Ways to Clean a Dog's Teeth Without Sedation

by Naomi Millburn
    Inordinate salivation sometimes indicates canine dental problems.

    Inordinate salivation sometimes indicates canine dental problems.

    George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Keeping your dog's teeth clean and strong is just as important as keeping yours healthy. Dogs, just like people, are susceptible to oral diseases and all of the uncomfortable symptoms that accompany them, from gum inflammation to yucky breath. This is why regular teeth cleaning sessions at the veterinarian are important for all canines. Home brushing sessions are also vital.

    To Sedate or Not During Dental Cleanings

    In August of 2013, the American Animal Hospital Association issued a mandatory dental standard for AAHA-accredited veterinary clinics stating that all dental procedures for both dogs and cats be performed under general anesthesia with the patient intubated. The American Veterinary Dental College agrees and notes that performing teeth scaling or other dental procedures on a pet that is not anesthetized is dangerous because harm can come to the teeth, gums or mouth of the patient, or to the handler if the dog becomes uncooperative.

    Non-Veterinary Dental Cleanings

    Be cautions about getting your dog's teeth cleaned by a company that performs basic dental cleanings on dogs without the use of sedation or anesthesia. Many veterinarians frown upon the concept of dental cleaning without sedation or anesthesia. The absence of anesthesia often poses problems for cleaning dogs' teeth, including difficulties in polishing and handling plaque extraction in the area below the gumline, according to veterinarian Patty Khuly. Dogs find teeth-cleaning sessions without sedation to be extremely uncomfortable, scary and nerve-racking experiences. Professionals at companies that offer anesthesia-free services often employ hand tools exclusively to clean dogs' teeth. They often clean dogs' teeth as they carry them in their laps, speaking to them in soft, comforting vocal tones. Such companies frequently hire licensed veterinarians to monitor all oral exams and sedation-free cleaning sessions in dogs.

    No Sedation for Home Brushing Sessions

    When it's time to get your dog's teeth cleaned, talk to a veterinarian to gain an understanding of the process. When you discuss anesthesia and sedation with the vet, make sure she's aware of your dog's full medical background. While professional teeth cleanings in dogs generally call for sedation or anesthesia, home brushing sessions are another story. Ask your vet to instruct you on how to appropriately brush and clean your pooch's teeth. Aim to brush your dog's teeth regularly using a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for canines. When you begin brushing your dog's teeth, the goal is to get him relaxed. Use your finger to rub his lips in circles. Do this for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. Once he seems fine with that, do the same with his gums and teeth. Then, help him adjust to the new flavoring of toothpaste by placing a dab of it on his lips. When you clean your dog's teeth with a brush, do so softly, never aggressively. Keep your movements small and circular. The more diligent you are about brushing your pet's teeth, the less time he might have to spend at the veterinarian's clinic in future teeth cleaning sessions.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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