ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: Just dropped off my 10-year-old schipperke for teeth cleaning. Sounds easy, but I worry about the anesthetic. I promise to keep her teeth clean from now on! So how often should I brush them?
Dr. Nichol: Caring for your schipperke’s health – every bit of it – will keep her feeling better and living longer. If you’re patient you can teach her to enjoy tooth brushing with toothpaste that’s made-for-dogs. C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste can be safely swallowed; in fact, that’s part of the bargain. Your pupster can choose from poultry, malt, beef, seafood or vanilla-mint flavors. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Maybe we’re missing out.
In order to get buy-in you’ll need to make it fun and not inadvertently trigger your girl’s fear. Rather than approaching and leaning over her with that stick in your hand you can squat a few feet away and lure her to you with a dab of tasty paste on her special canine toothbrush. After she’s tried a few licks, pull it back for a couple of seconds and then hold it near her mouth again, embellished with another little glob of paste. Let her relish it briefly and repeat for a few minutes during two relaxed sessions daily. That’s all. Too much training reduces motivation.
It won’t be long before your dog is ready for you to slowly start brushing the fronts of her front teeth. After practicing this routine a few times you can advance the brush under her lips so you can clean the sides of the teeth toward the back of her mouth. Her choppers will need brushing only once daily but she’ll want to play this game often. Dogs only accumulate plaque and tartar on the outside surfaces of their teeth. You can do a thorough job of caring for your girl’s pearly whites in only a few minutes a day.
Dental cleaning will still be necessary but a lot less often. You are not alone; we are all concerned about anesthetic safety. We monitor pets carefully while supporting their blood pressure during dental cleaning. At-home preventive care, on the other hand, is less stressful and it’s cheaper.
Dr. Jeff Nichol provides pet behavior consultations in-person and virtually by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.