Posts tagged with "dog health"

Did you brush your pet’s teeth today? Why not?!

Pet tooth care tools

Some at home dental care tools: 2 types of gauze you can use instead of a toothbrush, one type of small toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, oral dental gel which can be used instead of pet toothpaste (also pictured), use which ever flavor your pet prefers. Remember never use human toothpaste for animals! Animals might swallow the fluoride which is not good for them to ingest.

February is National Pet Dental Health month, and begs the question, have you brushed your pet’s teeth lately? This morning I hugged my dog and basked in her warm sweet smell, including her slightly strong ‘doggy’ breath.  You might be like me, and that odor  may not bother you too much. After all,  it seems like a ‘normal’ part of having a pet. However,  it’s really not normal. The concern is not the odor so much as what it could indicate,  possible dental disease. Time brush her teeth and examine her closely for any signs of infection!

Now you may not be able to see the subtle signs of dental disease, that’s your veterinarian’s job, but if you look in their mouth regularly you are going to notice changes. It is your responsibility to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. If you have tried without success, then resign yourself to having to have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned by someone like me, on a somewhat regular basis. You brush your teeth daily and even get your  teeth cleaned once or twice a year. It is no different for our dogs and cats. Imagine what is going on in your animal’s mouth when we only brush occasionally or not at all. We have all heard about and know the dangers of dental disease, from pain and lost teeth, to heart disease. Yikes!

Now I will admit teaching some animals to enjoy having their teeth brushed can be time consuming and frustrating. That is why it is always best to start when they are young, although any animal can learn to, if not enjoy, at least tolerate, getting their teeth brushed. The key is using lots of positive reinforcement, go painstakingly slow,  break the entire process down into little tiny baby steps, pairing the experience with yummy treats that never appear except at tooth brushing time, and being consistent (did I mention going slow).  This is the best way to go. In the long run it saves time, money, dental pain, and the stress of having to undergo dental procedures from the vet. Yes I am telling you how to avoid me and vet dental bills!

Brushing your dog's teeth

However, if this is just not possible for whatever reason, then at some point to keep your animal healthy they will need a dental procedure to address the odor and underlying potential  disease process. In my experience there are 3 options for companion animal dental care.



  1. Complete dentistry, including x-rays, taken under full general anesthesia
  2. Complete dentistry, done under sedation and with pain medication
  3. Anesthesia ‘free’ dental procedures done by non-professionals

Which one you choose is up to you and your veterinarian to decide. Most folks are always a little concerned about general anesthesia, and for good reason.  Which is why I prefer to evaluate each case on an individual basis, and decide which is the best option. If possible, my preference is to opt for #2. This allows the animal to be calm enough to allow a complete and thorough procedure, and address all areas of the mouth, including a good exam of the back of the throat, under the tongue, and the back sides of the teeth, to look for tumors, growths, broken teeth, or any other abnormalities.

I often see people spend a lot of money on option #3. I have some serious concerns with this approach. Although you are avoiding general anesthesia, no matter how gentle the handler, you are still risking the animal struggling  some during the procedure and getting stabbed in the gum with a sharp instrument. Not to mention there is NO WAY you can get the same clear view, fully, inside the entire mouth, with an animal completely awake. Besides, if the animal does struggle and has bleeding gums, wouldn’t you want them to have adequate pain medication on board? I have found very few instances where I have have much confidence or comfort level with someone other than a veterinarian claiming to be able to perform a thorough and adequate dental procedure.

The other extreme is of course general anesthesia, which we all want to avoid.  Which is why I really encourage all my clients to take the time it takes, to teach their animal to tolerate teeth brushing. It is really one of, if not THE most important thing you can do for your animal’s long term overall health and longevity.

However, sometimes it is just not possible to avoid the need for a dental procedure under general anesthesia. Such as if there is a badly fractured tooth that definitely need x-rays and extraction. In this case, the best scenario is to do the blood-work before hand to help minimize the risks, and then resign resign yourself to teaching the tooth brushing, so you never have to put your animal through it again.

My personal approach is more middle of the road, and most of my clients seem to really love it! If at all possible, I prefer to do the dental procedure, right at home, so the pet never has to spend time in a scary hospital. I use an excellent sedative with pain medications, and perform the entire procedure right in the comfort of your own home! I scale, polish, and apply fluoride to the teeth, just as in a regular hospital setting. This allows me to alleviate some of the client concerns about general anesthesia, yet still provide an excellent job fully evaluating the entire mouth and all the teeth, while providing appropriate pain medication.

What it looks like to have a kitty dental procedure done in the comfort of your own home.

What it looks like to have a kitty dental procedure done in the comfort of your own home.

A kitty with moderate to severe dental disease. Notice the red gums indicating significant gingivitis. This is often painful for animals!

A kitty with moderate to severe dental disease. Notice the red gums indicating significant gingivitis. This is often painful for animals!

After the dental procedure. Much improved! An excellent investment in this cat's long term health!

After the dental procedure. Much improved! An excellent investment in this cat’s long term health!

Of course I would still rather spend time encouraging you and teaching you how to train your animal to let YOU brush their teeth, so we don’t have to make any of those choices at all!

Doggy or kitty breath is really not something to be taken lightly. Below are some link’s to video’s showing  the importance of dental disease and how it affect’s health, how to brush your dog’s teeth, and how to brush your cat’s teeth. So the next time you hug your dog or cat and smell their strong breath, remember it’s time to get better about brushing their teeth, and/or have their mouth examined by your veterinary professional. If you know it’s time to schedule that appointment, we now have on-line booking available on this website. For help or advice on teaching tooth brushing, leave comments below, find me on Facebook, or watch some of the helpful videos below.

On that note, I am DrQ, here to help YOU, and your animal, live the longest, healthiest, happiest life possible! Thanks for reading and please share if you like it!

A great video about why brushing teeth is important, tools for at home dental care, and a demonstration of brushing your dog’s teeth. 

Why dental care is so important a good explanation of dental disease in pets.

Clicker training a dog to love toothbrushing if you are inclined to clicker training.

A good example of how to brush cat’s teeth without much fuss.


My Dog Ate My Shoes; Now What?

You adopted an adorable puppy who was in need of a good home. The puppy has become like another member of the family, and is loved and adored by all! All of the things you love about a new pet are there, the love, the cuddles, the house training is no problem, the pup is great in the house, and likes to go everywhere with you. It is a perfect love affair, until the one day you rush out the door,  and your adorable ball of fuzz, normally perfectly well behaved in the house,  decides for some unexpected reason, to express herself by targeting and destroying some personal item of yours. In this case, maybe your personal notebook which holds many of of your important documents. Or maybe it’s your new favorite pair of shoes…

You come home,  exasperated by the finding of the shredded, difficult if not impossible to replace, item. You are understandably angry! And hurt! How could she do this to you? Why did he did this to you? “What did I do wrong?”, you ask yourself. And what do I do now? You don’t have time for this! This is what I wanted to avoid when I chose to get a dog…

You know from reading books and reading on line about dog training, that dogs need a certain amount of exercise, play time, and toys.   You have provided those, yet you still find yourself frustrated. And what about that lag time between when the action happens and you come home to find it? Do they understand why for once you are NOT happy to see them when you got home?

As the Life Coach for People with Pets, let me help you sort through the human aspect of this first, and there in you may find the answers you seek, without spending a lot more time and money.

First of all, it is OK, and natural, to be angry. Yes there are some who say, that if you don’t catch the dog IN THE ACT of destroying something (or peeing on something), they are not “smart” enough to make the association between you being angry now, and what they did perhaps hours ago.  So what are you supposed to do? Come in, see the mess, ignore it and move on? Well then how in the world can you set the odds in your favor it will never happen again?

Let me ask you this, if you came home from work one day, and your roommate who does not speak much English  had taken scissors and cut all your sheets into shreds, would you just come in, and smile and act like nothing is wrong? Of course not! And so therefore I plead the case that yes, you should ‘tell’ your dogs that you are not pleased, when you come home.

No this does not mean it is ok  to rub their nose in it, ever. No more than you would grab your roommate by the back of the neck and throw him down and rub his nose in it. Yet it is natural and normal to put your hands on your hips, look at your roommate, or your dog in this case,  look at the mess, and sadly shake your head in despair. Violence is never the answer.  Simple communication is enough.

Remember, dogs are much better readers of body language, than us.  Without the benefit of complex words to convey a precise meaning, dogs have developed a very keen sense of reading body language. Your expressions, your tone of voice, even your odor, all of these things your dog uses to intimately care about you, the most important thing in their life, the giver of toys, food, leash walks, and love. Your dog probably knows you better than anyone, especially that roommate! And dogs are not encumbered by worrying about yesterday, or tomorrow, or a few hours ago, they have forgiven and forgotten, and are ready to enjoy the next moments of life with you. Which is something we can probably all learn from a little bit.

So, the first step is be yourself! Tell your dog how you feel! By literally verbalizing WHY what they did was so hurtful to you, right now as soon as you discover the situation. No of course they don’t understand your words. But don’t clean up the mess in silent anguish. The whole time “explain” to the dog exactly what what they did was such a big deal to you.  That was my homework I worked hours on. That was my grandmother’s antique rug you pooped on. I  worked for a whole month to pay for those shoes! You are not nearly as good at interpreting  body language as dogs are, however, when we as humans ‘verbalize’ what we are feeling, we cannot help but express ourselves in our body language, and our dogs CAN understand that.  So you will be teaching your dog something about you, while all the neighbors think your nuts because you are talking to a dog…

However, will that be enough to make sure it does not happen again? Maybe. This will vary by age, breed, and relationship. Some dogs (and people) are so sensitive and in-tune to each other, that just this one act, ‘talking’ about the problem, is enough to keep it from happening again. This is the however, the exception, and not the rule. With a puppy you have to assume, that although they will understand there is some momentary displeasure in your relationship, the motivation to chew that thing up at the time (my gums are itchy), the anguish they feel at the loss your presence (will you ever come back to me), their need to eliminate the pressure in their bladder, is more powerful than some nebulous repercussions in the future. Recall that whole ‘living in the now” thing they are so good at, and that we could all probably learn from a little.

So what can you do, besides clean up the mess and talk to yourself?

Remember one very simple principal in dog training,

if there is something that is happening, that you don’t want it to happen, then you can’t let it happen.

Ok brilliant, thanks a lot. How do I do that? Brainstorm and think of a realistic solution for your individual situation.  Put the pup in her crate with a favorite chew toy, install a camera system in the home and monitor them (rush in to catch them in the act), leave them out in the yard when you are not home, confine them to the kitchen, never leave them alone, install baby gates, clean up everything they could possibly want to tear up, hire a pet sitter, take them with you, etc.  One of these, or none of these and something else,  will be the right answer for you and your dog.

Puppies outgrow many of these behaviors in time, as they mature. The problem is that each and every time they pup makes a bad choice, and get some sort of reward for it (my bladder is less uncomfortable, my teeth itch less, my frustration is less because I took it out on your notebook), they usually have to be faced with,  and choose NOT to repeat that same behavior, at least 10 TIMES to unlearn what they learned was a pleasant thing! Imagine that you got free candy from a vending machine one time. You are likely to try to again, probably a few times, to see if it you might get that lucky again. Your pup is the same way. So, if  something happens, that you don’t want it to, again,  see the one and only rule above. If you are still frustrated, hire a positive dog trainer. Simple as that, results guaranteed.

Without a complex spoken language to communicate with our animals, and a strong sense of living in the now,  we have to keep it as simple and black and white as possible. This makes the for the easiest, fastest, least expensive (no need to buy new shoes), safest (no chewed up electric wires), healthiest and most positive type of training one can do (think, no negative consequences because the bad thing does not happen again).

You have treated your beloved family member with kindness and respect, you have preserved, and even enhanced, the bond that you share, and, you have tapped into the best science has to offer about how animals learn and think, and you can rest assured there is no better, kinder, gentler, faster way to teach your loved one.  It really is, just that simple.

On that note, I am DrQ, and the rest, is up to you!