Achieving Balance and Harmony


Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

Written by Dr. Sherry Weaver

I have a three-year-old rescued long-haired German shepherd named Elsie. At her annual check up six months ago, the vet recommended teeth cleaning for her. I opted for a non-anesthesia cleaning which my vet opposed. I want to do what's best for my dog. In your opinion, is putting my dog under anesthesia really necessary to get the teeth clean?

Vicki Addley

Dear Vicki,

Imagine what your teeth would feel like if you didn’t brush for three years. There would be sensitive gums and a large amount of material and infection under your gum line. I know that I wouldn’t let a dentist clean carefully under my gum line if they hurt that much!

The reason for maintaining good oral health is that it prevents the bacteria and debris under the gums from causing life-threatening infections. You don't accomplish this if you don't clean adequately under the gum lines, and you can't clean under the gum lines if it hurts.

This is the dilemma. If you brushed your dog's teeth daily, you may get away with cleanings while your dog is awake (if he or she is extremely docile). Typically, awake dental care focuses on removing the visible tartar and does nothing about the more serious disease under the gums. If, however, like most of us, you do not brush daily, the only option that may give your dog the extra years of life is to have the teeth thoroughly cleaned while under sedation.

Dr. Weaver

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