To deal with the issue of a lot of plaque, dental decay or poor dental hygiene, take your dog or your cat in to the vet for a cleaning under anesthesia. If your dog or cat has any of the things we just mentioned, a vet visit is a must! Your dog or cat may also be in pain from these issues and not eating well. A vet cleaning when your dog or cat has an infection in their mouth or a lot of plaque build up where you have to clean under the gum line is the most effective in this scenario. We'd only recommend this option if your dog or cat are not seniors and do not have elevated liver enzymes or heart disease. It is still considered risky from the perspective of putting your dog or cat under anesthesia.
Brush at least once a week! Don't be lazy about this. It could save you easily over $5000 over your dog or cat's lifetime. How much do dog dental cleanings cost? In Vancouver, Canada it can cost anywhere from $1000 to $2000 for x-rays, anesthesia, teeth extraction if any issue, scaling etc to visit a vet.
To brush well, sit with your back against a wall and with your dog on his back between your legs. (The dog's mouth will be pointing up at you as you stare down). Aim at getting between the gums, brush every tooth surface and also your dog's jowls and tongue. Brush for at least 2 minutes.
For cats, we suggest getting your cat acquainted to a finger their mouth when you are petting them. Then slowly start using a finger brush to brush their teeth.
Alternatively you can provide recreational bones for dogs. Make sure the bone is sized appropriately for your dog and his chewing habit. Femur bones are load bearing and can crack teeth if your dog is an aggressive chewer. We typically do not recommend femur bones for chewing. In all circumstances, ensure you are supervising your dog or cat when they are chewing bones. Never feed cooked bones to a dog or cat as they get harder on cooking and can splinter or represent choke hazards.
This method is not as thorough as the anesthesia pet dental cleaning by vets but less risky. However, if you really are going to coast on anesthesia free pet dental cleaning you should be aiming at having these done at minimum once every 6 months.