Tag Archives: dental health

New – but is it safe and effective?

Look what I found when cleaning out yesterday – in a file of old vet records for Daisy (who passed away in July 2014) – a brochure for Periovac.  With February being Pet Dental Health Month – I thought this blog post was entirely appropriate.

Periovac brochure


Periovac, marketed by Pfizer with some fanfare in 2006, the vaccine was touted as the latest and greatest thing that dog owners could do to support dental health in their dogs.  On a routine visit to a vet for a lump on Daisy’s side, he handed me this brochure when he noted that she had some tartar buildup recommending both a dental cleaning and vaccination with this product.

“It’s quite new,” he said.

I remember that this statement raised some alarm bells for me because animal medications have a much lower threshold for testing and approvals before they hit the market.  In fact, most pet owners are unaware that the newest medications on the market are often being sold with fairly limited research behind them, often under limited or conditional licenses.

At that time, I was also of the view that dental health in people is managed through dental care such as regular brushing of the teeth and professional cleanings.  I thought that the same would apply to dogs (and still do!).  I couldn’t imagine a vaccine for my dental health – so why one for my dog?

I remember emailing Angell Memorial Animal Hospital’s advice line about use of the product.  The response is one I vividly remember, “Has she tried everything else?”

That answer spoke volumes for me.  I didn’t vaccinate Daisy.

Pfizer withdrew the product from the market in 2011.  They said after a 4-year study, use of the vaccine could not be linked to a long-term reduction in periodontal disease.  The company stood by the product’s safety, however.  I wonder how many dog owners had paid to use the vaccine in good faith – possibly stopping other care methods like brushing of the teeth – I bet they weren’t told that the vaccine turned out to be ineffective!

So my advice for Pet Dental Health Month remains – brush your dog’s teeth.  Everyday.

And my other advice – for dog health in its entirety – is be careful about being an early adopter of new medications.  Make sure you understand how the medication works and what research has been done into both its efficacy and its safety.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Fighting Fractures

Sometimes, I come across resources on the internet that just have to be shared.  Here’s one of them.  It’s a fact sheet by Dr Brett Beckman, a veterinary dentist, about fractured teeth, how to prevent them, and the treatments available.

Fighting Fractures

You can download a .pdf of this fact sheet from www.dentalvets.co.uk

Recommended reading for all dog parents…

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand


Greyhounds, it seems, like to sleep with their mouths open.   And their owners like to take photos of their hounds showing off their ‘teefs’ – photos that are shared on Facebook groups involving greyhounds (I follow several)…

Greyhound front teeth by Elizabeth Anne Dodd

A sleeping greyhound shows off their front teefs (Photo by Elizabeth Anne Dodd)

So I’ve used these photos as an inspiration.  How much do you know about your dog’s teeth?

greyhound front teeth upside down by Gill Vernon

An upside down sleeping Greyhound, again showing off the front teefs (Photo by Gill Vernon)

Let’s look at a diagram of an adult dog’s teeth:


Adult dog teeth diagram

An adult dog’s teeth (diagram courtesy of the Merck Vet Manual)

The dog has 6 incisors on the upper and lower jaws that are used for grasping.

Of the famous “canine teeth” there are only 2 each on the upper and lower jaws.  Their main function is tearing.

There are 8 premolars on the upper and lower jaw and their main function is grinding.  There are 4 molars in the upper jaw and 6 on the lower jaw.  These teeth also have a grinding function.

The best way to keep your dog’s teeth healthy is to feed a nutritious diet.

I am a big support of regular teeth brushing, too. (see my blog post on Brushing your dog’s teeth)

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand



Senior pets month

Blog paws seniors

The State of Pet Health in 2013 – The Banfield Report

As most of my regular readers know, I’m passionate about holistic health for our dogs. It helps, though, when we have statistics like the Banfield State of Pet Health Report 2013 to show us the ailments that are more common. In this report, we see that obesity and dental health are 2 major problems.

So ask yourself honestly – is my dog a bit heavier than he/she should be? Is the dog’s bad breath a sign of something more sinister? Through my practice, I can help dogs with both conditions (plus others, like arthritis).

Get in touch!

No Dog About It Blog

Chihuahua Wearing EyeglassesLast year, I shared a summary of Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2012 report on the state of pet health in America. The report was full of interesting information on the common ailments and diseases they see in the cats and dogs who visit their hospitals. It also called out a disturbing trend being seen in both types of pets – an increase in pet obesity.

In their 2013 State of Pet Health Report, Banfield shares even more interesting information on the average lifespan of pets and some frequently occurring themes (also seen in the 2012 report). This year’s report provides pet owners and veterinarians with even greater insight into the health of all our pets and where we should be focusing our attention.

Here is a summary of some of the more interesting findings:

  • Toy or smaller breed dogs live 41% longer than large breed dogs.
  • Large breeds reach their senior…

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Periodontal disease in dogs

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs over the age of three develop periodontal disease.  I’ve previously blogged about gum disease in Dog breath is no laughing matter and Managing dental health.

Did you know that while any dog can develop gum and dental problems, periodontal disease is most commonly seen in toy dog breeds?  That’s because they have the same number of teeth as larger dogs but their mouths are smaller and so there’s less room between teeth…

Here’s a photo of one toy breed, the Chihuahua.  Willow is owned by George L. Verge.

Our Chihuahua – Willow



This is Daisy letting me know she doesn’t like what is in her mouth.  For a dog that eats a  lot of things ranging from cat poo, duck poo and rabbit poo to homemade dog treats and premium dog food, this is saying something.

Last month, I blogged about Managing dental health.  Since then, Daisy and I have continued our journey and I have dutifully been brushing her teeth every night.  However, because of my interest in natural remedies, I bought something called ‘Clean Well Dental Gel’ to try.  This is an herbal gel for ‘fighting bacteria and freshening breath.’

I had my doubts as soon as I opened the bottle.  The smell wasn’t particularly appealing.  A little bit like the smell of lawn clippings that have stayed too long at the bottom of the waste bin.

From Daisy’s reaction, I think that’s about how well it tastes, too.

So we are back to brushing with poultry flavoured toothpaste.  We may try malt and beef, too.  But, if I want to make brushing a happy experience for both of us, this herbal stuff is off the menu.

Managing dental health

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).

Dog breath is no laughing matter

We’ve all heard the jokes and comments about dog breath.  Things like “I owned a dog named Halle, he had such bad breath we called him Halle tosis”

However, dog breath is no laughing matter.  Bad breath is one of the common symptoms of gingivits and periodontal disease.  February is National Pet Dental Health Month in the USA.  Take this time to learn a bit more about your dog’s dental health.

Plaque consists of saliva, bacteria, and food particles.  Dental experts say that plaque is 80% bacteria and when it isn’t removed, it will harden into dental calculus – commonly known as tartar.  Tartar is clearly recognizable as a brown hard coating on your dog’s teeth.

The earliest form of periodontal disease is gingivitis.   A reddening or swelling along the gum line in your dog is a sign of gingivitis.  The gums may also bleed when touched.  Gingivitis is reversible if you clean your dog’s teeth.

If gingivitis gets into the cavity around a tooth, the problem literally deepens.  Gums may recede and expose the bone which can also become infected.  This is full-blown periodontal disease and it can be stopped with a proper dental cleaning but in many cases there is still lasting damage.

As periodontal disease progresses, your dog is at risk of systemic infections where bacteria and associated toxins spread throughout the bloodstream.  Researchers believe there is a connection between dental disease and liver, kidney, lungs and heart problems.

Signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease may include:

  • Bad Breath
  • Regular drooling
  • Difficulty with chewing or eating
  • Vomiting
  • Red or swollen gums which may bleed
  • Tartar on the teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Loose or missing teeth

Many dog owners swear by the ‘bone a day’ rule – that chewing something hard will clean their dog’s teeth.  However, more veterinarians recommend teeth brushing now than ever before and they will check your dog’s teeth at their annual check-up.

Dog toothpastes are available in flavours like chicken, beef, malt and vanilla and most dogs will rapidly get accustomed to having their teeth brushed.  It can be a game and the toothpaste is the reward.