How to keep dog teeth healthy, how to brush dogs teeth, puppy advice, tips, best products for brushing dogs teeth

Let’s talk about keeping dog teeth healthy

Last night pups went to bed looking disappointed. In fact, they somewhat hesitated before they joined me. Fred went off and sat by the kitchen door staring at it… Coop, who can, at times, be utterly British in showing his emotions, just sighed.

Then, around 11 o’clock, it suddenly hit me. I forgot to brush their teeth! And so off we run to the kitchen to get our tools out and “clean our teethies”

As soon as the process was complete, pups trotted back to the bedroom and fell asleep peacefully.

It makes some people laugh, but the boys love their dental routine and always gather in the kitchen at 9 in the evening waiting for me. If I don’t appear on time, Fred gives me a quick bark as a polite and slightly impatience reminder.

To be honest, I am glad they turned out to be like this. Not only it’s a joy to brush their teeth, but it also makes me happy to see those almost pearly whites, especially Fred’s. Coop’s teeth are alright, but he had to be on certain antibiotics as a young puppy – and some meds do affect the enamel making it dark.

I got into the habit of teeth brushing long time ago. Not that I am very good at following all my routines, but I do loathe the idea of dental cleaning and general anaesthesia. I know it’s safe, but I don’t believe it’s fair on my pups to go under once every couple of years simply because I failed them at daily tooth brushing.

So we brush. Every night. And interestingly, even science is on our side. According to the research and veterinary articles, daily tooth brushing is still the best way to prevent dental problems. It helps to keep the teeth clean, maintains correct levels of good mouth bacteria and controls the bad ones, In addition, healthy teeth also reduce the risk of other illnesses and lip fold dermatitis.

Just in case you are new to this or not sure how and where to start, here are the steps I use and recommend.

Start early, from the first week you get your puppy. He needs to learn that having your finger in his mouth is totally ok. If you fail this step and the pup is much older, with his adult teeth in full glory and need of proper brushing, he may not be so cooperative if you suddenly try to include tooth brushing into his beauty routine. It’s not natural for dogs to have their teeth and mouth touched and the early introduction will make a massive difference.

For puppies, aim to get him used to the touches and contact. His teeth don’t really need thorough brushing. Use a microfibre brush first, then move onto a finger brush. At this stage you may not need any tooth paste at all. And if you do decide to use something, always check with your vet to ensure that the product is suitable for puppies.

Adult teeth should be brushed with either the finger brush or dog tooth brush.  Don’t forget the toothpaste, too. I like the enzymatic ones and have been using Logic for many years because all my dogs love the flavour and the enzymes in the paste take care of the teeth upon application, without need for the actual brushing (in case you are tired or the pup isn’t too keen on the brush)

The technique is to start by sliding your finger under the lip without actually opening pup’s mouth. If you do use the paste, let the dog smell and lick it. It may take a few days or weeks. Just be gentle, patience and keep going in tiny steps.

When the dog is happy to cooperate, apply a dot of toothpaste on the brush, lift the lip on one side, and brush moving the brush across the teeth in a circular motion. Keep the brush at a 45° angle. Pay particular attention to the back teeth and canines.

If you are unsure or feel stressed about having your pups teeth brushed, book an appointment with a nurse at your vets. It is usually free and they show you how to do everything correctly.

What about dental aids?

There are plenty of chews and chew toys on the market right now. Personally, I don’t use anything edible. Firstly, because studies didn’t show any special effects of dental chews or diets on dogs dental health when compared to daily brushing.

I am also extremely picky about ingredients that go into those chews and am yet to find the one I’d be comfortable with.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the chews must be age- and size- appropriate. Puppies mustn’t chew anything that you cannot bend. You also need to be careful with heavy chewers because they can chomp off larger pieces of chews turning them into choking hazards.

I also never use dehydrated body parts and raw hides.

My pups like their home-made crunchy biscuits, raw carrots and frozen slices of cucumber among other things.

And the bones?

The subject is controversial and I know that many people swear by raw bones. Some studies do say that the bones may reduce or prevent plaque formation. However, the same studies also say that the bones will not reduce the risk of periodontal disease and are likely to increase the risk of broken teeth, dislocated jaws and, if the dog manages to swallow a piece of bone, digestive blockages or life-threatening perforation.

And dry dog food?

There have been studies done on dogs fed moist, dry or a combination of moist and dry foods. The dogs who had dry food showed lower levels of plaque and deposits and reduced risk of periodontal disease compared to dogs from the other groups. I sense that this will be met with plenty of scepticism but I like to go with the science and I do feed kibble to my boys as a part of their diet.

As you can tell, I am a little bit obsessed with canine dental health… I talk about it, I dedicated a part of Perfect cocker spaniel to discussing ways to maintain pearly whites and I will continue reading every research and study focused on nutrition, products and techniques that would help my boys because I cannot even imagine them having pain or extractions and feeling less of a dog because of it.

Especially considering that it only takes a few minutes a day to prevent so many problems…

Can dogs eat garlic? Is garlic toxic or safe for dogs? Scientific evidence of garlic for dog's health, canine diet, nutrition, worming / (C) Perfect cocker spaniel, breed and puppy guide book, puppy tips, canine nutritionist, dog diet, cocker spaniel grooming / Natalia Ashton

Can my dog eat… garlic?

You are walking down the street in the evening or just about to approach an Italian restaurant and suddenly there is a delicious aroma hitting your nostrils and making your hungry instantly. When somebody cooks with garlic, the rest of the world is there to dream of roasted chicken, lamb, pasta, pizza or garlic bread… Because nobody can resist it. And hardly any kitchen can be complete without a few fat bulbs, bursting with goodness beneath the delicate tissue-paper like skin…

Garlic is so good for us, not only because it’s full of vitamins and minerals, but because this humble allium vegetable is a mighty source of sulphur compounds known to be beneficial for our hearts, the immune, digestive and endocrine systems, supporting detoxification and reducing inflammation.

But CAN OUR DOGS EAT GARLIC?

The short answer is NO….

Especially if they are English cocker spaniels.

Even though you might have heard otherwise, garlic is toxic to dogs. It is true that it was used by the breeders back in the 19th and early 20th century, but purely due to the fact that conventional and reliable worming medicine did not exist at the time. As the years went by, the very same breeders not only documented the side-effects of the garlic, but also recommended replacing the natural remedies with veterinary products due to their reliability and lasting results.

Why is garlic unsuitable for dogs?

The vegetable contains sodium 2-propenyl thiosulfate, which is toxic for the canines because their bodies cannot digest it efficiently. The build-up of the substance leads to formation of Heinz bodies, or clumps of haemoglobin, causing the rupture of red blood cells, oxygen deficiency and life-threatening haemolytic anaemia (IMHA).

The dogs may develop the condition after eating a large quantity of garlic as a single dose or consuming small quantities on a regular basis over a period of time.  In most cases IMHA will seem to appear suddenly and be fatal.

Why is garlic still used for dogs?

The advocates of garlic recommend it as a natural worming treatment or simply because “it’s beneficial and safe”. The latter is accompanied by a study of beagles that were given garlic extract for 12 weeks and didn’t develop Heinz bodies.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that…

The group of scientists who conducted the research were employed by the manufacturer of the garlic extract used in experiments.

The researched themselves concluded that garlic quantity must be monitored to avoid harm.

The garlic extract provided sulphur-containing amino acids S-allylcysteine (SAC) and S-1-propenylcysteine (S1PC). It was not mentioned if the extract contained sodium 2-propenyl thiosulfate.

The typical lifespan of red blood cells is between 100 and 120 days, so 12 weeks weren’t long enough to fully examine the body’s reaction to the substance.

Beagles are not genetically predisposed to the condition and we do not know enough information of their age, gender or health status at the time of the study.

The statement on garlic safety also contradicts independent studies and records spanning 30 years, discussed in interviews, books, scientific articles (1, 2, 3), veterinary manuals and journals (4, 5, 6, 7, 8) lists of poisonous substances  for dogs (9, 10) and included in FEDIAF guidelines and  top 10 animal toxins by ASPCA.

Why some dogs don’t develop Heinz bodies or haemolytic anaemia?

It can be related to genetics, breed predisposition (and cockers are among the breeds predisposed to the disease), hereditary defects, dog’s health, medical history, gender, age, and nutritional status (for example, selenium deficiency can increase the risk).

What about the worming effects of garlic?

There were no English language based clinical studies to support the use of garlic as an effective anti-worming medicine for dogs. Only two limited clinical trials conducted in 1969 and 2011 and described in Veterinary Evidence paper partially focused on the use of garlic alongside other herbs and plants such as pumpkin seeds. The quantities of the garlic were not included. There was no information about dogs except the number of dogs used and the names of parasites they had. The studies did show that garlic temporarily reduce the eggs and larvae, but only in specific species of worms. It did not seem to have effect of adult worms or certain species of worms. The questionable efficiency also meant that dogs would have to receive garlic at least every 2 days because the parasite levels returned to pre-treatment volume within 48 hours once the garlic was discontinued.  This means that all dogs remained at risk of either suffering from worms or potentially building up thiosulphate levels and developing haemolytic anaemia.

Interestingly, one of the known pioneers of using garlic as a worming treatment for dogs does not even have a veterinary degree or any form of academic education in canine or small animal nutrition.

The bottom line is to leave the garlic out of your dog’s diet, especially if the dog is a cocker spaniel. It really is not worth the risk.

 

Photo credit: image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Simple way to keep dogs live longer, healthy and happy life / study on dogs obesity and lifespan / Perfect cocker spaniel / Dog blog, english cocker spaniel tips, advice, grooming, training / canine nutrition, dog diet, dog nutritionist uk / (C) Natalia Ashton

The most simple way to keep your dog live for longer

Some time ago I read a story about selective breeding and Pekinese dogs in ancient China. The Lion-like dogs were considered sacred and protected by the Manchu emperors who not only exclusively owned the dogs, but kept a watchful eye on their breeding quantities and qualities.

Thus the Pekinese were bred for both form and function ensuring that their exquisite beauty, intelligence and character would not be achieved by sacrificing their physical well-being.

As a result, even though the little dogs still had their short muzzles (known as brachycephaly), they were said to remain active and disease-free for their entire lives that often spanned a quarter of a century.

I sat there thinking how wonderful it would be to share 25 years of my life with my dogs. The life without disease or heartaches. Of course, it’s more of a dream than reality, but there are some realistic ways to ensure that our pups stay with us for longer. Including the most basic and straightforward one…

In 2019 Journal of Veterinary Medicine published a North American study that looked into the lifespan of 12 breeders of pet dogs aged between 6.5 and 8.5 years old and identified as either “overweight” or “normal” based on the Body Conditioning Chart.

The results of the study showed that the overweight group of dogs had a shorter lifespan compared to the “normal” group of the same breed. The difference ranged between 6 months and 2.5 years, and the smaller breeds seemed to be more affected than larger ones.

The study had its flaws because the data was collected from a great number of vets working in 900 veterinary hospitals across the country, there was no specified medical history that could have affected dog’s health, the comparison chart for the maximum age was based on generic breed information, and all dogs used for the study were neutered.

Having said that, the fact is that the dogs who carried extra kilos were at higher risk of earlier death than their slimmer counterparts is obvious.

For us, as dog parents, it means one simple rule – keeping our spaniels fit and lean means longer life together!

Cockers are prone to weight gain, so it is vital to monitor their diet (treats included!) and exercise to suit their age and physical requirements, keep them well to avoid the need for certain medications that can contribute to weight-gain as a side-effect, reconsider routine neutering, and most definitely consult a vet if you suspect any underlying conditions that may get your dog put on pounds. And if your spaniel already looks a little chubby, help them lose the pounds for good.

It really is such a small effort for achieving something pretty wonderful. And who knows maybe there will come a day when we and the pooches really do get to share a quarter of a century together again…