Dental Prevention in the Kennel

Dental disease prevention has been a big frustration for kennels. If the correct steps are not taken to prevent dental disease the end result is unhealthy animals and infected mouths. Most prevention involves treating the mouth directly once or twice a day and is not doable on a consistent basis. This prevention has not worked well either because of the repetition and labor or the wrong product in the preventative.

Revival has been working on kennel dental prevention through water and there have been some promising results! The first was to establish: why are there dental issues?


Plaque is a slime layer that forms on the tooth at the gum line. Plaque is a living bacterial layer that lives on the food being eaten. It was thought that dry food would remove it, but mechanical scraping of plaque by feeding dry food is not effective on its own. Plaque just moves up and down as the chewing happens with little benefit. The problem arises after Plaque mineralizes to form Tartar. Tartar being a rock type substance takes scraping and ultrasonic cleaning, basically miniature jackhammers to remove. That stage is too late to help. Some people do report the tartar chipping off, if they control the plaque!

Plaque - Tartar takes 4-5 days to form, so killing the plaque at least twice a week will prevent tartar build-up. Once the plaque is killed it can then be removed with mechanical chewing of dry food. The key here is to kill the plaque before it can mineralize and bond to enamel!


Use water prevention at least twice a week to kill plaque, and then plaque can be removed by dry food chewing! There are several products that have been researched but Chlorhexidine solution 2% is the most promising. Using Chlorehexidine 1 cc/gallon of drinking water daily for 30 days will help eliminate the gingivitis. Once the gingivitis (gum infection) is under control, twice weekly prevention in the water has had the desired effect.

Using Chlorhexidine with In Line Medicators:
Use chlorhexidine 128 cc/gal water and use that stock solution in medicator cup -- set medicator to 1:128. That stock solution will give you 1 cc/gal in water system.

By themselves, dental chews have not been the answer but once Chlorhexidine kills the plaque and the gingivitis is cleaned up, dental chews work! VET BASICS® Enzymatic Dental Chews are abrasive enough to help remove tartar build-up. Enzymatic chews can be safely used with other dental care products and is especially helpful for Yorkies and similar breeds known for their extreme tartar buildup. Remember your goal is to eliminate anesthetic dentals when possible.


There are other product such as Zn and Citric Acid that have worked well but have a stability issue making it difficult to get in the animal. Chlorhexidine is already used as a disinfectant for the whelp box as it is safe for nursing puppies and mom and readily available. The concentration is low and there have been no issues, even when used continuously in medicater cups with nipple water systems. Chlorhexidine prevents slime build up in these water systems as well!


Breeders are genetically selecting away from dental issues but some dogs simply don’t have good teeth and require regular dental cleaning. Prevention will keep the gum line healthy longer preventing most issues. Preventing the majority of the dental issues makes it economical to do dental cleaning to the few who really need it.

Puppies are a lot of work and everybody wants to raise healthy puppies. Healthy puppies are all about managing breeding stock health. Mom is the first to see a vulnerable newborn. She gives the newborn good bacteria and bad! Managing for clean mouths is healthy for mom and the puppies she cares for. There is no magic cure for dental issues but with genetic selection and water treatment, mouths are becoming much healthier!

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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