It’s peculiar and very unpleasant to be sitting and writing an article while listening to the proceeds of your work go down the drain. Literally.
It started with a leaky faucet in my kitchen. It would be an easy fix, I figured, an extra expense, sure, but a manageable one. The plumbers came, agreed it was a straightforward job that could be accomplished within the one-hour minimum they charge for a visit.
That was before the old pipe broke (or, as I contend, before the plumbers broke the old pipe).
Three hours and a great deal of hammering and cursing later, I was left with a huge hole in my wall — “We don’t do drywall” — and a huge bill.
True, the faucet doesn’t drip anymore.
What does this have to do with Frankie and guilt-free dog blogging, you may wonder? I always think of freelance jobs in terms of what they will pay for — the utility bills, for example, or my health and car insurance payments. I try to budget, but can’t anticipate expenses like the aforementioned plumbing disaster. Or Frankie’s diabetes and the illnesses that suddenly strike him– and that the health insurance I don’t have doesn’t cover (see Health insurance for pets? Hell, yes!)
Which brings me to the topic of my last post, dental care. Can I really justify a professional teeth cleaning for Frankie, no matter how much I would like to provide it — and how important I think it is?
Yes, there are organizations that help out with expenses for people in financial straits — my pal Mary Haight of Dancing Dog Blog provided several of them in the comments section of that post — but I can’t legitimately count myself among them, especially when it comes to prophylactic, as opposed to essential care. I have a savings account. I have a gym membership. I have cable TV.
Am I expected to dip into the former or forgo the last two for Frankie’s dental care? What’s a concerned dog owner to do?
Where do I draw the line? Where do you?
36 thoughts on “The cost of dog care: Where do you draw a line?”
Tough question to answer and there is no one right answer. (BTW, sorry you have a hole in your wall, but I guess overall that a lesser evil than a leak.)
Since, for me, “just a dog” doesn’t figure into how I prioritize things, I often find I cut back on expenses for myself, especially the discretionary ones–I don’t need lattes, or new clothes, or gadgets, or stuff like that. I haven’t had to choose between cable (also a discretionary expense) and vet care, but I’m pretty sure I’d choose the vet care and watch stuff online or read more. I’d also search my house and closets for things to sell. I did that once (and that’s the problem, for me anyway, since i don’t accumulate stuff at the rate i used too, it’s a one to two time at the most money raiser) and came up with almost $2000.
Of course quality of life matters a lot when I think about heroic treatments for my dogs and eventually for myself. As with my last dog whose kidney’s were failing, there weren’t really any good choices so I did 24/7 hospice care for her for the last few weeks of her life.
But, the issue of preventative care is different. That’s really important to me. I go to considerable lengths and expense to stay ahead of the curve with Ms. Sadie mainly because she had SO many physical problems her first year of life including a bout of pneumonia that nearly killed her. That scared the shi-t out of me. And, we are having success. Sadie has a problem from time to time but nothing chronic. And, who knows? Maybe she would be fine without all the probiotics, and annual blood tests, and supplements, and fresh food diet. It might all be overkill and wasted money. But, I feel like I’m DOING something and that makes me feel good and I worry less. That’s got to be worth something.
What if Sadie and I were both facing medical expenses that were beyond my budget? I am thankful to no have faced this so far. But, I think I would try to balance our needs rather than choose one over the other. But, honestly, I don’t know what I would do if and when that particular reality bites.
I’m curious to read how others respond. I think you ask a very thought provoking question.
Thanks for your thoughtful response, Deborah. Yes, this is definitely a “just a dog”-free zone. If it wasn’t also a self-proclaimed guilt-free zone I might feel guilty about not even contemplating giving up cable. You, of all dog owners, spend as much, if not more time worrying about/caring for Sadie as I spend with Frankie so I would be tempted to think my lack of willingness to give up watching my favorite TV shows from the comfort of my couch was selfish.
But you bring up an important point: preventative care gives you peace of mind. And that’s worth a lot of money too!
We struggled with this particularly before we euthanized our ailing dog last year. There were treatments and meds available that would have prolonged his life, and yes, we could’ve use a credit card and gone into debt to do this. But, given that my husband was a new hire at is company after being laid off at the last company; that we were credit card debt free & didn’t want to be saddled with any debt in the event of another job loss; that I struggled weekly to stay within our grocery budget and still feed our human family a reasonably healthy diet; that I’ve given up buying new clothes, make up, etc (as an ex-hairdresser, this is a major sacrifice), so that we can have family outings and occasional fun, given all those factors, we chose not to proceed with medical treatment and euthanize when his quality of life was gone. Knowing that we COULD have done more for our dog made the decision much, much more agonizing and guilt laden.
Cathy, as you point out, your dog was ailing, without a good quality of life. And financial security for your family was at stake. It sounds to me like you sacrificed all you could sacrifice within reason — and going into credit card debt isn’t reasonable. You gave your dog a wonderful home while he was able to enjoy it, and you ensured that your family’s health and security weren’t at risk. That’s all you could have been expected to do, and kudos to you for doing it.
Two years ago, jersey was hit by a car and her front leg was broken. The surgery and follow-up care was $3000 and thankfully we had the money to pay for it. but it got me looking into pet insurance, which i found out was totally BS.
a basic, non-descript plan, for $120 a year will cover $1500 of paying for an accident like a broken leg, but no illness coverage.
a “medium” value plan for $290 a year will cover $2500 of accident care and $2500 of illness care over the pet’s life
a “choice” plan for $500 a year will cover $2500 of accident care and $2500 of ilness care per year.
the “ultra” plan for $620 per year will cover $5000 of accident care and $5000 of illness care per year.
with the basic premium your paying $120 a year to help pay for an accident that *might* happen. if something basic happens, like your dog gets in a fight and needs stitches or whatever, it will probably cost a few hundred dollars. it that worth it to pay a preminum to some insurance company? if you bank that money and collect interest, you would be better off. i’m not ever going to get started on the more expensive plans!
frankly, when most dogs get hit by a car, they get killed outright, jersey just got lucky. if you dog gets cancer, most treatments prolong their lives by a few months. yeah, you can spend thousands of dollars on vet care, but to what end? ultimately you have to look at the animals quality of life. will this treatment make my dog’s life better or am i just keeping my dog around for my own selfish reasons?
i would personally spend whatever i could on keeping my dog well and healthy, but sometimes you just have to think of your animals’ well being and just let go.
Thanks for your take on this, but you seem to have undercut your own point with your stats: If you’d gotten the medium value plan for $290 you would have saved $2700, right? (assuming that the cost of the accident was divided up between surgery and illness care). I’m not sure how many plans you researched, but I looked into them out of curiosity (and to beat myself up) when Frankie got diabetes and I know I would have saved a bundle on bloodwork and medication. Quality of life? As long as I give him insulin, Frankie’s a happy, healthy pup.
Re: car accidents: Lots of dogs get lucky like your Jersey. And lots of dogs recover from cancer too. I agree that it’s selfish to keep an ailing dog around but veterinary medicine has made enormous strides.
I agree that, in theory, it would be great to set aside money in a savings account to pay for basics. But I never do that for my own health insurance — as the insurance companies bank on — and didn’t change my behavior when I got a dog.
We adopted Zack (deaf Dal) in 2005. From 2005 to his passing this past August I probably spent in the neighborhood of $10K on various medical treatments for him. I would have spent $20K if he had needed it, and I had it.
In the last 9 months or so, my financial health has taken a turn – not for the better. Sweety, my 141/2 year old Border Collie has periodontal disease which the vet says will cost about $1000 for cleaning and probably a few extractions. I just don’t have the money, it I feel guilty as hell about it! At the moment, I’m living a pretty basic existence, no cable tv to give up etc., but I still feel enormously guilty.
Periodontal disease is pretty much a moot point if you feed your dogs raw meaty bones early enough and often enough. Even though I’ve been feeding Sweety “raw” since 2004, until recently I’ve only recently and regularly included edible bones in her diet. So I beat myself up over that too. I feel like I’ve probably cheated her out of a few good years. =(
As for pet insurance, I looked into it too back in 2005. Sweety was 10 at that time, and being a “senior”, I think the plan I looked at was about $80/mnth, plus something like a $500 deductible per health issue if something happened.
If I could though, I’d spend whatever was required to keep my dogs healthy if that meant they could still enjoy a quality life.
Jim, remember, this is a guilt free zone — and no woulda, coulda, shouldas! There’s no question that you’re doing the best you can by your dogs, given financial limitations; and “best” is always an evolving standard as we learn more and more.
Yes, the problem with health insurance is that you have to hop on to that bandwagon early. I probably could have squeaked in when I first adopted Frankie, since he was about 5, but I’d never heard of health insurance then.
I’m surprised dental care is so expensive in Canada. Even in Canadian dollars that’s high!
Oops, sorry for violating the guilt free zone – I feel so guilty now. =P
$1000 seemed high to me too, I was expecting $500 or so, which to me still seems high!
My 12 year old greyhound gets a monthly acupuncture treatment + cold laser therapy for spinal stenosis/arthritis. She also takes 300 mg of doxyclycline a day + steroidal eyedrops 2x a day for her uveitis. Plus she eats premium dog food/treats and takes a probiotic. I figure the above alone costs me around $120 to $150/month. Fortunately, her drugs are cheaper at Costco than at Walgreens where they were more than double the price.
Her quality of life is good. She’s active (for a greyhound), she’s loving, she loves to eat, she’s curious. To me it’s worth it.
I do without. I have basic cable TV and a 18 year old TV. I don’t go to plays or concerts. I don’t have anything beyond the basic electronics and no iphone or ipod or whatever is the latest toy. I rarely go clothes shopping except to 2nd hand stores. I never take myself to the doctor but do go to the dentist. I don’t travel much anymore. I pick and choose what’s important to me. Who cares? This is the new economy thrift chic.
My other greyhound lived to be 12.5. In the last year of his life, I spent $6k on him. I won’t be doing that with Lily. At 12, she has already outlived the majority of greyhounds.
Last year she wasn’t doing so well but she bounced back into vitality. It cost a lot to get her uveitis under control but since there was improvement, I’ll leave it at that.
We take each day at a time. I’m trying to be pragmatic.
As I can personally attest, Karyn not only does right by Lily the diva dog (who is pictured on this blog — see May 19 post), but also by other greyhounds. For just a bit of what she does, see her Greyhound Injury Fund Blog, http://greyhoundinjuryfund.wordpress.com/
Yes, this whole discussion about financial limits is something I’ve been thinking about and now Edie you’ve given me more fodder for a blog.
Very sorry those pet funds did not fit. I think Care Credit is for those who don’t need credit (job, assets, money in bank and perfect credit someone remarked a couple of years ago). What about vet schools of dentistry–they have programs for people for very little cost, why not dogs?
I remember when I came home to find Dickens had bloated. I had a terrible hail and rain storm to drive through for 40 minutes to the emergency vet…he was already in a coma. I was of course hysterical, but tried to remain calm enough to drive (and drive and drive).
When I got there, the vet on duty said Dickens didn’t have much time and she would have to operate to try to save him–it would cost $3000. I knew the chances of revival were slim to none–he had lost nearly 20% of his weight recently and was already well on his way out of this world. I declined treatment. The woman behind the desk told me in a soft voice I had made the right decision. And I knew it wasn’t just the thing they say. But then of course I felt that I had waited too long to let him go and the pain of bloat could have been avoided.
These things are haunting but it’s our nature to try to learn from our mistakes. Yet we also believe we can control things we cannot, and that results in guilt. It’s been my experience that where I draw the line at any given time changes with the circumstances. The only thing that doesn’t change is working within my values.
The problem today is different–a few years ago we could go get a second job to pay for some needed but unaffordable expense. Now you can’t even get a day job, let alone two.
Mary, that experience with Dickens sounds horrendous. Of course you did the right thing letting him go that night. And it doesn’t sound like you waited too long — weight loss is not a quality of life issue — and it’s impossible to anticipate bloat.
You are far more optimistic about human nature than I am; I’m with you on the part about believing we can control things. That it’s our nature to try to learn from our mistakes… not so much (can you say Afghanistan?). But working in your values… yes! I am often moved by the way people who comment here, not only on this post but also throughout the blog, care and sacrifice for their dogs. I’ve always said all you can be expected to do is your best, and so many people here raise that “best” bar very, very high.
I would like to see more people come from a guilt-free zone, like the one you set up on your site. As you say, Edie, there are no shoulda – coulda – woulda’s … ever. You can’t change the past, you can’t predict the future – you only have the present. But enough philosophy.
I think the answer to your post title is “it depends.” If your pet is “just a pet,” those people will easily draw the line on medical care dollars spent and do so, most likely, regardless of their financial status. If your pet “is a kid” or “one of your children,” those people will find it in their ability to do whatever they can, given their financial status.
We’ve experienced significant vet bills for both our dogs. Luckily, financial issues were never a factor we had to consider. And I pray that day will never come. But I would gladly trade cable TV for either one of our boys’ lives. Whatever you do is your decision. We’ll still love you!
I see what’s happening here; you guys (and I’m including several gals who brought up the topic) are trying to push me out of my guilt-free bubble and get me to give up my cable TV. It won’t work.
— Every month, I shell out a bundle for Frankie’s insulin, test strips, needles, and probiotics — not to mention his high-quality food.
— Every day I get up at 5:30a.m. to collect Frankie’s pee, test it, feed him and give him his insulin shot; every evening, I am home to repeat the process between 5 and 6pm, the prescribed 12 hours later. I’ve turned down many a social event — even free food! — because my schedule revolves around being home for Frankie. Pre-diabetes, I could always find someone to put out dinner for him. Getting someone to come over and give him an insulin shot… not so simple!
Given the restrictions on my social life and the fact that I sit and stare at the computer all day in order to eke out my meager living and thus don’t want to watch TV in the same upright position, would you really begrudge me kicking back on my couch to watch Mad Men? The Closer?
Would you want me to start to resent poor diabetic Frankie?
I think not.
This is a tough one. Faced with dogs who have always had medical problems, and not always believing in the vet’s idea of preventative care, I’ve thought long and hard about these issues. I do get them checked once a year, buy their thyroid medicine and special food, arthritis tabs, but they don’t get vaccinations (titers instead). One of my dogs gets chronic UTIs and crystals. I am on a fixed income. Most of it goes to her care. But I promised myself I would be responsible. I don’t have cable, can’t work (on SSDI) except for dog training, which doesn’t bring in big bucks, but the amount of love and companionship these dogs give me is phenomenal and worth it. I save money where I can. No clothes, events, nothing bought new. Good lifestyle for the planet, too!
I don’t give my dogs meds for their idiosynchrases (Luna has ADHD, now she won’t walk on flooring) and Frisbee has dog aggression. I made up my mind that I can manage those.
I don’t know if this responds to what you’re asking, but it’s what I do for my dogs. Darn that I didn’t get pet insurance…
Absolutely it responds to what I’m asking, Hilary — thank you. Like most others who have answered here, you draw the line pretty far skewed in favor of spending on your dog rather than on yourself.
Just so you — and everyone else — know: I don’t buy new clothes either. But, as I said in my last comment, I’m still not giving up cable!
This is such a tough question, but it’s been really interesting to read about everyone else’s experiences. My shepherd mix Lucas is only 3, but out vet suspects that he was hit by a car as a very young pup and his previous owners didn’t seek medical care (grrrrrr), so now he’s 75-lbs but his pelvic bone is too narrow to support his body. But we had some idea of this when we adopted him, so we knew we’d have the cost of his special diet and daily supplements. We built that into our budget, making little decisions (say, eating out only once/week) to cover the cost.
My other dog, a 6-yr-old bully mix named Emmett, developed cancer last fall. We were faced with a lot of very expensive medical choices to make for him. These unexpected choices are the toughest, I think, to deal with. We were presented with three treatment options that ranged from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. While we debated our options, I hated the fact that money even factored into the discussion. I sat there with Emmett on my lap discussing cost of treatment, as if I could put a price on him, on his health. In the end, we opted for the middle treatment, which wasn’t as aggressive as possible but it wasn’t the least aggressive. The fact that it was still a financial stretch for us made me feel less guilty. Which is silly. I know.
So where do I draw the line? I haven’t given up my cable either, but I have found a ton of ways to cut back on their overall expenses to make up for (some of) their medical expenses: routine vaccinations at the local shelter instead of the vet (saves $12 per shot, per dog!), substituting a bit of their dinner with vegetables, grooming them myself, etc. So I guess I look at it as more of a sliding scale… I’m willing to spend as much as I can, and if I can make cutbacks in some areas, then I can put more toward their medical expenses.
Maggie, thanks for participating in this discussion. Just curious: Was– is — insurance an option, especially for your younger dog?
The veggies are a great addition to your dog’s diet; no sacrifice of quality there. And I too groom Frankie; I like the disheveled look and he never berates me if I give him a bad haircut!
My mother is currently going through the same thing with our ancient dachshunds who have been in our family for 17 years. Each time they’re boarded at the vet, she is guilt-ridden by all of the things she has to pass up — dental care, bloodwork, et. al.
But the way I justify it for her? They have lived a fully healthy, happy, LONG life. Of course, if we had extra money laying around, it would be wonderful to try and keep that going for them. But for now, any extra expenditures would probably just mean dragging out their lives for the sake of her conscience. Would Heidi and Fritzie choose to live another year, if they could call the shots? I don’t think they would. I think that at this point, all we can do is make their remaining months (which is probably how much it will be) comfortable.
At the end of the day (and I know this argument only applies to geriatrics), an extra thousand dollars in the hole may give them another three months, or even another year. But is it really worth it to them? I don’t think it is.
If dogs could make end-of-life decisions for themselves, I’m sure they’d be eminently sensible about it. They are, after all, the ultimate pragmatists. So I agree: those two doxies, after 17 years of loving care, wouldn’t want your mother to prolong their lives for the sake of some uncomfortable — and costly for your mother — months.
Glad to join the discussion. Just discovered your blog via Twitter!
As for insurance… We looked into it around the time we adopted Lucas but were discouraged by the couple places we contacted. They basically said he had a pre-existing condition, which wouldn’t be covered. I’d love to look into other options if anyone has a good suggestion or has had a good experience with a particular insurer!
Ah, Twitter — my favorite place for making doggie friends. So glad you found me there!
I’m afraid I don’t have any specific recommendations about insurance since I missed that boat… but maybe others have some ideas?
You bring up such a good point. Thank goodness our pets only know what ‘is’, and have no notions of what should be or could be. Your mom’s Dauschunds & my Buddy knew they they were loved, and would most likely be disappointed that we’ve wasted even a moment of a perfectly good life being miserable on their account. So there you have it Edie – your dog wants you to be happy & keep the cable!
On that note, and to the larger point of drawing the line, the place we ultimately came to was that of balance. When considering our course of action for Buddy, we felt that whatever we did needed to be fair to the family as an entire unit. I see a lot of people making sacrifices for their pets – as it should be. But I wonder if some sacrifices are just too painful, (i.e., cable loss), and end up causing more hurt than they do to help??
Thank you, Cathy, for this second thoughtful post…and for giving me permission to keep my cable.
I am sorry so many posters decided to jump on your (Edie’s) possession of cable. Until two years ago, I counted myself among the ”virtuous”people who had never had it and didn’t want it. Then I had a nephew come stay with me who has MS and is unable to do anything but watch TV, and I got a lot more understanding. I now juggle bills to get to keep my satellite, because my physical limitations make it impossible to spend all of my leisure time with a book, or macrameing, or whatever one is supposed to do instead. You probably should have mentioned that your TV is ancient and you don’t even own a DVD player!
My own dogs are definitely my family. But I have to choose what I can do for them each month, just as I have to choose which of my prescriptions I can afford to have filled. When the two conflict, I would rather buy 35 pounds of top-quality kibble for them than sleeping pills for me.
I have also been through the grief and sheer pain of deciding not to seek the most heroic of treatment for the dog who I loved more than myself, but I think that is really another decision than the one Edie is grappling with. This is partly the high cost of ordinary vet care in an economy that has been unkind to many occupations, including that of freelance writers. One issue I don’t see mentioned here is that vets are going corporate, and corporate owners don’t see the value in extending credit to clients, no matter how long-term and loyal that client may be.
I have learned to do most routine care myself — grooming, trimming nails, administering medication, wound care. I have been postponing everything else except emergency care.
Yes, Edie, you do need to get Frankie’s teeth cleaned. But you don’t need to have it done this moment, or even this month. Delaying the cleaning while you get over your plumbing crisis is not going to ruin Frankie’s health or happiness.
Speaking of the plumbing crisis — I am dying to know if you have had a little chat with the owner of the plumbing company. In nearly 33 years (ACK!) of home ownership, I have never had a repair person simply tear a hole in the wall and leave it. If the plumbers can’t do simple drywall repair, they should have on tap a handyman who will take care of it.
Thank you, Rebecca (a.k.a Frankie’s rescuer and now savior of my cable)! In the interests of full disclosure — something you might have guessed because of the allusion to my ancient TV and lack of DVD player — Rebecca has a vested interest in my holding on to my cable, even though she has her own. We have spent many an evening together eating Indian food and watching UnderDog to Wonderdog and other Animal Planet shows. (Digression — did anyone else watch that weird new pet psychic show? We were underwhelmed, though we did get a few good laughs.)
Anyway, Rebecca, next time we get together (soon!), I’ll tell you the full story of my plumbing woes. I’ve still got that extra bottle of bubbly left over from your last visit that needs to be polished off (yes, it’s burning a hole in my refrigerator, beckoning me, and many other temptation cliches).
You’re welcome. I did think of leaving a reply about how much my dogs enjoy cable, but the truth is that only one of the five seems to watch TV when it’s on (as opposed to Teddy, my late fox terrier, who knew how to use the remote). And, being a pointer, she is a lot more interested in the wild critters on nature shows than picking up tips on dog grooming. This may need its own bloggie, but I am wondering what kind of experience with TV and even radio other dog people have had. Or am I just wasting electricity when I leave the TV on when I leave the house to go eat Indian food with Edie?
Welcome Oliver the puggle; glad you like the site.
As for your question, Rebecca… well, that definitely would make a good future post!
I really am at a loss…….my 14 year old silkie has been to (3) different vets in the San Diego area. ALL of this to get her cleared to see a very expensive dental vet….and she is not even cleared for that yet. They’re holding an ultrasound over my head. So, for roughly $1800 I’m not even at the dentist for Olympia! In frustration, I asked if I could sign a waiver to allow anasthesia for my senior Olympia. I was informed that I can sign an AMA (against medical advice) form “possibly”. Leave it to California to be such a litigious state that vets care more about lawsuits than pet care. My budget is gone, what do I do now?
I’m so sorry to hear this. What a terribly frustrating situation. I don’t have any answers. I know how crucial dental care is; not getting proper care can leave your dog in pain and make it difficult to eat, cause dangerous levels of bacteria, etc., etc. At the same time, this seems to have escalated to an impossible level. Maybe it would be worth investing in a bit of (inexpensive) professional online advice; I know and trust this site: http://www.vetlive.com/
Best of luck!
I really have a strong sense of connection with all of those who have commented, and you as well Eddie.
A few years ago I got an apple head Chihuahua (His name is Baby), who was and still is as a cute as a button! I was going to school full time with no type of scholarship or help from anything and paying cash and in full every semester. I figured I could afford having a companion around. But I did not anticipate what his teeth would look like when I got him. When I adopted him, his teeth were a horrible site. I felt extremely guilty and upset that I could only afford annual shots ($65- even that was a stretch) and dog food for him (Pedigree). I’ve now had him for a couple years now and have yet to give him the dental care I know he deserves. I could barely pay for mine and my husband’s life; we do not have any insurance what’s so ever, and often rely on over the counter medication to heal ourselves whenever we got sick. My father has gladly taken us into his home for a little bit, without rent so we can save our money.
But last night I had a horrible scare with Baby, as he was very bloated, crying and in pain. My husband and I rushed him into the Animal hospital and he was checked out. Thankfully, he only had an upset stomach. The vet gave us options, like an overnight hospital stay and some tests to be run like blood work and x-rays. This all would cost at $500-which we do not have. I had to just buy some medication from the vet and take him home with me. I felt extremely happy that Baby was just having an upset stomach, but it got me thinking. His teeth are in bad shape, and that could really be expensive to put him under. What does a dog owner do? I love my dog and he is my everything. But does that make me a bad owner that I can’t give him the dental peace he needs?
My husband and I only have one car, we do not have insurance of any kind, and we do not go clothing shopping either. We are living with my father, rent-free and we are trying to get on our feet and save for a rainy day. It is a hard time for us, but we are getting by. Should Baby suffer because of us? We love him dearly, but just like the title of this blog, will Baby hate me?
No, Baby will not hate you. My title is ironic because, like you, many people worry about this kind of thing. You are doing the best you can and of course Baby loves you. It certainly would be good to get her teeth cleaned but if you can’t afford it, you can’t. You might call around to local humane societies to see if they have inexpensive dental treatment clinics or can suggest some options. And in the meantime, if you try to brush baby’s teeth (with canine toothpaste, not the human kind) that would be a start.