Text Box: One of the new services many groomers seem to be offering is “anesthesia free dental cleanings”.  Please be aware that we do NOT recommend hand scaling your pets’ teeth, whether at home yourself or by a groomer.  While they may be able to remove some of the calculus buildup on the teeth and give the impression of aiding in dental health, in reality they may be causing more problems and the only benefits are cosmetic.  The vast majority of buildup occurs UNDER the gumline, and cleaning this away is the most important part of a proper dental prophylaxis.  It simply is not possible to do this properly without sedation for several reasons.  First, the roots on dogs teeth can be extremely large in comparison to the tooth;  and since they don’t brush their teeth daily it is quite common for periodontal pockets to occur that are much deeper than what human dentists are likely to see in their patients.  This means that we often need to go quite a ways under the gumline to address all of the problems.  Not only is this uncomfortable for the dog, but very, Text Box: very few dogs are well trained enough to allow it even in a relatively healthy mouth.  My own dogs will lie quietly on their sides for me to do basic dental care on them, and sometimes even allow me to place a mouth gag to hold their mouths open;  but even with as well as they handle it I STILL need to sedate them regularly in order to do a complete job.  In addition, without following up calculus removal with polishing the enamel smooth, you may actually accelerate the rate at which the calculus builds up.  I recently saw a new patient in his teenswhose owner had hand scaled his teeth regularly during his younger years.  Not only did his teeth have much more calculus  buildup than the average 
Text Box: Should my groomer clean my pet’s teeth?

Edgewood Animal Clinic

average dog of his age, but he had extreme periodontal disease and a severe abcess which caused his face to swell.  The hand scaling probably accelerated the calculus build up making his periodontal disease worse, but also making it harder to detect because the visible calculus which is one of our indicators was gone.  He not only had a very painful few days, but he also needed multiple extractions. While those doing these scalings often promote them as being safer because they are “anesthetic free”, the risk of anesthesia is quite small and the hand scaling is actually much more likely to cause harm over the long term.  In some cases dental cleanings by laypersons such as groomers also may violate the veterinary practice act.  So, brush your pet’s teeth at home, but leave the scaling and polishing to your vet!


Left:  Two examples of  teeth with heavy calculus buildup n the root.  The brown, icky part that you see is all under the gumline and hidden from view!

Text Box: Warning:  avoid chicken jerky treats

For the past several years, there have been increasing reports of illnesses associated with chicken jerky treats, sold commonly in pet stores and grocery stores all across the country.  In most cases, the problems involved kidney disease.  Several thousand cases have been reported to the FDA, including 500 deaths, mostly involving dogs but a few involving cats as well.  So far the FDA has not been able to find a cause for the problem.  However, this past week several of these brands were recalled due to antibiotic residues found in the treats;  these residues apparently involve an antibiotic not approved for use in the US, and the residues should not be present in any case.  There at this time is no clear cut connection between the recall and the previous reports of disease.  However, it does seem clear that feeding the chicken jerky treats is not advisable at this time. 


The brands most commonly implicated are Waggin Train, Milo’s Kitchen (both chicken jerky and chicken grillers), and

Canyon Creek.  Several private brands including Publix  and Cadet brands were also involved in the antibiotic recall.


The jerky treats are typically made in China;  in the past there have been issues with the plants responsible for making them not allowing inspection and also falsifying records.  Many of you may  remember the incident several years ago in which many brands of pet food were found to contain wheat gluten contaminated with melamine;  ultimately it was determined that the melamine had been added in China to falsely elevate the protein levels.  Sadly it also damaged the kidneys of many pets who were unfortunate enough to eat the contaminated food.


Our current recommendation is to err on the side of caution;  avoid chicken jerky and dehydrated chicken treats completely, and also avoid any treats and chews made in China wherever possible (it is not always easy to determine where

the food is manufactured, as it can go through various distributors).  Your pet’s health is not worth the risk.


You can make your own chicken jerky at home by slicing boneless chicken breasts or tenderloins with the grain, into slices about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle lightly with garlic powder and spread on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 2 hours at 200 degrees (til dry and chewy).  Store in freezer bags in the refrigerator for a few days or indefinitely in the freezer.