Dental Hygiene in Dogs
So, this is going to be kind of controversial. My name is Peter Roe. I am co-owner of this store. I am the loving parent of a German Sheppard named Poppy. She is my best friend in a lot of ways. As I type this alone in my room she is laying behind me keeping me company when no-one else feels the need to. I love her.
However as much as I love her she is getting old. She is about 10 years old exactly. Also being a pure bread, that is considered very old. However she is as full of life as when she was a pup.
She’s getting gray around her muzzle and starting to sleep in more then she used to. Like a beautiful flower she will wilt eventually. Even if that is hopefully years and years away.
So enough with the gloom. This is about her teeth. So, about 3 months ago I was playing tug with her outside in the sun. Her lips were pushed up and showing her back teeth. I had never noticed this before but her back top teeth had thick layers of yellow tarter built up on them. My heart immediately dropped. I saw this as a real indication to how old she is getting.
But I am known to be hard headed, and immediately started thinking about how to fix this. So I did the obligatory googling, found that tarter build-up in dogs is very common, and was somewhat comforted by the pictures I saw of dogs with 10x worse build up then Poppy, but had made full recovery’s.
So time to fight this nasty yellow crud that has decided my Poppy’s teeth are a good home. So what were the options. Many articles I found said that you must take her to the vet to be put completely under and have her teeth scraped clean, this would cost $900 dollars at least and be very stressful for her. So that was bouncing around in my head for a few days. After a while I was seriously considering it.
Then my right brain kicked in and went. Pete, she’s an old dog, and unlike you she dose not understand that all the pain and awkwardness is for the good of her health. You will have to pay a grand to have your friend poked and scraped just to make yourself feel better. When lets be real she dose not seem to care that much about the tarter.
Fighting the grime
So I thought about it some more. I then decided “hey I have an old dental scraper from a yard sale, I’ll do it myself with no sedation” Well guess how that turned out, the scraper was at a yard sale for a reason, it was completely ineffective, tarter is like concrete.
Back to the drawing board. OK so It occurs to me that this problem happened, because like most pet parents, I have been neglecting my dogs teeth for almost a decade. So I decide to get some dog safe tooth paste and try to pick up the broken pieces of my care-giving practices. At the pet store I find a bottle that says that after 30 days of repeated brushing the tarter will be gone (if it is in thin layers, not caked on like poppy’s) I’m thrilled, thinking even if it takes 3 months this will work and I will be able to save a grand and poppy from the torment of teeth surgery.
Brush brush brush! Ever night for 3 months now I have sat down with a tooth brush and scrubbed those nasty back teeth. At the beginning there was blood. “to be expected, she has not brushed in 10 years” I also discovered that part of her gums was loose and infected, After about 3 weeks this went away, so did the bleeding. However there was still a lot of buildup left. So I continued and do not plan on stopping. Once you get into the routine it is not hard. She expects it and has no idea why I do it, but its like a kid with math homework, she just impatiently goes along to be done with it.
Something else has happened as well that is very worth noting. She was in fact in pain before I started this. Everyone in the house has said that she is more energetic lately. More like her puppy self. It just goes to show how animals will hide pain and have no way of complaining until it becomes so bad it cripples them. I was foolish in thinking “oh well the vet pulls up her lips to look at her teeth so I am sure they would tell me if there was something wrong” I guess the truth is they make sure that nothing is going to fall out, not that she is pain free without infection.
Covid-19 happy accident
The last thing I am going to talk about is actually buying dental scrapers. So I drink a lot of coffee, and smoke the occasional cigar. Anyone in my boat will know, your teeth get stained and yellow fast. Covid-19 has closed my dentist and left me with yellow teeth. Now they are reopening, however, appointments are far away for routine things like cleanings. Like how I have started cutting my own hair (do i really need to worry about how I look if I am wearing a mask all the time anyway) I decided to scrape my own teeth. I hated looking in the mirror and seeing Jack Sparrow teeth. It just made me feel dirty.
$40 and I had 2 professional USA made dental scrapers. Went in the bathroom as soon as they arrived, and what do you know they instantly made my Jack Sparrow teeth white as porcelain. Then it occurred to me, I can do this to Poppy!
This is the most important thing to take away from this long winding article. Poppy is a dog, she has absolutely no idea that people poking her and looking at her teeth care about her health. She just thinks “ouch, why do they stab me every 3 years” So the only reason she goes along with any medical treatment is because she trusts me. I feed her, walk her, listen to her when she wants something. Dogs are pack animals, they do not understand much except, this person generally helps me and dose not hurt me, or apologizes shortly after.
Vets on the other hand, she has no relation with the vet, she freaks out when she has to see them because all she knows them to do is stab her and stick thermometers up her rear. This is why if you take it upon yourself to do simple procedures like scrape your own dogs teeth, you will see better results with less effort and sedation.
This is the perfect example. Poppy lets me hold up her gums and carefully scrape at her teeth to remove the tarted, this must hurt a little. However she lets me do it. She trusts me for whatever I am doing to not be anything bad for her.
So without any sedative and about 2 minuets a night, or like 20 if I am feeling good enough to scrape them, I have been able to remove 80% or the tarted on her teeth myself with 2 x $10 bottles of natural tea tree toothpaste, 1 tooth brush the dentist gave me for free, and 2 x $20 scrapers I ordered off the internet. All without sedation or much awkwardness to my best friend Poppy.
That is the company that I try to run, just love your pets and they will love you beyond what they can understand, they will let you help them and be loyal and happy furry friends for many years to come.
Disclaimer: I did not do this because I am cheap. I did this to accomplish a goal with minimal impact on Poppy’s mental health. I actually got a quote from the vet for a teeth cleaning it was $900+ and involved 13 different invasive procedures, then at the bottom said “adverse reactions or results can occur” or something like that. As well it is a fact every time any animal including us is put completely under anesthesia, there is a chance we never wake up, that is the nature of the drugs they use.
Disclaimer #2: I AM NOT A VET. Just a holistic pet parent who questions the current medical establishment.