My groomer wants to clean my dog's teeth while he's getting groomed. Is this a good idea?
It is a wonderful thing to have your pet's teeth brushed while at the groomer. However, with regards to the groomer physically removing dental tartar--ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!
Several problems crop up when groomers manually scrape tartar off your dog;s teeth:
First of all, the dog is fully awake, NOT sedated; if he has gingivitis, scaling his teeth will be quite painful. This is a terribly inhumane thing to do to a dog--expecting him to stand quietly for such a painful procedure. In addition, only visible tartar can be scaled away with hand tools; tartar BELOW the gumline, the main source of gingivitis, can't be accessed with hand tools in an awake dog.
Secondly, scaling teeth with hand tools always leaves deep grooves in the enamel. These grooves must be properly polished away, or the rough surface of the tooth enamel will accumulate tartar 2-4 times faster, due to the increased surface area for tartar to "grab" on to. (Think of the sequence of events when YOU get your teeth cleaned at your dentist!) So, what little short-term benefit your dog receives from the hand scaling is more than offset by the enamel damage.
Last, and most important, scaling of teeth always releases bacteria into the bloodstream through the gums. If your dog is not properly already on antibiotics designed for gingivitis, he could end up with an acute case of endocarditis, similar to Rheumatic fever in children with strep throat.
The only thorough and safe method to clean your dog's teeth is at the veterinary clinic, under light anesthesia. The technical staff of Windmill Animal Hospital are pleased to provide courtesy dental checks, to evaluate if your pet needs a professional dental cleaning.