesthesia. You are committing him to a lIfetime of unseen pain and suffering.

      • Jessica Rhae says

        I don’t appreciate your sarcasm as you might have cleverly hoped that I would. As I stated, I am not adverse to having my dog’s teeth cleaned under anesthesia. IF my vet recommended it, I would have it done as soon as they could schedule us. My vet HAS NOT recommended cleaning to us (I ask every time I go in…several times a year). Some people brush their dog’s teeth in hopes of maintaining dental and gum health. I don’t brush my dog’s teeth but instead have them cleaned anesthesia-free periodically. My preventative measures may be different but are no more or less effective than brushing. Anesthesia free-cleaning is not something I did in order to escape my real responsibility of caring for my dog’s health. If you read my blog before insulting me, you would have seen that I am a VERY studious dog parent and would have understood that this is not something I did to avoid a proper dental cleaning all together.
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      • lyn says

        Could you possibly get your ideas across without such sarcasm and meanness? Would you have spoken in this manner to this lady as you posted via computer to her? Don’t you think that world needs more kindness and understanding, rather than sarcasm? Each of us contributes by our words to the general peace in this world, incident by incident and word by word.

        • Jessica Rhae says

          Hi Lyn. Thank you for reading my blog comments! Not everyone takes the time to do that.

          I assume your “meanness” statement was aimed at the original comment by “Jessica” and not me (whose name is also Jessica…confusing huh?). Mean and insulting comments used to really hurt my feelings but then I had to remember that someone that feels ok with insulting random strangers online has some anger inside of them (so it has nothing to do with me) or they had a bad experience and don’t have the skills to communicate that in a way that ads to the conversation and educates people. I try to consider these things when I respond and try to do so in a fair way.

          “Each of us contributes by our words to the general peace in this world, incident by incident and word by word.” —> I couldn’t agree with you more! You sound like a very wonderful person.
          Jessica Rhae recently posted…A Great #PawNatural Raw Dog Food for AdventuringMy Profile

          • Melissa S says

            Jessica’s comment might have been ‘mean’ but she was probably upset with the suffering-promotion that this blog entry is. White teeth are not, and cannot be any indication of the health of the dog’s gumline. If your vet thinks otherwise, you should get a new one. There are bad vets out there. The facts are that white teeth are not evidence that the underlying tissue is healthy. There is no arguing around this, unless you can present a peer-reviewed study to the contrary. I’m afraid that people who offer anesthesia-free cleanings are just money-grubbing opportunists who prey on those who are afraid and/or not made of money for what their dogs need. I sympathize, but pretending the anesthesia-free procedure is equivalent to even brushing is not the solution.

  19. KatByrd says

    I went the grain free food direction also, I haven’t noticed a differencenin their teeth (I have a Golden and a Doxy). I have noticed a ton more energy, less skin issues. I clean their teeth once a month…some times are better than others. I give them hard dog chews and bones to chomp on….seems to be working.

  20. Peter says

    If you were aware of the composition of “grain free: dog foods, you wouldn’t have been surprised when changing to one impacted your dog’s teeth negatively.

    Process corn and wheat have gotten an unfair bad rap. The forms in which they are normally used are intended to provide not nutrition, but bulk in the form of fiber.

    What most of the GF foods substitute for processed corn and wheat is brewers rice – “a processed rice product that is missing many of the nutrients contained in whole ground rice and brown rice thus reducing the quality.

    Brewers rice and second heads are one of the many byproducts that rice milling creates. Second heads are milled rice kernels that are one half to three quarters of the original kernel. Brewers rice is a milled rice kernel that is one quarter to half the size of a full kernel. Second heads, depending on their quality are used to make rice flour. “If the quality of the second heads are poor, they will be sold for pet food or dairy feed. Brewers rice is sold for pet food and dairy feed exclusively.” – wikipedia article

    When milled rice is used instead of corn or wheat, it is lacking in fiber and high in carbohydrates that are easily digestible by the bacteria found in a normal dog’s saliva. Those bacteria are what produces tartar.

    Another misconception about dog food is the use of animal byproducts. That intestines and organ meats are not on the average American table is because of conditioning, not nutrition. The two largest pet food companies test their products for adequate nutrition not just by lab analysis, but with dogs on controlled diets over their entire lifetimes. When independent research indicates that a supplement or vitamin is beneficial for improving or maintaining dogs’ health, it is tested on dogs, then incorporated.

    In the US no major manufacturer of dog food uses any meat source that isn’t eaten by humans somewhere in the world. Many pet food labels don’t manufacture what they sell; they have their food made for them by one of a very few processor, who blend stock ingredients, and/or stock kibbles, add dyes, mold it into pellets and deliver it in bulk. That’s why recalls are often multi-label across several pet food company’s products.

    As far as your dog is concerned, unless it has a specific allergy, fat is fat, carbs are carbs, and protein is protein, Protein is protein, whatever organ it comes from. If the source, or more likely the manufacturing facility, becomes contaminated, the entire manufacturing chain from that point onward becomes contaminated, requiring not only recalls, but plant shutdowns and inspections.

    • Jessica Rhae says

      Thanks for the insight. I am confused though because the gain-free kibble I feed Chester and Gretel doesn’t have any brewers rice or milled rice.

      Theses are the ingredients: Deboned lamb, lamb meal, duck meal, whitefish meal, whole peas, red lentils, field beans, whole potato, deboned duck, whole eggs, deboned walleye, duck fat, herring oil, lamb liver, herring meal, sun-cured alfalfa, pea fibre, whole apples, whole pears, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, spinach, cranberries, blueberries, kelp, chicory root, juniper berries, angelica root, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, lavender, rosemary.

      I don’t see what ingredient on this list would cause increased tartar on the teeth.
      Jessica Rhae recently posted…September Keeping Up With K9 Kamp Wrap-upMy Profile

      • Peter says

        The availability of carbs in the ingredients is the key factor. In human nutrition, relative availability of carbs is measured as the “glycemic index”

        When processed, whole peas, red lentils, field beans, and whole potato all have high glycemic indexes.

        Whole apples, whole pears, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, cranberries, blueberries as incorporated into dog kibble all have more readily available carbohydrates before processing than do corn and wheat after processing.

        If these ingredients were consumed as whole raw fruits and vegetables, they’d be better for a dog and a dog’s teeth. Most would still have a lot of readily available carbs in sugar form and simple starches, but all but the berries would have enough unprocessed fiber to help scour away plaque before it could calcify into tartar.

        Carrots, cranberries, blueberries and chicory root could stain plaque or tartar, making it look worse than it is.

  21. Larry says

    I’ve had many Dachshunds in the past that I didn’t do regular brushings. They had to go in for cleanings every year because of heavy buildup and terrible breath. Thank goodness my vet has been reasonably priced. The two minis I have now are brother and sister, like kids to me. Their toothbrushes and paste sit alongside mine. They seem to expect the ritual and cooperate with the process, almost like they look forward to it. It only takes a few minutes since we are so practiced and their teeth are white and breath fresh.

  22. says

    I will try anesthesia-free next time Quincy has his teeth cleaned. He just had them done a few days ago, and I knew he needed a couple removed, so we had to go with anesthesia this time. I’m not sure if Bentley would relax enough for anesthesia-free. Just clipping his toe nails is a 4 person job! I’d like to at least give it a shot though. I hate having them put under anesthesia.

  23. says

    You know that anesthesia free teeth cleaning is not recommended by vets because it doesn’t get the tartar under the gum line, right? When a dog gets his teeth cleaned under anesthesia they probe under the gums with a pick to see if there are any pockets which would show erosion happening under there. Understandably, it hurts a little and bleeds a little, and dogs don’t like to sit still for this.

    I started brushing my dogs teeth daily from when he was a puppy, but I started on my cat after 2 years and shes much less tolerant. There are other products you can use that are less invasive than teeth brushing. I usually use an oral rinse on the cat. She’s very strong for her size (seriously, we call her Schwarzenegger because she’s 5 pounds max and can open all manner of doors by brute force jiggling) and doesn’t like being picked up. But I can get the rinse in her mouth in 2 minutes flat. Stick her hind legs on the edge of the sink so she can’t get her balance, facing her away from myself I quickly lift her head and stick the syringe in her mouth on both sides — done.

    There’s also an additive you can add to their water that will do the same thing as the rinse which I hear can be very effective. The only thing is that you must check to see if they’re avoiding the water because they don’t like the taste. I prefer the syringe method so I can control how much they get, and because half the time the cat likes to drink out the sink.

    • Jessica Rhae says

      Yes, I am aware about the anesthesia-free tooth cleaning is not as thorough. I even stated so – “but it is not as thorough as a deep cleaning with anesthesia”. Thanks for making sure I knew though.

      While not recommended by vets as a substitute for teeth cleaning WITH anesthesia, if your dog’s teeth and gums are healthy (as I stated Chester’s are), there is no harm is getting it done. If you do not brush your dog’s teeth, I think it is a great alternative.

      I am glad you found a system that works for you. Starting to brush from when they are a puppy is probably the best way to go if you are going to brush them. I’ll never say never but I don’t see brushing my dog’s teeth in my future. I have a little system myself and have wrote about it in another post. I use a combination of Plaque Off, antlers, and coconut oil. I may also try the anesthesia-free teeth cleaning. When my vet DOES recommend the anesthesia, thorough teeth cleaning I will get that done too.

  24. says

    I had never heard that before about grain free causing tartar build up. Who knew?!? I have Brittanys and both what I consider heavier than normal tartar build up and we are getting ready to go in to have their teeth cleaned at the vet. I live in S. Florida and the average price is around $250 – $275 per dog. So glad to see a vet is doing the anesthesia free cleaning. We have a lot of “people” offering that service here that are NOT vets – it is around $40 – $50 and is often part of a dog/fun event…so kind of weird and not for me in this setting – I would consider it as a maintenance if it were done under veterinarian supervision though. I have the brushes, gels etc..my dogs really like them and tolerate the brushing…but I don’t think it really does anything in the long run. But they will lick all the doggie toothpaste you will give them!
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    • Jessica Rhae says

      Oh my. There is no way I would let anyone but a vet perform the anesthesia-free teeth cleaning. As you said, it is a good option as maintenance as long as you have a safe place to get it done.

      I don’t know that I can claim that the grain-free food CAUSED the tartar buildup. There was a suspicious connection to me but everyone I talked to (vets as well as other people who feed grain-free) said it is not supposed to. Perhaps it was a fluke for us.
      Jessica Rhae recently posted…Favorite Winter 2013 Clothes for Dog WalkingMy Profile

  25. Nicole says

    I`ve been trying to brush our dogs teeth every other day or so. We have 5 rescues, 2 of which have horrible teeth. What does help is a scaler, which can be bought online for as little as 2$, if I see a big chunk of plaque I just get my husband to help me hold them down and gently remove it. They don`t really like the teeth brushing, but I`ve seen some results. Though I have heard feeding uncooked chicken bones to them fresh can help. Never tried it though

  26. Rlangdon says

    Some raw diets include raw bones, if you can keep them bacteria free, but cooked bones can splinter and break a dog’s teeth or get caught in a dog’s intestines.

    My two senior dachshunds used to hate toothbrushing but I just switched to C.E.T. enzymatic toothpaste. It comes in a smelly fish flavor that my dogs love (also poultry and mint.) Honestly, they line up for it like it’s a treat. The brushing is just the price they have to pay to get it. I’m hoping it will cut down on expensive vet cleaning and extraction bills.

  27. says

    We cannot brush Lola’s teeth. She sees that tub of paste, the toothbrush, or the finger brush and it’s like she runs….But if I’m just sitting there I can lift up her cheeks, check out her teeth all day – ugh. She is only 1 1/2 right now so not much to worry about right now, but we’ll have to keep an eye on them in the future. Good thing she’s a chewer….
    We’ll have to wait and see with Rio (once his big teeth come in), he might be a better candidate for at-home brushing, lol.
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  28. says

    Ooo! I get my daily brushings and yet it still doesn’t do much. I’m not sure why that is the case though. It was fine for a while and now the plaque is building up. What tools do they use for the cleaning? My sapiens are interested in doing the cleaning themselves at home!
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…Top 7 (Sapien) Pet PeevesMy Profile

    • Jessica Rhae says

      They use a pick/scrapey thing like they use at the dentist to clean human teeth, I DO know people who have picked up one of those tools (I think you can get them at some drugstores) and scrape the tartar off their dog’s teeth themselves. Your dog has to be calm, and it is no substitute for dental cleaning by a vet, but it can help knock the plaque down.

  29. says

    Just be sure that the person doing the anesthetic-free dental knows what they are doing. Too many places aren’t run by vets, just laymen, and they just scale the visible stuff on the teeth – that brown stuff – and leave it at that. People go home happy thinking the problem is solved, but since dogs rarely get cavities, the brown stuff isn’t actually the problem. It’s the stuff under the gums which get into the bloodstream and cause heart disease and diabetes.

    A lot of anesthetic-free dental places don’t actually go under the gums because it’s painful and the dogs would freak out. Many of them also don’t polish after they have scraped off the tartar, which means that your pet’s teeth will have little grooves in them that plaque just LOVES to hide in. It’s clever – it makes your pet’s teeth worse, and guarantees that you’ll come back to them in 6 months or a year…
    Healing Paws recently posted…5 Things You Didn’t Know About Brushing Your Pet’s TeethMy Profile

    • Jessica Rhae says

      Good reminder. I know this service has gotten popular so less qualified people are popping up and promising a lot.

      Our anesthesia free teeth cleaning was done by a vet. Yes, it doesn’t get under the gums as well as with anesthesia but he knows the warning signs to look for which, although it doesn’t catch everything, gives you a pretty good indication of their dental health. Also, I am pretty sure he did not polish their teeth but it’s been over a year and their teeth are not as bad as when I took them in for the cleaning. They DO eat raw food mostly and get things to chew on though.
      Jessica Rhae recently posted…A Dachshund Valentine’s Day PartyMy Profile

      • says

        The raw food diet is probably the most important part. Our patients on raw diet tend to have way better teeth than your average kibble fed dog, although breed and brushing still makes a big difference. Obviously, a yorkie on raw still won’t have as good teeth as a pittie on kibble!
        Healing Paws recently posted…Is Kibble Better For Your Pet’s Teeth?My Profile

  30. Herb says

    Dogs are omnivores and getting a portion of their nutrition from grain is just fine. I am not willing to pay $50/bag for dog food. Anyway, no matter how fancy the breed, any dog would be happiest with a dead squirrel – no, I do not feed squirrels to my dogs, it’s just hyperbole.

    I have one 6 lb dog and one 120 lb dog. About 4 nights a week, we all sit down together and I use my finger to smear liver-flavored enzymatic toothpaste on the back teeth and at least the outside surfaces of the front teeth. The challenge is getting the paste on the teeth quickly before they lick it off my finger. Takes about 5 min for both dogs, including washing my hands afterward. Has worked like a charm and, at check up time, the vet always praises me and gives me a treat.

  31. says

    I need to look into this option though I’m a bit nervous because I wonder if my dog will go exorcist on the vet as well lol. I do brush my dogs teeth but it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, she eats the same food as my previous dog but she’s just a plaque magnet. Maybe I’m discouraged because I don’t see quick results with brushing.

    I would love the option of a dental cleaning without anesthesia, I just didn’t realize until now it was an option. Thanks for all the great info.
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  32. Petra says

    Soo…I do this on my Labrador Retriever myself. Don’t know if the “dentists” do something else…but based on them saying it’s a “good enough” job I’m inclined to think it’s similar.

    I just do the outsides of the teeth…she doesn’t let me do the insides…but I could see if you had something for them to bite on, then they’d be okay keeping their mouth open for you to reach in.

    I have her lie on her side on her dog bed w a pillow or something under her head, so she’s stable and comfortable and doesn’t feel vulnerable (vs flipped on her back between my legs).

    I use a basic (not sharp) dental pick and gently push her lips up w the rounded bit of my top knuckles so my fingernails don’t hit anything.

    Always gently, w small motions push on the plaque down and away from the gum line w the pick flat against the tooth. Controlled small motions so you don’t hit the point against the gum or lips (that makes them squirmy…just as I would be).

    Also, I never steady my hand across the bridge of her nose because I’ve heard that’s uncomfortable for them as makes them feel overly controlled/vulnerable too.

    And soft voice the whole time.

    She does like Pet Dental toothpaste…I always let her lick some off the brush at the start…and more try to time moving the brush in between letting her gnaw down on the brush…less tooth brushing and more toothbrush chewing…but it works.

    Good luck!

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