A dog with a clean mouth is a nicer friend to have around. He’s also healthier, happier and less likely to have to go to the vets in later life to have dental work.
In about 2005 I took my Jack Russell, Squirrel, to the dental vet in Edinburgh, Norman Johnston. She had a strange condition in her mouth, unrelated to dirty teeth but in need of specialist attention. Before visiting Norman I had always scaled my dogs’ teeth every so often, but Norman put me right on that. Clean their teeth, he said. Every day, he said. I don’t have time, I said. And you think I do? He said.
I’ve missed the occasional day since then, but I do my very best. Because Norman put the fear into me. Dogs with dirty teeth carry a bacterial load that makes them a little bit not well all of the time, he said. Oh no! I said. My dogs are a little bit ill all of the time.
He recommended Virbac C.E.T Enzymatic Toothpaste, I wish it was the same price as human toothpaste, but ho hum. He recommended using a baby’s toothbrush, and that’s what I use on my Papillon. I buy them in bulk from Wilkinsons or wherever else I can find a nice 3 or 4 pack. Dogs chew toothbrushes.
A couple of years after that I saw a TV programme about a Sea World Centre, think it was a Sea World Centre. And the keeper, I think they’re called keepers, was cleaning a walrus’s teeth with an electric toothbrush. What a good idea, I said. Although the woman didn’t hear me because she was just on the tv.
Squirrel and Beetle (my Spaniel Cross) accepted the electric toothbrush very easily so that’s what I use on them. It’s a little bit fun, I enjoy the process of cleaning the dog’s teeth with the electric toothbrush, it’s just such an off-the-wall thing to be doing. Paris, the Papillon freaked when I tried, so I just gave up and use the manual brush. I don’t normally like to give up, but he was well over 8 years old at the time, so I let him and me off the job of proofing him to the noise of the thing.
Beetle loves her teeth cleaning. “Beetle teeth!”, I call and she comes running. She jumps onto the sofa or the grooming table and sucks and chomps and we have to buy new toothbrush heads quite frequently. Truth? She gets mine when I’m finished with them, very occasionally her own new one, she doesn’t seem to mind. And no, we don’t share the brush handle, she has my old one and her “dog show” one which uses ordinary batteries.
I don’t find it easy to schedule teeth cleaning into my day, I try to do it after I’ve cleaned my own teeth, but it’s hard to discipline myself to sit down in the morning and do the job. So I work hard at getting it done. I have “If you do nothing else, clean dog teeth.” reminders all over the place. The reminders do work, but I’m not going to pretend I find it easy to remember.
And little Specs? Be nice if she accepted the electric brush, so much easier. So, when I’ve done the adult dogs’ teeth I turn the brush on, just touch it to her mouth, nothing fancy, then go do something else. Because she only visits me for day-care, I haven’t done as much as I’d like. But she didn’t get upset and everything good that goes into puppy’s little head when they’re very young sticks very nicely, so I’m guessing (hoping) when she cuts her adult teeth and cleaning becomes more of an issue, we’ll not find it very difficult to get going with. Except for the remembering to do it bit, but I think that show will run and run.