Dog Dental Cleaning Without Anesthesia – My Review
I’m willing to put my dog’s under anesthesia to clean their teeth and get x-rays if our vet thinks it’s necessary, but I would rather avoid it if possible.
While undergoing anesthesia is relatively low risk for most dogs, I have personally seen how it takes my dogs several days after to return to acting and feeling normal.
Plus, being put under anesthesia is riskier for senior dogs, and dogs with medical conditions like congestive heart failure.
I use an at-home teeth cleaning routine that doesn’t require a toothbrush and get dog teeth cleaning without anesthesia if the plaque starts to build up on my dog’s teeth.
UPDATED: originally published January 2016.
Since writing about anesthesia-free teeth cleaning, I’ve been berated and stalked (yes, stalked…. I can see your email address and see you work for a vet) repeatedly with comments about how anesthesia-free teeth cleaning is horrible and my dogs will die.
I disagree but but looked deeper into anesthesia free dog teeth cleaning to see if their claims were warranted.
Here is my review.
Note: to be clear, the goal of a non-anesthetic dental cleaning is to help prevent periodontal disease in a healthy dog, not treat it.
Anesthesia-free Teeth Cleaning – The Negative Claims
I am pretty sure I’ve heard every argument in the book about Professional Outpatient Preventive Dentistry (POPD) – the technical term for anesthesia-free canine dental cleaning.
If I haven’t, I am sure I will after people read this article.
Despite the very vocal detractors, I feel strongly that I have made the right choice for my dogs.
I admit I am not a vet and that these are personal opinions based on very thorough research done over a period of 2 years.
I have a background in science so I know how to ask probing questions, find in-depth information, and understand scientific reports.
I will admit that I lean towards natural and holistic medicine.
I am open to “experimental” procedures not accepted by the entire “medical” community as long as I feel knowledgeable about the situation and feel I have made the best choice for myself and my dogs.
Below are the arguments I’ve heard and what I have to say about them.
1) You’re just doing it to cut costs
I’ve done a lot research regarding what it costs to get a dog’s teeth cleaned. It can be really expensive.
Luckily, at my vet, cleaning under anesthesia starts at $300, which is relatively inexpensive.
In the 20 years I’ve owned Dachshunds, my vet has never said anything about there teeth except the occasional, “Eh. You could get a full teeth cleaning under anesthesia if you want.“
However dogs that constantly fight tartar buildup on their teeth may need a dental cleaning under anesthesia once a year.
So let’s say the cost of teeth cleaning would be $300 per year (reminder: this is a which is a very conservative number).
If a dog was to get anesthesia free teeth cleaning on a regular basis, the recommendation is to do it twice a year.
Where I get my no anesthesia dog teeth cleaning for my dogs, the cost is $160 per cleaning.
Therefore, the cost is relatively the same, or more, to get anesthesia-free teeth cleaning.
Besides, I do not make choices about my dog’s health based on cost alone so this argument is a moot point.
2) Anesthesia-free teeth cleaning is not as thorough as cleaning under anesthesia.
Logically, I agree with this.
It makes sense that the dentist can’t peel back the dog’s gums to scrape way up under the gum line unless they are under anesthesia.
Besides scraping under the gums being painful, the dog needs to be lying completely still to avoid injury while doing it.
However, that doesn’t mean that getting anesthesia-free cleaning is worthless.
Again, using logic, I don’t believe that removing the majority of plaque, and thus bacteria, on a dog’s teeth unhelpful.
In a 2016 article, Dr. Kate Knutson, the former President of the American Animal Hospital Association, after observing Animal Dental Care technicians clean and probe the teeth of alert pets, concluded:
“[anesthesia-free dental cleanings] are not a replacement for X-rays and oral surgery… but [the anesthesia free teeth cleaning she observed] … is going under the gum line and cleaning out plaque and tartar.” (source)
3) You can’t detect deeper dental issues without x-rays
Is letting a vet or technician judge the health of your dog’s teeth by look alone risky? Maybe.
However, while I agree that the only way to be 99.9% sure there are no dental issues is to have x-rays done under anesthesia, that’s not the only way to detect issues.
The certified dog dentist that cleans my dog’s teeth without anesthesia looks for any signs that there may be trouble under the surface like spots on the gums, bleeding, and a foul odor.
There is also a veterinarian that supervises the cleaning so this veterinarian can be consulted if the dog dentist discovers something suspect.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine concluded that, “… An oral examination in an awake dog can be a helpful screening tool…”
The study does state that a visual assessment of dental heath , “Should not be considered a comprehensive evaluation of periodontal health” but I already stated this truth.
You can’t know if there are any underlying problems with your dog’s teeth if they aren’t cleaned under anesthesia, but it’s likely that early signs of gum and teeth issues can be identified.
4) People performing anesthesia free teeth cleaning don’t know what they’re doing
People worry that those offering these services don’t know what they are doing and can injure your pet with their dental instruments.
This is true. Or was true when this service was only being offered as an ad-on service by pet groomers, unskilled technicians, or performed by people just looking to make a quick buck.
However, dog dental cleaning without anesthesia has come a long way in the last 10 years.
Now there are companies utilizing technicians specifically trained in this technique.
There are also companies with highly skilled hygienists offering anesthesia free cleaning within existing veterinary practices.
It is very important that this procedure be performed by:
- A veterinarian
- A trained technician who works under a veterinarian’s supervision
This is what distinguishes a Professional Out Patient Dental procedure (POPD) from the “cleaning” done by groomers, pet store employees, at boarding facilities, and during house calls.
There are growing number of general practitioners advocating for safe and thorough anesthesia-free cleanings done by discerning and skilled technicians (source)
5) Restraint techniques used during anesthesia-free cleanings can hurt your dog
This could be true. Especially with Dachshunds because they are prone to back injury.
Not every dog is a good candidate for an anesthesia free dog teeth cleaning procedure.
The ideal dog is one that is mild mannered, doesn’t have severe arthritis, does not have a history of frequent spinal disk ruptures, isn’t easily stressed, and has not exhibited aggressive behavior in the past.
I will say that my Dachshund Gretel does have Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), the disease that weakens a Dachshund’s spine, and general anxiety, but, to my surprise, there have been no issues with getting this procedure done.
The technician that does our anesthesia free cleaning will refuse a dog if he doesn’t think this type of cleaning is appropriate for a dog (ie. see’s significant periodontal disease) or the dog struggles too much.
He said that both of my dogs, after maybe a mild struggle akin to what they do when I try to cut their nails, relax for the procedure.
6) Bacteria can enter the blood stream and your dog can die
According to The Whole Dog Journal, plaque and tartar build up on a dog’s teeth can cause “A bacterial infection and inflammation in the gums, which can send bacteria through the dog’s bloodstream, where it can wreak havoc with the heart, lungs, kidney, and liver.”
Another article I read indicated that it was possible for a teeth cleaning to dislodge bacteria containing tartar, which can result in that bacteria entering the bloodstream through swallowing or absorption through blood vessels in the moth.
All information I have found says that bacteria entering your dog’s blood stream from plaque and tartar is a bad thing.
However, bacteria can enter the blood stream both by doing nothing – leaving plaque and tartar to build up on your dog’s teeth – and by having it scraped off (both under anesthesia and with non-anesthesia cleaning, mind you).
Bacteria can enter the blood stream any time the surface of the gums is weakened and compromised.
Some vets will pump antibiotics into your dog’s blood stream while cleaning under anesthesia to help keep the bacteria at bay, but some anesthesia-free dog dentists will give you antibiotics to administer after the procedure.
I have not found information that supports the theory that getting your dog’s teeth cleaned using anesthesia-free techniques is any more harmful in this regard than letting your dog develop dental disease from plaque and tartar build up on the teeth – by doing nothing.
So, as I have said in previous articles mentioning this procedure, I maintain that anesthesia-free teeth cleaning is better than doing nothing….. or at least not any worse.
7) Pitting on the teeth can make plaque buildup worse
The argument is that the tools used during dental cleaning can put the surface of the tooth, thus making it rougher.
Plaque and tartar are more likely to stick to a rough surface, making it worse.
In theory, this may be true.
However, I know that some technicians do polish the teeth after anesthesia free cleaning because ours does.
I don’t notice plaque and tartar building up on my dog’s teeth more quickly than they would otherwise.
The rate at which they accumulate seems to be more dependent on genetics, the food I feed my dogs, and the number of opportunities I give them to chew on something to scrape plaque off themselves.
I don’t know enough about this point to argue it. All I could find is detractors making this claim.
I don’t feel like there was enough information on the other side for me to take an informed stance.
I do know that this has not been an issue for us but expect that the experience varies from dog to dog.
I have covered most of the issues about anesthesia free dog teeth cleaning I’ve been made aware of so far – both from comments on my articles and my research.
The bottom line is that:
- Non-anesthesia dog teeth cleaning can’t catch most issues under the gum line like X-rays under anesthesia can
- Trained technicians can perform this procedure effectively, safely, and can visually examine your dog’s gums and teeth for any potential issues
- This type of cleaning may be a viable option for those that don’t want to put their dogs under anesthesia for teeth cleaning
- It’s a personal choice
For a seemingly unbiased article on anesthesia free teeth cleaning for dogs, see this article by The Whole Dog Journal.
If trying to make a decision, you should also read this objective review of the differences between traditional teeth cleaning and cleaning under anesthesia from Healthy Pet Smiles (one of my friends actually wrote this article and she is a very trustworthy lady).
My vet says that my dog’s teeth look great during exams and that there are no signs they need a full dental cleaning under anesthesia.
Due to my senior Dachshund’s (13) I prefer to not put her under anesthesia unless my vet deems it medically necessary.
However, I did get a full teeth cleaning under anesthesia and x-rays when she was 12 just to make sure there weren’t any underlying issues that weren’t detected by visible signs.
Her teeth were in good health and she didn’t need any extractions due to tooth decay.
Our home dental care routine does not include brushing but, instead, I do this.
I will continue to get anesthesia-free teeth cleaning for my dogs when needed to help keep excess plaque and tartar at bay.
My dogs get anesthesia free dentals from Dr. Scott at All the Best Pet Care in Seattle.
Dr. Scott is trained to perform POPD, has been performing this procedure for almost 7 years, has completed over 60,000 anesthesia-free dentals, and every procedure is performed with a vet on premises.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
I completely agree with you.
Thanks Mary-Louise. It’s nice that the first comment on this post was a positive one 🙂
I clean my dogs teeth by scaling no them with my dental instruments. One dog has clean molars and the other has brown ??? on the occlusal surface of the molars. How doI get that off? It is so fa in the posterior part of the mouth and is not the most cooperative. Or is that somewhat normal for a dog?
Hi Barbara. I am not a doggy dentist so I don’t know. The guy who cleans Chester and Gretel’s teeth uses regular dental tools. He’ able to get their molars clean. Here is a video that might help you: https://youtu.be/VGK217YTIYI
As for being “normal”, each dog will react differently. Just like with brushing, your dog will get used to it being done the more you do it. It also depends on the person doing it. Sometimes it’s easier if the person is not the owner. I can’t brush Chester and Gretel’s teeth without a fight but our doggy dentist can use tools in their mouth no problem.
THANK YOU so much for your information on anaesthesia-free dental cleaning for dogs! I live in the Tampa Florida area and am so happy and relieved to learn about this procedure. I have an 11 year old precious Pomeranian (my little girl, Cocopuff?)
And she has CHF which is being treated very well with medication and also narrowing of the trachea as MANY of these little breeds unfortunately develop with age. I had her treated and tested at the best vet facility in Tampa with an experienced certified vet internist and had and echocardiogram preformed and every other recommend test. She has ALL her teeth still but I wanted to get her teeth cleaned professionally but they said her heart condition was/is the first priority. She has plaque buildup and I want her to have healthy oral health but I’m not going to risk her going under anesthesia when her vet team said they do not recommend her going under unless it was ABSOLUTELY nessesary. And due to her age and heart condition they do not want to risk it. I ALSO do NOT want to put her through any undo stress and don’t know if she would oblige during a conscious procedure. I can tell how much you REALLY care and that you did unbiased and thorough research. Thank you very much for brining this topic to light. I am going to do my due diligence in researching certified professionals in my area and of course consult her regular vet and her specialist. Thank you again. Please keep up the great work you are doing!
Hi Alethea. I’m so very glad my article helped you. I think anesthesia free cleaning can be a responsible way – as long at it’s performed by a certified technician – to get a dog’s teeth professionally cleaned who couldn’t have it done otherwise. It sounds like you care very much about Cocopuff and are giving her the best life that you can.
I was a dental hygienist for five years and scale localized areas of my Australian Shepard teeth with issues. It’s really just how well your pup trusts you and tolerates the process. Many dogs unfortunately resist anything or anyone in their oral cavity without being knocked out. And then you’ve got the pups that have chronic heavy tartar build up and periodontal disease… which really fully benefit from professional scaling with ultrasonics and anesthesia 2-4 times annually. Tell me this… who can realistically afford this level of care for 12-15 years on their pup. Anyhow… scaling with a simple 13/14 standard dental scaler is fairly straight forward for the simpler jobs and knowledge about how to position the scaler and how to sharpen them can be easily learned online.
Your babies, your choice. I actually was not aware there was a different procedure to clean a dogs teeth, and am happy to hear there is an alternative to the always recommended anesthesia procedure. Thank you for doing all the research! I’ll be asking our dachshunds vet about this next time!
Definitely do ask. Be aware though that a lot of veterinarians will tell you the many reasons you shouldn’t do it just because the American Animal Hospital Association has taken a public stance against it. I can’t say this is the case for every vet against the procedure but, from what I can tell, they feel have to go along with the mandate if they want to remain accredited. Hopefully your vet is at least open to the idea enough to have a good “pro-con” conversation with you about it.
Your dogs, your choice. People can shove it.
I want to look into this for Pike and Olivia. They don’t let me brush their teeth like Nola, so their mouths are pretty gross.
Sounds like a good idea to at least explore then. One thing I didn’t explicitly state here – I might go back and ad it – is that brushing your dog’s teeth also does not get way under the gum line like cleaning under anesthesia, nor are x-rays taken. In that mind, that makes anesthesia-free teeth cleaning pretty equivalent to brushing a dog’s teeth.
Could an oral sedative pill be administered pre-procedure so as to relax the dog in advance rather than chance all of those risks involved having the general anesthesia as an alternative way to go instead for safety precautions? I too equally also try the no win floss my dogs teeth/ brushing battle with them as the vet has recommended. Additionally, I also ask: Some popular treats are labeled as such and shape specific molded “to help reduce plaque and tarter buildup”, etc… To what extent, if any might these be beneficial for my dogs dental health as I do often wonder about the truth behind the manufacturers labels?
A big thank you Jessica, as this was another great article you put together! I also liked the one before this you wrote about “things every dachshund owner needs to know”. My doxies Schnitzel and Schatzi say hello (woof-woof) to both your Chester and Gretel they enjoy looking at all their adventure photos.
(They officially gave their paw approval as a high five).
Hi Laura –
As far as the “dental treats” go, some are better than others. Some merely make that claim because, like kibble, it’s hard and theoretically scrapes tartar off of a dog’s teeth when they chew on it. Other dental chews have specific ingredients to soften plaque and are of a texture that takes longer to chew and is more likely to scrape the tartar off of the teeth. You can see my system for helping chews scrape tartar off Chester and Gretel’s teeth here: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/one-way-to-clean-your-dogs-teeth-without-brushing/
As for the alternative sedation, I am pretty sure that either doesn’t exist or is not effective when it comes to cleaning a dog’s teeth under anesthesia. If there was a less-risky option for sedation, I am sure veterinarians would already be offering that to their patients.
Thank you for both the link and your reply. Good information and I like the fact you explained by supplying details and photos.
I didn’t know this service was so close to me! I lost one Doxie after a “cleaning” & a few teeth pulled & I am NOT losing his sibling, so I really appreciate this article! Thank you so much!
Oh, no. I am sorry sorry that you lost your baby 🙁 I would definitely check the anesthesia free-option out for routine cleaning.
No one should criticize you for making a choice after you have done due diligence, and have decided what is best for your dog. Other people should not make disparaging remarks to anyone about how they raise, feed, train, or exercise their dogs, as long as the dogs are safe,happy, healthy,and loved. Every dog is different, and we, as owners, know what is best. More power to you!
Thank you Sheila. You are so right. The criticism about how parents raise their human children has certainly extended to furry children as pets increasingly become “part of the family”. As many human parents will say, “Don’t tell me how to raise my kids.” 🙂
I need to have Cosmo’s (my cat) teeth cleaned. Our dogs teeth are gorgeous and clean thanks to the bones they eat. But Cosmo turned his nose up at raw and his teeth really need help. I’ve made an appointment for February. My worry is the anesthesia, but I’m not sure anesthesia free is for him so I’ll discuss this with our vet.
Thanks for the thorough post.
It definitely depends on the condition of his teeth. As I said, my vet has not recommended that Chester or Gretel’s teeth be thoroughly cleaned under anesthesia. I am just doing this as a preventative. If my vet ever told me my dogs might have lose teeth or gum/jaw disease that require X-rays, I would definitely go with the recommended “anesthesia” cleaning.
You’ve given me a lot of food for thought. My Delia is scheduled for a dental cleaning Feb. 10. She will not tolerate me brushing her teeth and she has never been a chewer, so she doesn’t chew dental chews. Her teeth are a mess. Somehow it never occurred to me that anesthesia free cleaning may be an option. I will definitely talk to her vet about it. Thank you!
I would definitely discuss this with your vet. If by “teeth are a mess” you mean there is just a lot of plaque but no signs of tooth decay, this might be a good option for you. If you mean that she has clear signs of dental disease then I would get the teeth cleaned and checked out under anesthesia.
I’m with you in not wanting to put dogs under for routine preventative dental care. I have used the anesthesia-free cleaning thru All The Best Pet Care myself for both my dachshunds and seen great results.
I will tell you that one of my dachshunds, Finn, had regular teeth cleaning under anesthesia in 2012 and afterwards became blind. The vet told me that it was SARDS (Sudden Acuquired Retinal Degernation Disease) but it seems very coincidental that my seemingly healthy dog (who was only 7 at the time) had a routine procedure and came out blind. Something may have happened, something may have not. Regardless, I switched to the anesthesia-free care and never looked back. Finn has since passed but Lucy continues to be a healthy, happy 12 year old dachshund who gets the anesthesia free procedure about twice a year.
At the end of the day, every dog is going to be different. Small dogs tend to have worse teeth but Lucy loves toys and can take down a tennis ball in a matter of minutes so I think that helps with her plaque buildup. I have also used the Plaque Off product which seems to help in between cleanings.
We brush and always have every night before bed, but some teeth to get a bit of build up just because they are hard to reach. We would definitely be up for trying this. It sounds like a great idea!
Mom brushes my teeth every single day. I swear, the woman is obsessed. I’d be great at no anesthesia cleaning because I don’t squirm. Once I had a little bump surgically removed with just a little tranquilizer and I did fine.
Love and licks,
This is interesting. You certainly can’t argue with the results! When I worked at the vet I know the vets always advised against this but that was when it was first being done and when groomers were the ones doing it. You bring up some very valid points!
Most vets do still advise against it in my experience. From where I sit, the veterinary association, and related groups, maintain that cleaning under anesthesia is the only way to go because anesthesia-free has not been proven to be just as effective. In 2013, “AAHA started requiring AAHA-accredited hospitals to anesthetize and intubate patients undergoing dental procedures, including dental cleanings.” It seems they are taking a conservative stance and most veterinarians are going along with this without question because, if they don’t, their accreditation could be at risk. The American Veterinary Dental College is so strongly against it that they launched a website specifically to try and convince people how bad it is. Both organizations will admit that there have been no studies on this so far (except the one I mentioned above, which was done using a very small sample size).
Holistic, “natural” and more progressive vets are the ones likely to say doing this kind of cleaning is ok… although they stress it’s not the same as under anesthesia, as they should.
I have a holistic vet. She says no to this kind of dental cleaning. Being only 5 years old and have had anesthea cleaning already. But due to a lengthy illness that racked havoc on my internal organs, I can not be put under at this time. So we trying it out this week.
Yes, many vets are against it because there have not been many studies done on it’s effectiveness or safety (there used to be none but there are starting to be a few now). It’s a question of what you are comfortable with though and it sounds like you are more comfortable trying anesthesia-free cleaning than going under or doing nothing. Hope it works for you.
Got it done last week. Teeth look great! The cost was $35.00 And it took less than 15 minutes. Wrapped up in a warm towel and held. They have show dogs and have never put their dogs under for teeth cleaning. At 4.5 pounds, mo. Is very happy there is an alternative
Where did you get your dogs teeth cleaned for $35? What kind if oricefuy they did for $35
I’ve read arguments for and against anesthesia-free cleaning as well, but may eventually have it done. My dog is only 4 and I brush her teeth most days (she doesn’t mind.. It’s one of the few grooming things she happily tolerates), but she’s a poor candidate for anesthesia due to a heart defect and so it’s something I’m keeping in mind for down the line. It sounds like you’ve done your research and considered your options. I don’t see anything wrong with your best-option conclusion.
You can disagree all you want, but this type of cleaning procedure without anesthesia, and my mostly untrained, unsupervised people is dangerous, and IMO animal abuse plain and simple!
Would you do this this type of procedure on a one or two year old child?
A dog has approximately the same mental intelligence and awareness of a child that age.
And what if something goes wrong , the tech slips and cuts into your dogs gum?
Are they set up and prepared for medical mistakes?
Lastly, I keep reading its your choice as an owner , if you think its okay is all that matters…… REALLY?
How selfish/irresponsible can you be? AND, you are not the one being handed over to a unlicensed person, for a possibly painful medical procedure with no pain relief given……. would you go to your dentist and have them start scrapping your teeth without a numbing agent?
Hi Josh. I can tell you feel strongly against this so nothing I say will make us agree. I do state in the article that the cleaning should be performed by someone licenced to do so. The person we see is a veterinarian and, although it’s not performed in his regular clinic, he is prepared to hanle things like bleeding gums.
I am a new dog owner. I have had my dog for one year now, and I have to tell you that i am a bit suspect of the entire veterinary field. I was shocked when i first stepped into a vets office, and got my “puppy” welcome pack. Everything in that pack is manufactured by a drug company. The brochures list off twenty different things that your dog can get if you don’t give them certain preventative medications. It’s simply crazy! Big Pharma is in the animal business in a HUGE way – yikes!
My vet has also been pushing hard to get my dog on Hills Dental D/T food, but I read the list of ingredients and it’s full of crap. A lot of corn and rice byproducts – all in the name of helping the dog have cleaner teeth! I currently use a high end kibble (Now Puppies) and that ingredient list is impressive. Everything is organic and no chemicals. I think I will keep my kibble, and just do a better job of brushing my dog’s teeth.
My grandmother (96) grew up on a farm, and always had dogs. Her dogs did just fine, and they never did anything, except feed the dogs. Her dogs lived healthy long lives. From all the research that I have done, it seems that many of the issues in dogs are caused by the crappy food that people give them. If you choose a cheap brand of kibble, you get all kinds of nasty ingredients – dogs are meat eaters, not corn and grain eaters.
My friend had a lab that lived 16.5 years without any issues of any kind, ever! That dog was on a raw food diet from day one, and it showed. He had a shiny coat, perfect weight, and pearly white teeth. I have never met a healthier dog in my life. I was not convinced about raw food, but I am now. I don’t use it myself because I have three small kids that enjoy feeding the dog, so we opted for the best kibble we could find. But once in a while I will feed my dog some turkey or chicken necks, and he loves them.
I am seriously considering switching over to a holistic vet, but need to do a bit more research first, in order to find a good one.
Anyhow, great post, and I say follow your gut 100% – no one cares about your dogs more than you do!
Hi Eric. Thanks for stopping by to check out my blog.
There certainly is a large spectrum of veterinary “help” out there. The way you describe your first experience (overwhelming much? Yikes), gives me the impression that the veterinarian was very traditional. A holistic vet is certainly on the other end of the spectrum. Personally, I lean toward progressive, individual, and natural (where possible) treatments. A holistic vet is more in-line with those values. However, my “traditional” vet is also very progressive and open to new/alternative treatments. She is very much up on the current trends in health care and believes that she is there to help me make the right choices for myself and my dog. Holistic or not, I hope you can find someone that is closer to what you need.
Good luck to you!
My vet recommended not sedating my 10 year old Pomaweenian to clean his teeth as Doxies and Doxie mixes are sensitive to general anesthesia. I work for an oral surgeon and ordered a veterinary scaling kit from our medical supply house. The vet prescribed a valium and showed me what to do twice a year. I use an oral spray for him in between. We’re both happy. ????
I know of a few dog owners that scale their dog’s teeth. The same argument applies to that as anesthesia-free cleaning by someone else – that X-rays aren’t taken and that is the only true way you can check the health of the jaw and teeth below the gum-line. However, I think what you are doing is great. It’s not worth the risk of anesthesia, especially if not even your vet is recommending it. I’m glad to hear that your vet was open to empowering you to do it yourself.
Loved reading your story. Very interesting!
Thank you for this post and discussion. It’s wonderful to know there are alternatives. This is a valuable option for senior dogs who are too old to risk anesthesia, especially brachycephalic dogs like my Bostons, or other smooshy faced breeds.
Loved reading this! I was actually trained by the company who did the POPD study. Still doing dog and cat dentals today, actually started my own business this year. It is very hard to find vets that support what we do, so this was a breath of fresh air to read. Thanks!
Hi. Thanks for your info on non anesthetic dental cleaning. My vet has recommended my Doxie go under anesthesia for his cleaning because his teeth are pretty bad. However she quoted me $1,200 as well. 2015 he had his teeth cleaned under non anesthesia however they did have to sedate him to do the cleaning. He came out fine but I was still nervous about it. Now I’m trying to decide if he should go under anesthesia to do the deep cleaning as he is 9 years old. I am getting a second opinion from a different vet. I also want to try the plaqueoff powder to see if that helps before putting you under anesthesia. He’s healthy, however I’m fearful he will die under anesthesia. Guess we’ll see what the 2nd opinion vet has to say. Thanks for your blog
Hi Sheri. Anesthesia-free teeth cleaning can be a great option but it’s primarily for keeping healthy teeth healthy. In fact, I get Chester and Gretel’s anesthesia teeth cleaning done by a reputable dog dentist and he won’t perform the cleaning if the teeth aren’t “healthy but just dirty”. It sounds like your pup may have some significant dental issues. I wrote another article about the cost of cleaning under anesthesia and that price doesn’t sound totally unreasonable, although on the high end. You can read that article here https://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-get-a-dogs-teeth-cleaned/ (there are a lot of reports from around the country in the comments). I would definitely get a second opinion first though. Although there is a lot of scary information out there, putting a healthy dog under anesthesia is generally safe. There IS still risk though so it’s important to understand the choice you are making.
I’ve been a certified dental hygienist for about 4 years through AVDT, it’s very important to find a hygienist that’s well trained! I enjoyed reading this article so much and appreciate your support. We need more support out there, especially on the internet. I love my job, and I love helping animals. Just wanted to give you a big thank you!!
Yes, I can’t stress that enough…. that the anesthesia-free teeth cleaning should only be performed by a trained dental hygienist. I’m also told that, technically, the cleaning should be overseen by a veterinarian. I don’t know if that’s just good practice or a law though. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
Hey! GREAT, Article! I’m a Certified Vet Tech. Full disclosure, worked with more humans than animals since graduated, but lifelong dog owner and well qualified on the subject at hand. I’ve had a couple of my dogs’ teeth done at the vet, under anesthesia. Some just had clean teeth because of breed, circumstances, ie right kibble, rawhides with proper supervision… The last one that had hers done under supervision had such a bad time coming out of the anesthesia, I promised never again. I was the tech that administered her pre op meds, intubated and knocked her down, (put her under), did the dental, (another tech administered and observed her anesthesia during the procedure, she was not over-anesthetized), recovered her post op, and brought her home trying to get her to come out of it. This was an adult–not senior, healthy active dog. I thought I was going to lose her. All for clean teeth. Not something that I was ever going to risk again. She was on a 2 rawhide chip diet, 1 after each meal, indefinitely. And she knew it! If you didn’t have that thing in your hand when her kibble was gone???? Let the bayying begin. She and her brother were both Beagles. Never begged for a second, she new it was just one. Until the day I lost her she had beautiful white teeth. No calculi whatsoever. Ditto her brother. And, I had all my shoes!
Thanks for chiming in and sharing your experience and that you found a system that worked for you guys. I’m still trying to find the exact right combination to keep Gretel’s teeth sparkly white.
Even if all that stuff about anesthesia-free cleaning is true, like you I prefer to put my dog under anesthesia only when completely necessary, and frankly I don’t see how someone could be okay with putting them under for every little thing like cleaning their teeth. Cleaning their teeth without anesthesia might not be perfect, but… so what? It’s good enough.
Hi! Jessica this is lola a pet dentist from asia! ? Im glad to come across your blog, (thankyou!) ive been doing teeth cleaning since 2009, ive helped thousands of cats and dogs around asia,..????
if you have time kindly check our fb page and ig
Thanks Lola. This may be helpful information for readers who live outside of the US.
I was so glad to find this! I am extremely stressed about my 11-year-old Pomchi Oreo’s teeth as well as her two year old Siamese cat sister- but primarily the dog as her teeth are awful. I’ve been trying to research anesthesia free cleaning after hearing about it and every vet I have talked to has acted like I am crazy. Oreo had a dental last year under anesthesia because she had to go under anyways to be spayed due to an ovarian cyst and her teeth got nasty again fairly quickly. I only had them do a deep scale on her teeth since she had to be knocked out anyways but I could never forgive myself if I put her out JUST for a dental and she never came out of it. If you think that people have said rude things about not brushing the dogs teeth, the things that I have heard when I tell people that I decided not to spay my babies unless necessary would knock your socks off. Like you, money is no object for my babies-i’m going to pay whatever is necessary to give them the best care. They eat organic homemade raw food and have their own supplement cabinet. Raw bones were enough early in life, but Oreos teeth became worn down with age and she will no longer chew anything. I literally cannot brush her teeth because her mouth is so small she gags on even the smallest toothbrushes and I have tried dozens. Can you please help me find someone who can help? I live in Virginia but I am willing to drive them as far as necessary
Hi Nicole. The help you are seeking – you mean for someone who does anesthesia-free dental cleaning, right? I don’t know where you live in Virginia but here are a couple options I found via online search: https://www.companionanimalclinicvirginia.com/services/anesthesia-free-dental-cleanings/ and https://pearlywhitepets.com/ (looks like they serve three counties in Virginia). Both places look like the procedure is performed by a veterinarian or trained technician.