We have just brushed our teeth. It’s more accurate to say that I have just brushed our teeth. And, while I can’t say that Fergus enjoys it that much, he lets me do it and snuggles with me after. It’s not UNpleasant, after all. His doggy toothpaste tastes like beef1.
Yeah, no. This is not how it goes with me and Fergus2. He sits on the bathroom vanity counter politely, but is able to pull a Linda Blair with his wee head as I simultaneously chase his mouth, lift his lip with my left hand and brush as many of his teeth as I can with the little finger brush. I need to find out what the treat is that guy is giving his pup.
Why put us through this daily3 wrestling match, you ask? Just as with humans, pets’ dental health is vitally important to their overall health and longevity. If ignored, gum disease is almost certain to set in as early as age three in a dog4. Just as with humans, gum disease affects a pet’s immunity to disease, can damage their organs (heart, kidneys, liver, etc.), and leads to tooth loss. Let us not forget the chronic bad breath caused by gingivitis. For a mom who lets her puppy give her sloppy kisses on the face, that would not be a trivial consequence.
Vets also recommend an annual, thorough cleaning under anesthesia. Fergus and I haven’t done that yet, but he’ll be two in July and it’s time I give that my attention. For now, he has a beautiful, sparkly-white smile, but I don’t kid myself that my fumbling efforts each morning are adequate to maintain his dental health as well as it should be to make sure he lives a long, healthy and therefore happy little life.
He’s my closest, most adoring companion. It’s the least I can do for us both.
1 So says the packaging, and it smells like beef. Sort of. I’m not tasting it to verify, just sayin’. Also, never use human toothpaste to brush a dog’s teeth. It contains, xylitol (a sweetener) that is poisonous to dogs.
2 Sorry I have no video – it takes all the hands I have just to get Fergus’ teeth brushed.
3 Well, almost daily. To build it into a routine, we brush his teeth each morning after I brush my own. Also, he got a few weeks reprieve when my left arm was in a sling, but those idyllic days are over, little buddy.
4 I can’t speak to the timeline for cats, but I can attest from personal experience that not taking care of a cat’s dental health will lead to tooth loss later in his/her life, which dramatically diminishes their quality of life and shortens their life expectancy. And no one wants that.