Zen and the Art of Dog

Confessions of a Dog Owner: I Don’t Brush My Dogs’ Teeth

We are not veterinarians and this is not health advice. This is just our real life experience of caring for our own dogs. We have 3 large dogs (50+lbs) and 2 young children (2.5 years old and 7 months old). We never really thought about dog’s oral hygiene until we moved to a different state and started seeing a new vet. At that time, we only had our husky mix Denver. She recommended that we get his teeth cleaned for a slew of reasons including keeping him healthy, reducing risk of tooth loss, etc.

Our previous vet was an old school Polish guy that just did the basics every year. He would check Denver’s teeth but never brought up teeth cleaning. We researched it and weighed the pros and cons. One of the things to consider about this procedure is that your dog has to be put under anesthesia which can be very risky depending on your dog’s age and health. We decided to proceed with the teeth cleaning.

They did a blood draw to check that he was healthy enough to go under anesthesia (even with the blood check, there is always risk with anesthesia). He was cleared and we scheduled a date for them to clean his teeth. They monitored him for a few hours after the cleaning and we picked up a loopy Denver later that same day. About $700 and 3 vet visits later (check up, blood draw, cleaning), his teeth were absolutely sparkling. This ended up being a little pricier than just the cleaning because they realized he had a cracked tooth while he was under and they extracted it. Was it worth it? For our peace of mind at the time, yes. But did it last? No. For a little while, we did try to brush his teeth with doggie toothpaste which he gladly lapped up. Did it last? No. Brushing your 50+lb dog’s teeth is akin to wrestling with an alligator.

We added more dogs and then kids to the mix and toothbrushing really went out the window. We actually started giving the dogs rawhide treats (these are the ones we get) to help them clean their teeth and keep them strong.

People have mixed opinions on rawhide so do your own research and decide what you are comfortable with. We eventually had to stop giving Denver rawhide treats because of his sensitive stomach- he was having trouble digesting them. If he needs more dental cleaning in the future, that is something we have set aside funds for. In the meantime, this is what works best for us and our family.

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