Money has sprung up as an issue while I attempt to live off of writing, so a few items must be put on hold. Since my car has become kind of a jerk lately (maybe a new CO2 sensor is in our future?), I am trying not to grit my teeth too much. I have set aside dental insurance for myself for the time being, and the dogs’ professional teeth cleanings will be put off for a year. I know these things are better done than not so I’m not completely at ease with this.
I’m trying to be optimistic, and Sophie has gotten cleanings for the past three years, all with good results. Rufus just got his adult teeth this summer and they are bright and shiny. He doesn’t seem to have any painful chewing issues so I think we’re doing OK. I’m sure I’ll be fine – I had a check up in October and everything looked good. I have to remember that way back in the land of the late 20’s, I went about three years without seeing a dentist due to no dental plan. Once I went in, there was some plaque but nothing to be worried about. And that was pre-Sonicare! I have been lucky – no doubt about it. Hoping the dogs will be good too.
In the meantime, I have resumed brushing the dogs’ teeth every other day. Sophie repeatedly demonstrates that she is the more mature of the two dogs by not fighting me every step of the way. She remains in one spot and doesn’t move her head around the way she used to. A groomer who was hanging out at the local pet supply store told me twenty brushes each side ought to suffice. We can get to roughly fifteen before she begins to move the head around.
Sophie gets the toothbrush. She is no fan of this procedure but she tolerates it like a champ. Rufus gets the plastic cap that goes over my index finger. (I almost wrote “Rufus gets the finger” but I no longer have the mentality of a 10-year-old now that I have hit the latter 40’s). He is firmly on the fence about this. And I don’t want to freak out this already twitchy dog so for right now, he reluctantly walks up to me and begins licking the toothpaste off of the plastic finger cap. Then I move it around his mouth as much as he will let me. Right now he likes to give it a good chomp. These things are durable and there is not as much pain in my finger as you would think.
I also give each dog a dental biscuit/treat once a week. This week they each got a Nature’s Balance treat. I also have a box of Greenies. I know there have been a few issues with that last brand and I am hoping that they actually have dental cleaning properties. So far there have been zero digestive issues with either of my dogs, and that has been the biggest concern that I have read about.
The bacon-flavored Benebones are always a hit, and they are well-chewed when they show up. The big thing, though are the raw bones they’ve gotten from the Only Natural Pet Supplies and Ciji’s – real bones that sometimes are frozen sometimes room temperature. We’ll get either knuckle bones or femur bones that, I have been told, help scrape off plaque and tartar. They last a long time as well. The only caveat is that repeated use might dull the teeth a little bit – an issue with Sophie’s teeth.
I first learned about the need for canine oral health when my parents’ first Large Munsterlander Minnie had serious periodontal issues. The poor girl had to have many teeth pulled in her life. This was first noticed when Minnie was losing weight because she would not eat because it was too painful. Then once the problem was discovered, the vet noted that it was chronic rather than an isolated infection. My mother was diligent about brushing Minnie’s teeth and scheduling cleanings for both her and the super spoiled lab, Saba (who will someday get her own post).
When I was growing up, all of my family’s dogs appeared fine in the dental health department as far as we knew. We had Gretchen, Duke, Poncho, Gurr, Josey, and Sachem, followed by Nick, Minnie, and Saba once I went to college. I don’t recall ever taking any of them for a cleaning. I remain in the dark as to whether that was even a thing in the 1980’s. Most of them lived good long lives. A few did not due to circumstances that we ought to have controlled better – an open fence, leaky anti-freeze to name two. Overall we considered our dogs to be well-taken care of, despite the often sketchy appearance of Gravy Train in their dinner. As we learned more, we did more. And this, of course, is really all we can do.