Toby had a checkup at our local vet 6 months ago and was diagnosed with mild gum disease. Our vet said, cleaning Toby’s teeth is something that needs to be incorporated into his weekly routine to keep his gum disease at bay. I was actually surprised that he had it considering he was only 14 months old. The vet said gum disease is way too common in dogs and often results in many expensive visits to the vet where dogs get put under local anthstentic and get a good clean. We definitely didn’t want to go down that road and took on board the vets suggestions to to keep Toby’s teeth clean and healthy. Suggestions from our vet to keep Toby’s teeth clean include using:
– Tooth brush and toothpaste
– Chicken necks
– Chew toys
– Good diet
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
We left the vet and went to Pet Warehouse to purchase a tooth brush and toothpaste. Our vet said that it will take about a month for Toby to be nonchalant about the whole tooth brushing procedure. As dog toothpaste comes in flavours such as meat, cheese and other dog loving foods, she adviced us to let Toby lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush as a treat for a week or two. We did this a few times a day for a week, we would tell him to do a command and then he would get a lick of the toothpaste off the toothbrush. He quickly became used to the toothpaste being a treat and would lick his lips in anticipation. During this week or two we also played fetch with the toothbrush (minus the toothpaste) and would throw it down the hall for him to retrieve. He loved this game and was happy carrying the toothbrush around in his mouth.
The next step was to try and brush just one tiny little tooth each night for about 3 seconds, this proved to be difficult. Toby would see the paste and brush and get ready to lick it off and would be shocked when I pressed the toothbrush on his tooth and tried to brush in circular motions. He would pull away, look at the brush and then at me as if to say, Are you crazy? What are you doing? That was when I realised this tooth brushing thing may actually be difficult to do. I didn’t want to hold Toby’s face still and shove the toothbrush in his mouth because that would scare him. I tried for a week to allow him to let me brush a tooth but it never happend, it got to the point where he would clench his teeth and keep his lips pursed together. Andrew and I really wanted to avoid the method of Andrew holding him down and me getting in there forcefully and brushing his teeth. After a month of trying with no luck whatsoever (we did end up holding him down once and it was a terrible experience, he was scared and we don’t want to put him in situations where he doesn’t feel safe around us because as soon as that happens, that’s when we lose his trust) we looked at other alternatives.
Don’t bother buying those dental sticks from your supermarket that claim to clean your dogs teeth, they won’t. Toby gets a RAW (never, ever give your dog a cooked bone because the bone can splinter when it’s cooked and perforate the intestines) chicken neck once a week and he alternates it with a raw kangaroo tail bone. From his raw bone once a week he gets a great clean because as he gnaws the bone, it helps to remove tartar by grinding it off through mechanical chewing. The chicken neck he finishes within a hour and the roo tail takes a few hours. I always take the bone off Toby once it is small enough for him to potentially swallow and choke on it. I buy my chicken necks from Prahan Markets and the roo tail from Pets Warehouse.
Toby has a box full of toys which he plays with each day. I love seeing his head buried in his toy box deciding on which toy to play with. Chew toys can satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chomp and this makes their teeth strong. Toby gnawing on a chew toy can also help massage his gums and help keep his teeth clean by scraping away soft tartar.
If you can purchase quality dog food you will not only be helping your dog’s health but also their oral health. Ask your vet about a specially formulated dry food that can slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. Giving your dog quality food doesn’t mean they won’t get oral disease (as Toby clearly demonstrated) but it can slow it down. Also, getting your dog to gnaw on raw meat acts as a natural toothbrush. Also, avoid feeding your dog table scraps, instead giving him treats that are specially formulated to keep canine teeth healthy.
We have been checking Toby’s teeth and we can see that the tarter isn’t as prominent and the gum disease seems to have settled down from implementing everything but brushing Toby’s teeth. It will be interesting to see what the vet says and fingers crossed we won’t ever have to get the vet to clean his teeth by putting Toby to sleep.
I’ll leave you with signs to look out for that indicate oral disease
– Bad breath
– Excessive drooling
– Inflamed gums –
Tumors in the gums
– Cysts under the tongue
– Loose teeth.
Have you had success with brushing your dog’s teeth? How do you look after your dog’s oral health?