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Yesterday, Daisy had a dental cleaning at our vet’s. She didn’t really have dog breath but her annual examination revealed that her teeth weren’t in the best condition. She didn’t need any extractions, but she had gingivitis in her rear teeth and, as it turns out, signs of receding gums.
Daisy is a senior girl and we absolutely can’t risk having another procedure where she requires anesthesia.
I have really tried to support her mouth health through 2-3 times per week brushing with dog toothpaste and the feeding of dental chews. She doesn’t tolerate raw bones well – which routinely either over-stimulate her bowels or cause constipation. (When she shared a kennel with her father once a week at daycare, it was great because she could chew on his cast-offs without these problems.)
Daisy is also rather picky and so she won’t chew on chew toys like the twisted rope chews (I think she believes it’s beneath her). If food/taste isn’t involved in the chew, she’s just not interested.
So, what’s next for our regime?
Well, the first thing is making brushing of her teeth a daily event. I’m motivated to do this because I know the consequences of not doing it and luckily, Daisy is used to it.
But I want to do more and preferably in as natural a way as possible.
I’m also going to try homeopathics. The two that come recommended are fragaria and calc renalis because these keep tartar soft and more able to be removed through chewing and brushing. The standard 30C concentrations are what we are going to start with by adding it to her water bowl.
I’ve also read that boiled oxtail is a good chew. So I’m off to find oxtail at the supermarket/butcher. I’m also hopeful of finding other chews that Daisy will tolerate – I’m going to source a deer antler chew shortly.
Remember, that dental health is essential. I’ve previously written about this subject in Dog breath is no laughing matter.
Please feel free to share what you do to keep your dog’s teeth in top condition either through this blog or my Facebook page. (Yes, I know about the raw diet – but Daisy hasn’t tolerated even a managed transition to raw feeding in the past. I’m not against feeding raw, I just know from my practice that not all dogs are suited to the raw diet for a range of reasons).
Last night on consumer television programme Fair Go, there was an item about the high cost of veterinary care in New Zealand.
The makers of the programme compared costs for common veterinary procedures in cats and dogs – thinks like dental cleanings and microchipping. And for those of us working in the companion animal field, it came as no surprise that there can be a huge variability in costs.
I remember when I was studying pet nutrition, our first assignment included a question about the cost of the first year of a dog’s care. We had to itemise all costs for everything from food to flea treatments to veterinary care. And like so many other living costs in New Zealand, our prices were higher. That’s what happens when you live on comparatively small islands in the middle of the Pacific! In fact, my tutor said that our costs were the highest of all others in the class from around the world.
However, the Fair Go programme basically advised viewers that the way to control their costs was to shop around. While I agree with this point – to a point, there’s a lot more that you can do to keep the costs of your veterinary care – and your dog’s overall care – reasonable.
And I’m also a big supporter of the adage – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. In every aspect of my dog’s care, I aim to purchase quality products and services. They may not be the cheapest – but I’m satisfied that they are the best.
In my opinion, you should:
- Adopt a preventive healthcare approach first
As soon as your dog comes into your life, vow that you will do the best you can for them. This means choosing high quality, nutritious foods (‘you are what you eat’) and giving your dog the right amount of exercise. Ensure your dog doesn’t become overweight and clean their teeth.
For teeth cleaning, there’s the old-fashioned approach which includes giving dogs raw meaty bones. There are also good dental chews on the market and toys like rope chews act as dental floss. There’s also some very good toothbrushes and toothpaste you can buy because not all dogs get enough cleaning from the items that they chew.
- Build a relationship with a vet
If you go all over town chasing the best price, no single veterinary practice will have a full picture of your dog’s health history. Shop around and then try to stick with the same vet. Be honest about your ability to pay and if the practice knows you, they will be in a better position to offer you a payment plan or a reduction in price. You probably won’t have that as an option if the veterinary practice has never seen you before!
If you are unhappy with any service that a veterinarian provides you (including cost) you should raise your concerns with the practice first to see what solutions are available. Then, if you’re still not happy, go out and find yourself another vet that you can work with.
- Complementary therapies for longevity and quality of life
Complementary therapies like my massage, acupressure and laser therapy practice have a role in keeping your dog healthy (and the vet bills down). I offer advice on rehabilitation and exercise programmes that can help reduce your dog’s dependence on pain medication, for example. I’m an advocate for therapies such as hydrotherapy and acupuncture, both of which I use for my own, aging dog.
- Shop online
There are many outlets where you can find pet products at a more reasonable price than a traditional pet store or veterinary practice. These include sites like Trade Me, but also online pet pharmacy My Vet. I also source and sell products online through my company – Canine Catering and, because I’m a smaller operation with lower overheads, you will pay a lower price.
(In general, retail costs are higher because there are more costs for doing business. They have shop assistants to pay, rent, and bills for heating, maintenance and electricity. )
I hope these tips give you a broader perspective on the costs of caring for your dog. If we save money, we have more money to spend on our families which includes our pets!
There are lots of jokes that circulate at this time of year about a dog’s resolutions for the new year (e.g., kitty-box crunchies are not junk food, etc.). But what about your resolutions for your role as a Doggy Mom or Doggy Dad?
Here are my suggestions for new year resolutions:
1. Resolve to feed your dog the highest quality dog food you can afford. Not sure what to feed or even if you are feeding the right amount? That’s where a nutritional assessment comes in. People like me are trained in reading the labels of your existing dog food and with some information about your dog’s condition and lifestyle, we can tell you a lot about whether you are feeding the right amount and make un-biased suggestions about your core dog food.
In my case, I’m not affiliated with any veterinary practice or brand of dog food (many professionals take their nutrition training from a programme offered by dog food manufacturer – ask about this when selecting a provider for nutritional advice!)
2. Exercise more – for your dog and yourself! Exercise is important mental and physical stimulation for both you and your dog. Discover new walks, link up with walking partners and doggy buddies for more variety, and manage your exercise according to the temperatures of the day (your dog doesn’t have the heat regulation system that you do in the summer; and their paw pads can be irritated by road salt and ice during the winter).
3. Groom your dog – regularly. If you don’t know what to do, then take your dog to a professional groomer and get advice on maintenance that you can do at home. It breaks my heart to hear about veterinary nurses and groomers that have to work on severely matted dogs because their owner has neglected their grooming responsibilities.
4. Make time for your dog. I signed off last month’s newsletter to my Canine Catering customers saying “remember that the best thing you give your dog this holiday season is your time.” It goes for the rest of the year, too. Your dog is a social animal and needs your love and attention throughout the year.
5. Keep a watchful eye on your dog’s health, ensuring they are not overweight (or underweight) and that they receive regular veterinary care. (For a dog to be accepted into my dog massage and rehabilitation practice, the owner must certify for me that their dog is under regular veterinary care.)
6. Have fun together – play time is essential. Dog walks are not the only stimulation for your dog. Choose an activity that suits both you your dog. It could be agility or obedience training, rally-o, fetch, cross-country skiing, hiking/tramping, or the use of interactive dog toys.
I wish you and your dog a wonderful 2012. Contact me through this blog or my website for information on any topic I cover in this blog.
With every massage/laser treatment your dog receives, I will initial your card. After five treatments, you are able to select a bag of treats from my Canine Catering range to the value of $10. It’s that simple.
I aim to keep my prices reasonable, and offer a fully mobile service to your door in Greater Christchurch. This card is just another way of showing you that I appreciate your support and the trust you show in me to work with your dog.