I almost flipped when I returned to my car to find my newly-adopted beagle Sugar eating my pack of mint-flavored tooth flossers.
Perhaps she actually wanted clean teeth? That would be a first. No dog of mine has ever wanted anything to do with getting his or her teeth brushed--chicken-flavored toothpaste or not.
How about you -- how often do you brush teeth? Twice a day, everyday? Promise?
My six-year old son says he brushes his teeth, too. Are you brushing, or brushing?
I have only met one person who told me that she brushes her dog’s teeth everyday. I looked at her like she had six heads.
Yes, she was an empty nester and had an only dog—apparently with clean teeth. Who else would have the time, patience or dedication? (I never did bother checking the dog.)
In fact, the American Veterinary Dental Society says that more than 80% of dogs show some stage of dental disease by age three. That’s pretty bad.
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Although humans fear the stigma of halitosis, dogs certainly don’t care, and usually their humans don’t either.
But that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Unlike in humans, bad doggie dental care can kill. No not you, your dog.
This is what happens:
1.) Like with us, old food turns into tarter.
2.) The tarter builds up along the gums and below the gum line—which can’t be seen.
3.) The tarter collects bacteria, which gets released into the gums and its blood supply--poisoning the dog over time.
4.) The bacteria build in the dog’s body, spreading into the heart, the kidneys and throughout. Eventually it can overwhelm the dog’s systems.
So that’s kind of exciting, right? You have to worry about your dog being stolen, running away, getting hit by a car—and brushing it’s teeth?
I decided to watch a web video about exactly how I was supposed to brush my dog’s teeth. I almost died myself—laughing.
No harried, working mother, with pets and kids like me could it pull off on a weekly basis—much less a daily one.
Maybe if we had nannies, chefs, and/or housecleaners. But if I had all that I would be out shopping and getting my nails done—not brushing my dog’s teeth.
That’s why part of where Americans are throwing their $50 billion dollars spent this year on pet products is to tackle this fearsome problem.
They either spend $150 getting their pet anesthetized and having their teeth cleaned, or they spend $150 by filling up their homes with tooth brushing devices like tooth cleaning gel, a “chew-it-yourself” dental bone, or treats that clean teeth just be being chewed.
Although these tools might help a little, what they really do is make dog owners feel like they are doing something--but they don’t do the job of a good professional cleaning.
I’ve long thrown out my doggie dental detritus, and opted to go to the professionals. I admit I feel a pang of guilt when I pass off my little one to get anesthetized, but that pang has never been stronger than my desire not to brush his teeth every day.
What’s even worse, when he comes out of the doctor’s office walking a little wobbly part of me thinks it’s kind of funny. Bad mommy!
Jennifer Quasha is a writer and most recently the co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Canine Companions" and "Chicken Soup of the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Feline Family Members." Check out her website at www.jenniferquasha.com.