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Dental care

Through some amazing act of grace, Shelby finally let me inspect her teeth. Most of her  teeth looked pretty good, probably because she plays/chews her stuffed toys, bones, cow hoof, and other hard things. She also gets hard kibble.

The back molars looked like they had some tartar buildup. On the left, you see the back molar, and on the right is her front canine. I'm amazed she laid still for these photos. I guess it helps to play with her for a half hour until she's exhausted. :) I'm considering a dental visit to clean her back molars.

Even more amazing was that immediately after taking these photos, Shelby went to chew her bone, as if she knew that she needed to clean her teeth? Genious pug, or amazing coincidence. I'll let you decide.

I called Shelby's vet to find out the cost of a dental visit. A teeth cleaning costs $250 (eek!) because it also involves anesthetising her, as well as a blood test to make sure she can tolerate the anesthetic. They have a Wellness plan (basically its pet insurance) that would cover the cleaning, but Shelby' doesn't currently have a plan. It would cost about $400 a year (double eek!) for the plan, but it includes a bunch of other services. That kind of dough buys a lot of tartar control milk bones. And money was just part of the issue.

This discussion happens to closely follow a news report that Steven heard about malpractice suits against vets. One of the suits involved a dog going in for a dental procedure, and dying while under anesthetic. So the timing of this conversation was quite unfortunate. It wasn't officially an argument, but I did get slightly unprofessional, using the word "poo-poo" to help make my point. Now would be a good time to mention that I didn't major in English.

Steven's not against doggie dental cleaning, but he doesn't want Shelby under anesthetic which he considers high-risk, for the gingivitis that he considers minor risk. And perhaps I am overreacting, and projecting my own dental experiences onto Shelby.

We agreed that it was best to ask our vet how often dogs should get their teeth cleaned, and peace ensued in the household.

April 6, 2005 | Permalink


Alfred is 7 ( 8 in June!) and every year when he gets his check up the vet says, teeth are looking good, maybe in another year we should clean his teeth. So apparently, will all of his chew toys, his teeth are fine. Now Holly our 8 almost 9 year old pug, came from a very bad life where she must not have had any chew toys. When we adopted her last year, we had to have 4 rotten teeth removed. So just keep the chew toys and bones coming!

Posted by: alfredsmom | Apr 6, 2005 7:07:35 AM


I know this is a random question, but could you please tell me what kind of camera you have? I am looking to by a digital camera (which I will probably use mostly to snap pictures of my puppy!), and am always impressed with the clarity of your photos.


Posted by: Rebecca | Apr 6, 2005 8:21:05 AM

Like Steven said they put them under anesthetic and that to me is dangerous! Keep giving her chew toys and dry food. (Some) vets will tell you anything to get you in their office and slap a high price on you! Beware! You go in for a cleaning and before you know it, you have had numerous blood test and other treatments that were not your intentions at all! They always find something else that needs their attention! Yea right!!!

Posted by: Debbie | Apr 6, 2005 8:36:49 AM

My family experienced the loss of a beloved pet because of the anethetic used for the teeth cleaning. We clean their teeth ourselves and make sure they have lots of chew toys. We'd rather they have bad teeth than lose them entirely. So far, we are doing a pretty good job of cleaning their teeth on our own. :)

Posted by: Angela | Apr 6, 2005 8:55:10 AM

I have the same reservations that you do for teeth cleaning. I have two pugs, one who is an adopted older pug about 9 years old and the other about 3. Neither has ever had their teeth cleaned, to my knowledge. I try to brush their teeth often and give them hard chews and hard kibble.
I have one vet that I completely trust, he is honest and doesn't try to push a lot of costly procedures on me. If I were to ever have dental work (or any major surgery) for my pugs, he is the only one I will go to. If you feel that you trust your vet 110% then I say go ahead. If you have any sort of doubt, don't bother. With my vet, I know that if anything bad were to happen, it would not be his fault, it would just be bad luck for me. Good luck!

Posted by: h | Apr 6, 2005 9:30:34 AM

Hi Winnie, just the other day a friend who has an 8 year old Rottweiller had his vet recommend Enzadent Oral Care Chews by Vet Solutions. They look like rawhide chips but are suppose to have an enzyme which helps keeps their teeth clean. I also heard that if you don't like giving your dog bones you can give them a hunk of turnip to chew on (when you're there to keep an eye on them). I haven't tried either yet, but thought I'd pass on the info. My pug Chloe is 3 months younger than Shelby so I really enjoy reading your updates & latest developments.

Posted by: Janet | Apr 6, 2005 11:37:38 AM

Yeah, the anestistizing is the panic there for me. Especially Pugs with their respitory challenges. I have to take Loki for the big snip next week, and I am beginning to panic. But as he has in just the last week and a half, moved from puppy to serious boy dog activities...it is time. Sigh...

Posted by: Katherine | Apr 6, 2005 11:52:34 AM

have you tried greenies? they were invented by a vet to help keep your dog's teeth clean. my rat terrier LOVES 'em. he can only have one a day though or he throws up.
also- since she seems pretty easy-going about you being in her mouth, perhaps you should see if she'll let you use a tooth brush on her- just think of the photo opportunities!

Posted by: bunny | Apr 6, 2005 3:57:01 PM

Shelby's teeth look great...our vet usually scrapes our dog's teeth (to get the tartar build up off of the cannines) while she is awake for her annual vet check up. It takes only a minute. Unless she develops severe halitosis or other problem, it's usually not necessary for the cleaning under anesthesia (as per my vet). If in doubt, check other vets in your area. Oh Shelby, you are so beautiful! keep chewing those bones!

Posted by: diana | Apr 6, 2005 7:10:30 PM

Besides the obvious different types of toothbrushes & 'yummy' pet toothpaste, there are liquid products like Nolvadent that you can squeeze onto something like a terry cloth over your finger, & rub the teeth. Hard treats like crunchy wheat/corn based 'cookies' cause more dental problems than help - once wet, they 'wad' up in the teeth & start turning to sugar - the dental bacteria's best breeding ground. Something like raw beef ribs are fabulous (raw bones are safe - that's how wolves sharpen & clean). I used to give my Gracie a raw beef rib once a week, & it would keep her busy for days, grabbing with her front teeth to clean the little bits of meat off, & gnawing at the ends to get to the marrow really scraped her teeth clean. (the key is raw - never ever cooked; and get beef, not pork) I never did the scaling, but I know plenty of folks who do their own scaling on their animal companions. My sister's furkids line up for brushies, because they always get a little piece of banana if they are good. Big fat broccoli stems & large carrots are another chew treat i give my guys.

Posted by: patricia | Apr 6, 2005 11:06:01 PM

Shelby's teeth look great. I hate worrying about pugs going under anesthetic too, but I had to let mine go under because she cracked a tooth all the way up to the root. We still don't know how we managed it. I'm thinking it could be related to her deep deep love of anything found on the ground, including rocks. Pugs can be so silly.

Posted by: lisaberry | Apr 7, 2005 6:06:07 AM

I used to work with a vet, and I can tell you that dogs dying while under anesthestia for teeth cleaning probably happens a lot more than you hear about. It happened twice while I was working with that vet. One was a small chihuahua, and the vet overdosed it by accident. The other was a bigger dog. With a pug's breathing being a little more hampered than "straight nosed" dogs, I would be afraid to have my pug's teeth cleaned. I'd only do it if they were really nasty and actually causing buildup of bacteria in the mouth that could make the dog sick. Shelby's teeth look great, just brush them yourself once a day and that will help, and let her chew on those nylabones as much as she wants.

Posted by: Brandie | Apr 7, 2005 6:13:45 AM

You know, my BF's stepmom is a norwich terrier breeder. To my knowledge, she has never had her show dogs teeth cleaned and quite honestly, she has *many* champions that she has raised. She feeds them uncooked chicken necks (same reason Patricia uses beef ribs), which she says helps their teeth and their coat.

Posted by: ninjakittycat | Apr 7, 2005 10:37:34 AM

Hey, just a question but do you by chance go to banfield?? It is a vet clinic inside most petsmart stores. the wellness plan rung a bell, I used to work for a banfield, and let me tell you, the wellness plans ARE NOT WORTH IT!!! IT IS A SCAM!!! they will chanrge you all this money per month and then they stock you up with a bunch of vaccines you DONT NEED, then there is a TON of fine print that tells you that it is NOT PET HEALTH INSURANCE. it is a "wellness plan" a plan designed to keep healthy pets healthy. I calclated the costs of the basics for dogs ( I have five ) and the wellness plan doesnt even cover all of the things that are nescessary. a piece of advice DONT DO THE WELLNESS PLAN!!!!! :) it is just a way they rip people off. I called around to my vet (my cat recently needed a dental) and another vet only costs $75. this is the avg cost. most vets charge between $75-$100 for a dental. call around. banfield tells you that they use better and safer drugs and equiptment. this is not true. they throw all these technical terms at you quickly and then they tell you that you are more than welcome to call around to other vets in the area and see if they use the same equiptment. well they do. but banfield doesnt want you to know that they dont expect you to actually call and find out. just call around....... and shelbys tarter is not bad AT ALL. you may just want to considar brushing her teeth. they have doggie toothpaste that is chicken/beef/liver flavored. and they seem to really like it. and they also have finger brushes you can get that are a little less scary looking than an actual brush. :) I hope this helps!!- also with a breed with a collapsable trachia- like shelby- anesthesia can be pretty dangerous. and taking that kind of risk at a place like banfield, that does surgerys like its an assembly line, prematurely may not be the best thing..... not to mention the actual vet doesnt even do the dentals. the vets assistant does..... and at banfield.... they dont have to have any previous training.... so if you are willing to drop $250 on a dental done by a non-trained tech......... go for it... but if not. I would look elsewhere. keep posting about shelby I love to read about and see the pictures of her!!!!- thanks-Kirstin

Posted by: Kirstin | Apr 7, 2005 12:11:48 PM

I use banifield for my pug/chihuahua puppy at this time and have been very pleased so far.. $100 to sign up and 20 bucks a month for 1 year.. and so far that has covered her whole spay surgery, all her shots for the year, and multiple visits for infections between her toes (caused by her scratching at her crate), and a bump on her butt which turned out to be an infection! i am sure it saved me tons of money.. now after her 1st year of life i don't plan to continue, i mainly did it for the spay and vaccines which i was very pleased with..

Posted by: Becky | Apr 9, 2005 9:48:31 PM

I have a pug named Shelby! My husband named her that because he loves Mustangs. your Shelby looks just like my Lakeisha, we also have Shelby's littermate Maybel.

Posted by: Stacy odell | Apr 15, 2005 10:38:59 AM

I just read all the comments from everyone and have a few things to report. Brush your pugs teeth with dog toothpaste, it is too risky to put pugs under anethesa, they have those bracheaphalic (didn't spell this right) faces which makes it very dangerous for them to undergo anethesa. Also most of the time when a dog dies from anethesa it's an older dog so I recommend not having a dental cleaning for dogs over 8 yrs of age. I give my pugs greenies too, when they throw them up it's because when they get down to the end, they swallow a large portion. I always hand it to them big part first so they end with the smaller part. I am also a big fan of giving them carrots. Be aware some rawhides are imported from other countries therefore having unsafe ingredeients or pesticides. Some chew sticks such as nylabone are not detected by xray so if your dog were to swallow a big piece and get lodged in their systems the vet would not find it. Also, to the person looking for a camera, I love the Kodak easy share. It's easy to use and takes great pictures.

Posted by: Stacy | Apr 15, 2005 11:00:51 AM

Have you tried brushing her teeth?
They have chicken flavored toothpaste.

I have not tried it yet with my babies, however they do get OxyFresh as a supplement in their water & its helped on tartar tremendously

Posted by: Mindy | Apr 23, 2005 5:41:25 AM

hi, Im looking for some info on trachia problems in small dogs and came across this web site . I found it very interesting and noticed that these dogs should not be put to sleep to get their teeth cleaned .I have a chihuahua with this collapsed trachia problem and it scares me.Any info you can give will be appreciated.

Posted by: silver | Jan 23, 2006 11:15:31 PM

Where do you guys live? In Southern California, there's Houndstooth, non-anesthetic dog and cat teeth cleaning.
They come to your house and cleaning your pets teeth.

Posted by: lulu | Aug 9, 2006 4:09:25 PM

do pugs loose baby teeth

Posted by: Geoff | Sep 3, 2006 6:57:48 PM

Yes they do. I took a photo of the molar Shelby lost.

Posted by: Winnie | Sep 3, 2006 10:17:30 PM

I had my pug's teeth cleaned and ended up having 5 pulled at the same time. She was 4 at the time and i never did anything about brushing or ceaning the teeth before now i give her CET rawhide chews that I buy at the vets. She loves them and they do seem to do a good job on the build up. Now I have to have a lump removed and I am concerned because it has only been 9 months since she was under anesthesia and I am very scared. Does anybody know if this should be so much of a concern or am I very overprotective. Of corse the vet says it's ok especially since she didn't have any problems but I don't know

Posted by: kim | Feb 28, 2007 8:59:48 AM

I have a pug named Rosey. She is a retired breeder and when I got her she had gum disease. Like a human, gum disease is very bad for a dog. The infection in the gums can lead to heart disease. It can also lead to tooth loss and bad breath. As a dentist,I highly recommend at least one professional cleaning. Not a annual one because of the anesthetic.

Posted by: Maggie | Apr 14, 2007 10:43:48 AM

my 12 year old peke just had a cancer removed. She was on penicillin a week before the surgery. For some reason, i opened her mouth yesterday before we had her stitches out, and her back teeth are BLACK/GRAY and rough. Vet said they have to be cleaned or it will spread to her liver and bloodstream. I wish i had known and had it done while she was "under" for the surgery. Now, its extra money, but mostly i am SCARED to do it.... and scared NOT to. HELP ! she's a Hurricane Katrina survivor and lost one eye in the storm.

Posted by: carolyn | Jul 14, 2007 8:24:17 PM

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