This blog may be a guilt-free zone, but I also try to be honest here. In the interests of providing a cautionary tale… let the self-flagellation begin.

In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, I recently blogged about how essential it was to get your dog’s teeth checked professionally, especially small dogs who are prone to periodontal disease. I didn’t mention that, although professional care is important,ย  your dog’s teeth need to be brushed too.

I didn’t mention it because I hadn’t been doing it and I felt terrible.

I had abundant excuses.ย  My favorite: I knew I needed to get Frankie’s teeth cleaned at the vet and brushing would have been ineffective in removing the tartar buildup before then.We’re talking extended procrastination. When I was at the vet this past September, he stressed that it was time for a professional cleaning. But it wasn’t until discounts were offered during this Pet Dental Health month that I felt I could afford it.

And it wasn’t until I finally made the appointment that I looked around Frankie’s mouth. Which is when noticed this thing on his gum, under his upper lip.

It wasn’t small, but it was white and looked like an infection, so I decided not to stress about it. Too much. But I made a pre-cleaning appointment with my vet in case Frankie might need a round of antibiotics.

The vet didn’t go along with my infection diagnosis — although he didn’t rule it out. He did rule out the scary types of cancer like melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. And although a biopsy was required, he said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the unidentified object’s removal — under anesthesia during the cleaning — would take care of the problem, whatever it was. But he said, “In the mouth and anus you always have to be concerned.”

So I’m officially concerned.

The cleaning and biopsy will take place on March 2. Send good vibes, healing mojo… whatever you believe in. I’ll report back.

Now that I’ve convinced you — I have, haven’t I? — that you need to brush your dog’s teeth, here’s a demonstration:


39 thoughts on “Another reason to brush your dog’s teeth”

  1. I can totally relate! Getting inside my pugs’ mangled little mouths is impossible so I just plan on annual professional cleanings (in Feb because of the discount of course!). And don’t feel bad…my groomer had to show me an abcess in one of their mouths because I hadn’t caught it due to lack of brushing. Oops! ๐Ÿ™‚ Sending Frankie lots of good vibes!

  2. I’m sorry to hear that something funny turned up in Frankie’s mouth. I hope it’s a quick and easy thing to take care of.

    I never thought much about animal dentistry until my friend took her 16 year old cat for a cleaning under anesthetic. Her cat had become increasingly cranky over the years and my friend assumed it was just old age.

    After the cleaning and a few pulled teeth, kitty was brand new. She became more affectionate and much happier. I was amazed.

    Because our pets don’t often complain, it’s hard for us to know what’s bothering them. That’s why we need the routine maintenance.

    BTW, the video was terrific!

    1. Thanks, Pamela. I can’t tell you how many times people have said, “Why would you want to subject an old dog/cat to anesthesia?” Um, because — as you say — they may be in pain, and also because it’s the older ones who need to worry most about their systems being bombarded by bacteria.

      Glad you liked the video. I thought it was pretty great too.

    1. Thanks for telling me this! I’d hate to have a gratuitous guilt-fest. I’m glad I inspired someone to action.

  3. I *do* brush my dog’s teeth, but even so, it’s in and out and done. Neither of us particularly like doing it, so I don’t poke around looking at her gums. I don’t know that I would have caught a funny lump any sooner than you would have, so go easy on yourself, okay? And I hope Frankie’s just fine.

  4. I get such a kick out of the way these videos always show a dog holding still to have his teeth brushed. I’ve been brushing Miro’s teeth since he was a baby. He likes it so much that he wriggles the whole time and really gets that tongue out there (and in my way) trying to lick the toothpaste. I think anyone making a “brush your dog’s teeth” video should also show dogs who do not sit placidly. It’s still possible to brush the teeth; but the reality is, it’s not always easy and that could be a reason why people give up.

    1. Thanks for that input — good point! One of my many excuses for not brushing Frankie’s teeth is the wriggling — but to get away, NOT out of pleasure — factor.

      Good for you for starting your dental care early!

  5. Good luck with the cleaning! I’m sure that it’s just an abcess or maybe some sort of irritation that looks scary, but isn’t a big deal. I’m sending healthy and happy doggie vibes your way.

  6. I’ll send you some of my special healing vibes! I know you’ll be fine. You are a healthy happy dog! Thanks for the video on tooth brushing. I’ve tasted the chicken toothpaste it’s pretty good. My mom’s been lazy about giving it too me this was really good!
    Great post!

    1. Thank you, Opie — much appreciated. Frankie is a little elderly and not all that healthy, what with having diabetes and all, but if happiness is based on having someone totally devoted to you, he’s on top of the world.

  7. If you hold Daisy – I’ll hold Frankie! ๐Ÿ™‚
    When I was dog-sitting I hosted a large dog – 80-90 lbs? He loved getting his teeth brushed and it was a nightly ritual. He would sit still and bare his teeth while they were brushed. If I was late, he would poke me with his muzzle, sit, and “grin”. Oh Daisy, if only ….. !

    Sending good thoughts, prayer, and tail wags for march 2. Let us know.

    Barbara, humble servant of the Princess Daisy of Alberni

    1. Oh my — what a role model that big dog is. Maybe we could get him to star in a demonstration film…

      Frankie is feeling the wags and vibes…

  8. I’ve been putting it off, too, with a similar excuse of “I’ll wait to start from clean!” but their teeth seemed reasonable and their breath wasn’t bad, so I kept putting a cleaning off. In a recent checkup, the doc identified a new tooth fracture (to add to a previous fracture on the same tooth on the other side of his mouth – the primary molars, I guess). So, my pup had two root canals last week and a cleaning while they were at it. Root canals for dogs – who knew!?! He is 8 and it was his first cleaning. Fortunately, the doc said his mouth was very healthy (no gum issues). We think he’s acting happier after the root canals, as apparently there was “angry pulp” showing which had to have been painful.

    My other pup (age 7) could also use a cleaning and has two dead teeth that the doc recommended root canals and extraction for (one is a K9 that should be saved, the other a non-important front tooth that could be extracted if I prefer). Since it’s not as critical an issue (no pulp showing, hopefully they aren’t painful – he doesn’t act as tho he’s in pain, although I understand it’s nearly impossible to tell), I’m trying to spread out the financial pain!!

    Regardless, the brushing habit is one I’m going to start for both of them each night. Going to take some discipline! (on my part, not theirs…)

    1. I know, I was amazed when I first heard about root canals! Just curious: Do you know what caused the fractures?

      And yes, the financial pain is great. I kept putting off the cleaning appointment because I wanted to see a veterinary dentist for the cleaning, but the bottom line is I can’t afford it.

      And you’re right about the discipline thing. Go figure when in fact it’s just a single short task (but yet another thing to think about).

      1. Not sure about the fractures. The first one was originally categorized as a slab fracture by both the vet and the dentist. It had been there for maybe two years and didn’t seem to bother him. The second fracture on the other side seemed to elevate the issue and was fairly recent. After getting a good look during the procedure, the dentist re-assessed and said that fracture wasn’t really a slab fracture, it involved less mass than that, I think.

        My theories on potential cause: the recent one could have been due to antlers. I bought them since they’re supposed to be good for teeth cleaning, but I understand they can be too hard for some dogs. I think they are too hard for my dog even though he wasn’t too interested after getting all the reachable marrow out of the end, so I thought he was using it appropriately.

        The first fracture I attribute to my 8 yo being a relatively aggressive chewer. If I give him a rawhide or bully his goal is to ingest it as quickly as possible, so I think he bites too hard and before he’s softened things up by gnawing. The dentist said bully’s are in the “gray” area for him on whether they are too hard to be safe. This bummed me out as it’s my treat of choice. I may steam or soak them a bit before giving them, just to make them slightly more malleable.

        My other pup is one of those dogs who carries bones around like a cigar (straight out the front) and goes in and out his dog doors that way then buries and excavates and re-buries, etc. I figure carrying things that way is why he has two dead teeth up front – probably mostly from banging through dog doors with bones sticking out of his mouth.

        1. Thanks for your detailed response — I always wonder about bones (not that Frankie ever particularly liked them unless they had fat on them or marrow in them, which he can’t eat anymore). I had to laugh at your description of your bone cigar-carrying pup — priceless.

          1. Wow– amazing pictures! The canoe one is gorgeous, but I especially like the one with the black & white dog kissing the brown one, who has a long-suffering look on his face.

            I don’t always have the time to be as responsive as I’d like, but one of the best things about blogging is the conversations; I learn a lot from them.

  9. My vet finishes every appointment with a reminder to brush our dog’s teeth. Of course, I don’t even though I know I should. Right now her teeth are perfectly healthy but as she gets older I know this may change. The more we do to prevent future problems, the better. Why do we humans find this so hard?

    I am sorry Frankie has a problem and I really hope it isn’t serious. Maybe if it actually get off my butt and buy my dog a toothbrush, the cosmos will cut you a break. Thanks for sharing this informative video.

    1. Shiva is a larger dog so she may not have a problem. But truth brushing — um, that’s tooth brushing! — is always a good idea.

      Thank you for your good wishes and your magical thinking. A woman after my own heart!

      Glad you liked the video.

  10. Oh Edie. Thank you! I’ve been avoiding blogging about this because I was feeling so guilty for not doing it myself even though I had committed to doing so after a Dogtalk discussion led by Lorie Huston on the dangers of not cleaning your dog’s teeth. I actually made a commitment to doing it starting this week after watching the same video you posted above.

    I hope that Frankie is ok and that the cleaning goes well. It’s always scary whenever something unusual is found. Sending good vibes Frankie’s way.

  11. Hey, where’d the guilt-free zone go;) I am also in that boat that does not brush my dog’s teeth every day….twice a month if I’m lucky. I have the brush, I have the special toothpaste, I’m just a bad dog mom! I do use the gel stuff I reviewed for Tashi’s back teeth, and have more recently used the foam application to keep bacteria down – like doggie mouthwash in a form they can handle. I know that’s good for the gums, especially if they’ve started to loosen from the base of the tooth.

    I’ll be sending out all good thoughts for Frankie’s dental visit and, although I could not tell from your description, that the white lump inside his mouth is nothing more than a canker sore.

    1. Yes, I thought of your post. I’m going to look into all of that… just as soon as I get Frankie’s teeth cleaned!

      Thanks for the good thought. I’m not sure what a doggie canker sore looks like but that would be a good outcome. Hmmm… is that from getting doggie herpes? Has Frankie been prowling around?

  12. Hi Edie, so sorry for the scare and the waiting to find out, I know exactly how that feels. Hugs and good thoughts to both of you. We had a big cancer scare with Jasmine, but it turned not to be cancer at all. So while it is scary, it can be something else. Fingers crossed.

  13. Okay – I’ve got the guilt now. I’ve tried to brush Ty and Buster’s teeth but they both hated it. (I wasn’t fond of it either, perhaps they were picking up my vibes?) I admit, I do not brush their teeth. Perhaps we’ve been lucky, but so far we’ve not had any problems.

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  15. Wow good info and video, I’ve never brushed Dougie’s teeth but I have them checked once a year and he’s fine. I don’t think I could bring myself to brush his teeth! Do hope all is well with Frankie’s little dazzlers.

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