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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

The Importance of Dog Dental Cleaning for Your Australian Shepherd

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

A dog dental cleaning can be one of the most important steps you can take to help maintain the health of your pet. That's because, as with humans, the greater majority of disease causing bacteria in a dog's body can be found in its mouth. Surely, any dog owner has had plenty of unpleasant experiences with "doggy breath," but that dog bad breath is more than just an annoyance; it is a sign of unhealthy teeth that can only be properly treated by a veterinary dentist.

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Good dental health is important for all breeds, including Australian Shepherds. While there are certain steps you can take at home in regard to cleaning dog teeth, such as regularly brushing your dog's teeth or giving him dog chew treats like Dentastix or Greenies, that promote cleaning, the only way to thoroughly combat built up bacteria is with a deep, professional cleaning. (When you brush your dog's teeth be sure to use dog toothpaste made specifically for dogs.) This is much the same effect as you would get by having a dental cleaning as opposed to simply brushing your teeth every day.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to expect your pet to simply sit through a full dog dental cleaning. Since thoroughly cleaning the teeth means not only scaling, or scraping the outside of the teeth, but also getting up under the gums where most bacteria lives, it can understandably be rather uncomfortable. If you've ever experienced a professional cleaning by your dentist, you should be able to identify. While you can sit still for your cleaning, it is far harder for your dog to do so and so special steps will need to be taken.

Young blue merle Australian Shepherd with white teeth.

vkarlov /

Clean your dog's teeth from an early age is important for their overall health throughout their life.

For most cleaning, it will be necessary to anesthetize your dog, though there is one method for cleaning dog teeth that does not use anesthesia. This is called non-anesthesia dental scaling, or NDS. During this procedure, your dog will need to be physically restrained while the veterinary dentist uses a sharp instrument to remove built up plaque from the visible part of his teeth.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Traditional Dog Dental Cleaning By A Veterinary Dentist

In more traditional dog dental cleaning, your pet will be anesthetized before the veterinary dentist begins a multi-pronged procedure. It begins with a full set of x-rays, similar to the ones that you get when you visit your dentist, in order to identify and locate any potential problems. Next, a full cleaning is performed under the gum line where bacteria thrive, something that could never be done on a dog that is awake.

Australian Shepherd Skyler after his dental cleaning.

Cal Orey

This happy 4 1/2 year old Aussie is Skyler after his dental cleaning.

Finally, the veterinary dentist will complete cleaning dog teeth by scaling and polishing the crown, or visible part of the teeth. Scaling helps to remove plaque and tartar build up from the teeth while polishing leaves the tooth with a completely smooth surface, which discourages plaque and bacteria from adhering to it.

While many dog owners worry about the use of anesthesia for dog dental cleaning, it is actually very safe and in almost every case, your dog will be able to go home the same day. When you consider that poor dental health can leave your pet open to any number of more serious health issues, you can see that undergoing anesthesia is more than a fair trade off.

You should never take your dog's dental health for granted. Always be sure to take proper steps at home to help your dog maintain strong, healthy teeth and make sure you take him to the vet on a regular basis for a thorough cleaning. It may seem unnecessary, but in the long run, having a healthy and happy pet will make it all worthwhile.

Illustration showing teeth of the dog.

Alexander Pokusay /

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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