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Dental Care 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 results are unhealthy animals and infected mouths. Most prevention involves treating the mouth directly once or twice a day. However, this is not possible on a consistent basis.

Revival has been working on kennel dental care within water and there have been some promising results! First, we needed 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 is a rock-type substance that requires scraping and ultrasonic cleaning, basically miniature jackhammers to remove. The key is to kill the plaque before it can mineralize and bond to enamel.

Plaque --> tartar takes 4 to 5 days to form, so killing the plaque at least twice a week will prevent tartar buildup. Once the plaque is killed, it can then be removed with the mechanical chewing of dry food.


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

If using Chlorhexidine with in-line medicators, use Chlorhexidine 128 cc/gallon of water and use that stock solution in medicator cup. Set medicator to 1:128. That stock solution will give you 1 cc/gallon in water system. Chlorhexidine prevents slime buildup in these water systems, as well!

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


Other product such as Zinc and Citric Acid have worked well, but they have a stability issue, making it difficult to get in the animal. Chlorhexidine is already used as a disinfectant for the whelping box, as it is safe for nursing puppies and mom. The concentration is low and there have been no issues, even when used continuously in medicator cups with nipple water systems.


Although breeders are genetically selecting away from dental issues, some dogs simply don’t have good teeth and require regular dental cleaning. Prevention will keep the gum line healthy, longer preventing most issues. If you can prevent the majority of dental issues, it is economical to do the dental cleaning for the few who really need it.

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 your personal 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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