​The Importance of Oral Health

Posted by Michelle for PetTest, AAHA Certified Diabetes Educator on May 4th 2022

​The Importance of Oral Health

The Importance of Oral Health

When Lucy was first diagnosed with diabetes and acute pancreatitis her vet also found a cracked upper molar. It was cracked in half and moved easily so the tooth needed to come out ASAP, but we had to wait until Lucy was healed from the pancreatitis. Four weeks later Lucy had her first dental extraction and while I was scared, she did fine. A couple of years later she had to have a tumor removed on her gum along with a cleaning, again she did fine and thankfully the tumor was benign.

Lucy spent her life getting various chews and stuffed kongs until she got diabetes. After diabetes chews and kongs were banned in the house until I did some reading and learning. LOTS of reading labels!

Today I want to go over some products, tips and treats that are beneficial to our diabetic dog’s dental health. Grab a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage and let’s get to it.

First and foremost, oral health is especially important whether your dog has diabetes or not, but we need to be more diligent with diabetics since they can get periodontal disease easier. Higher blood glucose levels can cause dehydration and dehydration causes dry mouth. Saliva has antimicrobial properties and helps remineralize teeth. Higher blood glucose levels cause excess glucose in mouth fluids as well; glucose breeds bacteria and bacteria build up can cause infections. Infections affect blood glucose levels and periodontal disease can cause heart disease. So those dentals cleanings are important! There are two dental cleanings that I will go over quickly.

Regular dental cleanings – recommended to be done yearly, dogs are put under a general anesthesia during a dental cleaning, a full dental examination is performed, teeth are cleaned and scraped to remover plaque and tartar buildup above and below the gumline, then teeth are polished. Any dental work like tooth extractions will be done as well.

Since your dog is put under general anesthesia for dental cleanings your vet should do pre-anesthesia blood work to make sure that there are no kidney, liver or heart issues.

Ultrasonic dental cleanings – Dogs are put under a light sedation, teeth are scraped and cleaned to remove plaque and tartar build up above the gumline and then teeth are polished. These cleanings are recommended to be done every three to six months compared to regular dental cleanings. Ultrasonic dental cleanings are a good option for dogs with kidney, liver or heart disease.

Make sure when you schedule a dental procedure you get the following information from your vet:

  • Clear directions for food and insulin the morning of the procedure.
  • If procedure is in the afternoon, normal morning routine?
  • Post care instructions – reduced food and insulin is common, typically half meal and half insulin is suggested the night after the procedure.
  • Extraction instructions (for example: soft food for two weeks, no chews, etc.)

Please note that water should never be withheld from a diabetic dog!

I am a major fan of water additives to help with tartar buildup and used the Dechra Topical DentAcetic Dental Wipes on Lucy. Here is a list of dental products that are safe for diabetic dogs (I have gone through ingredients for each product).

Water Additives:



Dental Wipes:

In my search for diabetic friendly treats that would help with Lucy’s oral health and keep her busy chewing most dental treats or chews have flours in them, so they are not good for diabetics. Rawhide does not digest and beef trachea is too high in fat. The following chew treats are a good alternative and are safe for our dogs:

  • Beef Tendons
  • Turkey Tendons
  • Himalayan Yak Chews
  • Cow Ears
  • Jerky (single ingredient or animal protein and a preservative like glycerin is okay)

If your dog is a chewer and loves kongs you can fill a kong with the following:

  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Pure Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • Pureed Lean Meats
  • Veggies (no carrots or peas, they are high on the glycemic index)
  • Meat Jerky (look for single ingredient jerky, added glycerin is a preservative and is okay for a diabetic)

You can fill the kong and then freeze. They make a great summer treat as well!

Lucy absolutely loved beef tendons, they were a huge hit and they took her a while to chew up. Cow ears were also a favorite and the bonus is that they are a great source of collagen.

I hope this blog has helped you understand why oral health is so important for our diabetic dogs and you found it helpful. The links to dental products are for the manufacturer website, most of these products are available on Amazon, Chewy, PetSmart and Petco.

Until next week stay comfy and caffeinated!

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