Anesthesia-Free Pet Dentistry

imageDachshund lovers are very familiar with their dogs’ dental issues. Here at the sanctuary with so many senior Dachshunds, dental work is our single largest expense. We are like most of our Dachshund owner friends, we fear anesthesia when our babies get older. This fear along with the need to minimize expenses prompts some dog lovers to seek alternative ways of keeping their dogs teeth healthy.

In the last week I have spoken with one Dachshund owner who is seeking out a new procedure called Anesthesia-Free Pet Denistry (AFD) because of the expense of a veterinarian doing the work. I also heard from another Dachshund owner who is afraid to have her older Doxie’s teeth cleaned because of the fear of anesthesia. After having read several research articles on the practice of AFD I decided to pass on some of the things I learned.

AFD is in fact quite a bit cheaper than a dental cleaning done by a vet. The visible part of a dog’s teeth are scraped and cleaned, thus giving the owner the impression that their dogs have had all the necessary hygienic work done. What the owners do not understand is that the plaque we can see on our dog’s teeth is not a huge danger to the health of our babies. It’s the plaque and debris underneath the gums that can cause dangerous infections. Bone loss underneath the gums and abscessed molars are not detected during the AFD procedure. Therefore your baby can have multiple, extremely painful problems that are not addressed.

Think about when you sit in the chair at the dentist to have your teeth cleaned. You are, most likely, fairly cooperative. How many Dachshunds do you know that will be still for a good dental exam much less a half an hour of scraping off stubborn plaque? None of mine would sit still for one minute of that procedure. If their gums are nicked or injured, or if they are restrained in any way, they will never forget!

General anesthesia is extremely safe when properly controlled by a trained, educated professional. In all the years we have been rescuing Dachshunds we have had hundreds of dental procedures preformed. We lost one dog to anesthesia because of a very rare reaction to the anesthesia that could not be detected beforehand with blood work. One is too many, but the dangers of infections in dogs’ mouths moving though the blood stream to their hearts and other organs, is a well documented and common cause of death.

In the last five weeks we have had dental work done on five senior Dachshunds. Four of these babies are recent rescues and they all lost some teeth. The other baby is a long term resident of the sanctuary and he lost several teeth too. All five of these dogs will enjoy a higher quality of pain free life because they were treated by a professional. Our wallets are a bit lighter because of it, but the comfort of knowing they received ALL THE BENEFITS of a complete dental is well worth the expense.

The American Veterinary Dental College has published a position paper on this subject and it can be viewed and downloaded at


Author: thepromisedlanddachshundsanctuary

I rescue senior and special needs Dachshunds

6 thoughts on “Anesthesia-Free Pet Dentistry”

  1. Thanks for this important information. My baby, Bentley, is 4 years tomorrow. Appreciate the care you give…it is invaluable!


    1. Thank you Barbara! This procedure was new to me till a few weeks ago and I just had to check it out. I believe it is one of those things that sounds too good to be true and turns out to be too good to be true. Regular dental care is one of the most important things we can do to insure long life and quality of health for our babies.


  2. I am currently going through doggie dental issues. I’m that childless dog owner. You know the type; vets in speed dial, doggie birthday parties, puppy pictures on the wall, matching scarfs, prescription dog food. I admit it, I even smell their breath and do a quick daily poop check to make sure everything’s working right! Maybe a little too attentive?
    So, my doxie was 14 last year, with a grade 3-4 heart murmur, and in need of a dental cleaning. Since the vet and I were concerned about anesthesia in her condition and her teeth weren’t too bad, he suggested cleaning her teeth, as mentioned in the article, without anesthesia (it was about $200).
    The tech said she did great and her teeth looked “beautiful!” Thought we did the right thing for her health and were very happy with her pearly whites! Six month checkup was good; no rotting or loose teeth, but teeth already showed build up.
    Fast forward 4 months. Despite brushing her teeth regularly, her teeth started to look as if they had never been cleaned and her breath began to stink.
    I made an apt with her vet. In that two week wait time, her breath smelled rotten and I noticed she stopped chewing her food, just swallowed the small pieces. She clearly had an infection.
    Turned out, just as the article stated, the cleaning did not remove the bacteria from under the gums. Her roots were atrocious and she had several loose teeth!
    Now I had to make the decision, at 15 years old, with a heart murmur, to chance anesthesia or put my little one to sleep. She was started on antibiotics Friday and scheduled for the first available surgery Monday.
    All said and done: blood work, x-rays, 5 1/2 hours under anesthesia, 8 teeth pulled, stitches, a fragile jaw, pain meds, antibiotics and $2,400 (charged, because I’m a student).
    Thankfully, she made it through surgery beautifully. Recovery was a bit rough the first week. Week two was much better. Week three, she is back to herself and she just got her last stitches out. She’s still a picky eater, so I make her food. She’s getting the hang of gumming and using her remaining teeth. Her little tongue hangs out to the side now.
    The point is, she went to two vets, every six months, without fail; she had her teeth professionally “cleaned” less than one year before; and had her teeth brushed regularly. Yet, in a matter of months they went from appearing pearly white, to build-up, infection, rotten and pulled! I had a false sense of security that her teeth were healthy, because they were pretty and “clean,” but they were secretly rapidly decaying at the root.
    Vet dental work is painfully expensive, but so necessary for their comfort! I don’t know for sure if the anesthesia free dental work actually caused more rapid decay and/or led to the infection or if it just laid the groundwork for it. It may be a viable choice in some cases without other options or to buy a few months to save up for the costly procedure, but it may not be a good substitute if they need deep dental care!


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