As you may already know, Jesse and I are those crazy dog people. The ones who talk to their dog in a baby voice and treat them like a child. The ones whose dog has way too many toys and a million and one nicknames and the ones whose dog knows exactly how to get what they want.
Chanel isn't just our dog, she's our baby - and we do everything possible to keep her healthy and happy - at least, we thought we did...
We know the foods she can and can't eat, we know the signs to look for for paralysis ticks (even though we've never heard of anyone in our area having an issue with paralysis ticks...), she goes straight to the vet for a checkup as soon as she's acting funny, she has ear drops for her recurring ear infections (because girlfriend's fur isn't doing her any favours) and we spent weeks worrying about her when we knew we were bring a puppy into the house.
We thought we had everything under control - and we thought we were doing everything right.... but then that cute yet ridiculous underbite you see above became part of the problem we didn't know we had.
You see, years ago we found out that our neighbour brushed her dogs teeth - and truthfully, I thought she was a bit of a weirdo, a bit over the top. Little did I know, that neighbour had the right idea.
We'd never been told to brush Chanel's teeth - and just like all of our friends, we thought that chew toys and bones and dog treats were doing the job of cleaning her teeth for us. Dogs don't need toothbrushes in the wild - why would we need to brush her teeth?!
But we were wrong.
Last year, we found out that Chanel had seriously tooth decay. Unlike a human that could tell us that they had a toothache, Chanel just had to put up with it until we discovered the problem.
First, we casually brought up her bad breath at the vet's whilst there to check on her ears. We knew her teeth weren't clean - but neither were any of our friends dogs. That's when we discovered the problem.
Not only did Chanel have teeth issues because she's a small dog, she had teeth problems because she used her teeth differently to how she was supposed to due to that under-bite.
Here we were thinking we had everything under control and that toys and treats were doing the job of cleaning her teeth - yet the vet smacked down a hefty quote for teeth cleaning in front of us....
And when I say hefty, I'm talking thousands.
The vet didn't instill any confidence in me and the hefty quote made me want to run for the hills - but then whilst reading some articles about pet dental health on the web, I found Dr Dave from Dr Dave's Vets and Pets.
I had a look at Dr Dave's website and knew I needed to get in touch with him immediately to talk about Chanel. Their website claimed they offered Sydney's best value pet dental services and they specialised in them too - but I wanted to know more.
It only took one conversation with Dr Dave to have Mum and I in the car with Chanel making our way all the way over to Darlinghurst for an appointment with him - and as soon as we met him, I knew I'd made the right choice.
You see, Pet Dental Health is a funny thing. It's not really known about because it's not really taught about. It's not something we speak about with our friends and most vets only do one day of study on dental health during school - even though it's one of the most common problems they'll face in their clinics.
Dr Dave, however, is a member of the Australian Veterinary Dental Association and extensively studied dentistry with some of the worlds best pet dentists. I know what you're thinking though, that all sounds wonderful - but what does it mean for your dog?
For me, the most impressive thing about Dave was that he loves animals - and you can tell that they love him. He has the experience that you can trust and he went above and beyond to ensure Chanel was healthy enough to have her teeth surgery before he even began to discuss it as an option.
Our pup wasn't just refusing food because she was fussy - she was refusing food because her teeth were causing her significant pain and discomfort. Bones and chew toys and treats were never going to do anything to help because it's actually been proven that feeding dogs bones does nothing to prevent dental disease.
I mean, think about it; would you chew on a bone rather than brush your teeth? You know that wouldn't work for you - but somehow we accept that they'll do the job for our pets.
The signs for dental disease are all there - but we often shrug them off as a "doggy thing";
- Bad breath
- Brown discolouration of the teeth
- Cracked or worn teeth
- Reduced enjoyment of food or fussiness at mealtimes
- Bleeding gums
- Drooling or pawing at the mouth
- Pain when you touch the muzzle
- Bleeding gums
- Slowing down on walks or lacking energy
- Eating on one side of the mouth
- More tartar on one side of the mouth than the other
Chanel had many of those signs and together with Dr Dave, we decided that a dental procedure was a must for her - but he wanted her to lose a little bit of weight before the procedure to ensure she was healthy. You see, in order to clean the teeth properly, the dogs need to be put under anesthetic and Dr Dave wanted to ensure that Chanel would have a fuss-free procedure with no complications.
We scheduled the date for Chanel's teeth surgery and got onto Puppy Bootcamp to shed a little bit of weight off Ms Beyonce Booty.
Before we knew it, it was time to pack Chanel up in the car and drive over to Darlinghurst for Chanel's surgery. She had her favourite lamb in tow as well as an anxious Mum (me!)
We had her consultation and check up first and then left her to have her surgery before picking her up later that night.
Chanel had quite severe dental decay - so her procedure was a little more extensive than other dogs. She needed nine teeth extracted (which were too decayed/damaged to keep in their or just about ready to fall out on their own) and had all of her teeth completely cleaned.
The procedure also included an x-ray to show exactly which teeth were healthy, which were decayed under the surface and needed to be pulled out and which teeth were damaged yet repairable through future care.
I know nine teeth sounds like an incredible amount - and I was concerned too, but I was amazed at how much happier and healthier she was with those problem teeth. Our fussy eater became a pup who was more than happy to chow down at meal times and no longer went on hunger strikes for days at a time.
When we picked her up that night we had a very sore and sooky pup - but a day or two later she was back to her normal self, playing with the puppy, eating her food with no issues and seeming much brighter and more energetic than she was before.
Here we were thinking that Chanel was just getting older and lazier - but it was actually her being in pain that was causing her attitude change. It sounds silly, but since the teeth surgery and cleaning we've had a new dog - one who's happier, healthier and more energetic - and one who doesn't have stinky breath in the slightest!
But now that Chanel is doing so much better - what are we doing to keep her that way?
- We've changed her diet
Previously Chanel only really ate soft foods as that's the only thing she would eat - and because our old dog, Gizmo, was on a special diet due to other health issues and we just fed them the same foods. Chanel now eats mainly dog biscuits which are designed to keep her teeth clean and healthy - and it's also a weight control formula to ensure she's not eating too many calories.
- We're working on brushing her teeth
Let's be honest, I say working because it's a work in progress. Dogs don't tend to like having their teeth brushed so it takes time to get them used to it.
- We still have chew toys around for her to play with
Whilst chew toys aren't going to be a substitute for proper homecare, they can help to keep their teeth clean and healthy so we have quite a few specially designed chew toys around for her to play with
- She'll be having regular checkups
The plan is to have Chanel get a maintenance clean once a year or as needed to ensure her teeth stay healthy and strong and she doesn't have to have any more removed in the future. We'll be booking her in for an annual scale and polish with Dr Dave to remove tartar and plaque before it gets too bad.
- We've added "Healthy Mouth" Water Additive to their water
As suggested by Dr Dave and his team, we've added the Healthy Mouth solution to the dogs' water bowls to help fight plaque and bacteria.
But don't just take it from me, if you want to learn more about Pet Dental Health, here are some articles that might help!
- Further information on Dr Dave's Vets and Pets Pet Dental Cleaning Services in Sydney
- Why It's So Important to Look After Your Dog's Teeth
- A video by Dr Dave Explaining Pet Dental Disease
- How Pet Dental Disease is Killing Your Pet
And a big shout out to Dr Dave and his team who are absolutely incredible and love what they do - and that love definitely shows. You can visit them with your pet for a free dental health consultation at;
But tell me, did you realise it was so important to look after your pet's teeth?
What do you do to clean your pup's teeth? Or what will you do now?