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Tag: Health

Are you using the right dog toothbrush? – You may be surprised

If your dog has less love for her toothbrush than her rib bone, she is obviously not alone. Haha!

But if you read Dental Scaling under General Anaesthesia! Oh no! on this blog in June then perhaps you would agree with me that teeth brushing is an important routine for the dog, regardless of her, ahem, lack of fondness for her toothbrush.

In this post, I’m will go through:

  • How regularly we’re brushing Donna’s teeth
  • How I tried to help Donna like her tooth brush
  • The pet toothbrush that didn’t work for Donna
  • The pet toothbrush that worked for Donna
  • How to brush a dog’s teeth
  • And is it really true that we can’t use human toothbrushes for dogs?


Regular toothbrushing keeps dog’s teeth clean and gums healthy

I try to brush Donna’s teeth every day. Plaque starts forming on teeth 4 to 12 hours after brushing so it seems to be me that at least once a day will help remove plague more efficiently than 2-3 times a week.

When plaque is not removed, it hardens to become tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional. So of course I would want to remove plague effectively now than to pay more money more frequently for dental work at the vet. More about.

It’s not Donna’s favourite routine. And I have to admit that Donna’s lack of love of her toothbrush largely stemmed from the human’s bungling tooth brushing skills.


Helping Donna get used to having a toothbrush in her mouth

I did alright at first. I helped her like her toothbrush by making it part of a fun game of fetch…

… although she did attempt to chew off the plastic handle at some point. Hmmm…

And she liked the flavour of the toothpaste I bought whether it was mint or poultry flavour.

But there was a one thing I did wrong.


I bought the wrong toothbrush for Donna

Being a dog newbie at the time, I decided to buy a dental kit that will give me both toothpaste and toothbrush. The pet shop offered a modest selection.

I chose the TropiClean dental kit based on the following:

  • word of mouth recommendation
  • two choices of toothbrushes to experiment with
  • all the products in one pack, no need to think about what brand toothpaste to buy
  • fancy toothbrush, I thought it could reach all the teeth surfaces better since it’s multi-dimensional
  • vet recommended label

Tropiclean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover Pet Oral Care Kit, Large
Tropiclean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover Pet Oral Care Kit, Large

But this kit was the wrong kit for Donna because:

  • Donna’s mouth was small and narrow and it was hard to use the finger brush in her mouth
  • The TripleFlex technology toothbrush has hard bristles. I imagine it hurt to brush with it because Donna more with this toothbrush and I could sometimes see blood on it after brushing her teeth!!

No wonder Donna hated the toothbrush!


I bought a less fancy but better toothbrush for Donna

So the next time round, I bought the less fancy looking Virbac C.E.T Home Dental Kit.

C.E.T. Duel-End Toothbrush, Fingerbrush & Enzymatic Toothpaste Oral Hygiene Kit
C.E.T. Duel-End Toothbrush, Fingerbrush & Enzymatic Toothpaste Oral Hygiene Kit

I chose the Virbac dental kit based on the following:

  • Recognisable brand carried by Donna’s Vet
  • Option for a small bristle toothbrush head to brush Donna’s small teeth in her narrow mouth
  • Softer bristles compared to the TropiClean brush
  • Enzymatic toothpaste – antibacterial so it inhibits the formation of plague

Virbac CET versus TropiClean toothbrush

The switch in toothbrushes was a success!

Donna is now less resistant to brushing her teeth compared to previously. And while she still doesn’t love her toothbrush that much, at least she didn’t hate it as much as before!

The best thing?

No more bleeding gums when I brush her teeth!

Now that we’ve settled on the toothbrush, there’s still the matter of how exactly do you brush the dog’s teeth?


How do you brush your dog’s teeth?

I admit, I am the thorough and fastidious sort.

As a child in primary school, I used to follow exactly what the school dentist taught us as we squatted along the drain to brush our teeth together – you brush from your gum outwards with exactly ten strokes each and slowly proceed from one end of your set of teeth to the other end. And you repeat that with the teeth facing the inside of your cheeks and also the side of your teeth in your mouth cavity, and of course both top and bottom sets of teeth, etc, etc, etc.

I didn’t subject Donna to this of course, but I did try to be thorough for her good dental health. *Oops!*

But according to this video, dog teeth brushing appears to be a lot easier than what I was trying to do with Donna. So, go see if you would like to have a reference. If you have trouble playing the video, you can also check out the slideshow here.

While the video says that the finger toothbrush works just as well as the bristle toothbrush, be aware of the strength you use when brushing your dog’s teeth. Toa Payoh Vets has this case study of a Miniature Schnauzer with two loose front teeth and exposed roots. Brushing too vigorously can cause the dogs to experience receding gums, which is not good for them.

And if you’re extremely interested (haha!), here’s the recommended brushing technique, as used in the VOHC trials, available here – VOHC Brushing Protocol.


So they say you can’t use a human toothbrush for the dog’s teeth… is that true?

Every webpage I read when I researched dog teeth brushing tells me the dog needs to have a specialised dog toothbrush.

But why?

Is it the way the brush head is angled to enable the human to brush a pet’s teeth more easily?

dog versus human toothbrush

It certainly didn’t seem like a more complex toothbrush design helped Donna, compared to the simpler toothbrush we bought later on…

tropiclean triple toothbrush

Imagine my surprise when I read the following on the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) webpage for Products Awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance because they met “VOHC’s standards for effectiveness in retarding plaque and tartar when used as directed”.

ADA-compliant soft-bristle, flat head toothbrush

The only toothbrush that occurs in the all the dental products listed the accepted products list is “a tooth brush compliant with the American Dental Association standard ISO 20126:2005“.

And a ‘child-sized brush with soft bristles and a flat profile head was used in dogs in a trial conducted according to VOHC protocols…. The ADA standard ensures that the bristles have rounded tips to avoid damaging the gums‘.

Is it just me or does it seem like we’re better off using child tooth brushes compliant to the ISO standard for our dogs???

Note: VOHC is not a regulatory agency. Submission of results of clinical trials to VOHC on behalf of a product is voluntary. More here.

That’s certainly something that confused me. And I guess I won’t be so quick to express doubt when someone tells me they are using child toothbrushes on their dog next time round. ; )

tongue out tuesday

Do you brush your dog’s teeth?
What sort of toothbrush and toothpaste do you like to use?

Some products on Amazon with VOHC Seal of Acceptance

Milk-Bone Brushing Chews Daily Dental Treats – Small/Medium Value Pack, 22 Ounce – 28 Bones

Greenies Dental Chews for Dogs, Regular, Pack of 27


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A white patch on my dog’s paw pad

white patch on my dog's paw padDonna went for her annual vacinnation today! FB post here, and please like our page while you are at it. Thank you! :P Donna also had this spotty white patch on her paw pad. The vet advised us to just continue observing it. Happily, it disappeared after a few months! For anyone with similar concerns, here are the details.

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This is how we weigh the dog

For a while there, every time we visited the vet we were informed that Donna’s weight had gone up again. The vet is an hour’s walk away, so it didn’t make sense to walk our overweight dog over in the hot sun just to weigh her regularly. A two-hour walk there and back is generally too much for our princess dog to handle as well. Donna is not handbag size, and she gets worried when her feet are not firmly on the ground, so the best way to weigh her is to get her to get on our digital weighing scale (for humans :P) herself. Hah!!

But of course, she did have this habit where she will view all new things I try to introduce to her suspiciously. So it took time to get her to get on the weighing scale on her own accord. Practising doggy parkour outside helped a lot. Once, she got the concept of “up-up” outside, she totally got that I wanted her to get on the weighing scale. Doesn’t mean she is that happy to be there though.

this is how we weigh the dog - on the human's bathroom scale!
This is how we weigh the dog – on the human’s weighing scale!

And since she was supposed to be on a diet, we had to cut back on the treats. So I ended up giving her her meals while she sat on the weighing machine.

this is how we weigh the dog, by training Donna to stay on the weighing scale.
Conditioning the dog to like being on the weighing scale by giving her food rewards in that position

Pretty soon she had cued in to what was happening and couldn’t wait to hop on the weighing scale and go into an automatic sit the minute it landed on the floor. But in the case of this video below, she was perhaps getting bored of the exercise because it was the 3rd or 4th take already :P

First time for me using the vine app to take looping videos. It takes some getting use to as one needs to tap and hold in order to record the video. The first take was bad because towards the end her head got cut off by the frame :P

While it took some time to get a good 6-second take on Vine, the actual posting of the video thereafter was quick and easy. However, this also means that there is no selection of filters that one can apply to the video and there is no small list of music to layer over the movie, in the case of people like me, who cringe to hear myself speaking on the video :P

Is your dog having success at doing something you have trained together? Fame him :) Details on eileenanddogs.

Our dog has curves! Wooo~

Fat, lazing around pets. The tragedy of pets living in small apartments with busy working humans? A result of over feeding or treating? Perhaps we were guilty of both.
Feeding a pet plenty of food is not kindness to a cat/dog. Check out Paying the Price of a Fat Pet and also Health Risks in Overweight/Obese Dogs to be in the know.

So I wrote that our dog had been consistently gaining weight towards the end of a recent post, until we took steps to cut back on fatty canned food, take her out to more exercise (which our fat dog had no stamina for really…)  and get our fat dog on her feet more often at home. Ok, technically she was just overweight, not obese, but she did look like a huge lazy lump pictured above right?

If Donna has a voice: “Oy, who you calling fat!”

Anyway, Donna finally has curves…the right ones. You know, not that curving bulge in her tummy or around her ribs and rump.

If Donna has a voice: “Oy, stop calling me fat! I am warning you.”

Actually you know she doesn’t care. Donna’s true voice:

Gimme food. Food good. I eat more food at the shelter than here. I can even eat all the good stuff in Buddy’s (her cellmate) food and leave him with the leftovers. That old man dog is nice to me, not like you.

You can of course appreciate why Buddy got skinnier as the fat dog got fatter eating two shares of food. Poor buddy. Now where was I?

Oh yes, as I was saying, this not so little girl has some curves going in the right direction now, woohoo~

You can view the bigger chart here, via Fat dog to skinny dog: How we did it.

The last we weighed, Donna was around 15.4-15.6kg. For this weight, the vet had advise that she was still over weight but Donna can stay around this range if she does not gain any more weight. Given the vet’s feedback, Donna is perhaps at 6 according to the chart. Abdominal tuck apparent, discernible waist but my untrained eyes can’t really see her ribs. Heh. :P

Finishing up this post with the continued objectification of my dog to further explore the topic of “Curves” in the weekly photo challenge. :P

The curves of her black and tan coat and her dew claw.

The curves of her short hair as they work their way around the curves of her legs. I particularly like this last one of her legs.

Forbidden… but allowed on a case-by-case basis

She vexed me today. We came home to find the dog was doing a little interior rearrangement of her own. A vase of roses toppled, the water spilled on the floor and laid stagnant about and under the TV console. That must have surprised and made her nervous. As I scolded and cleaned, I could find traces of saliva dripped in various corners of the living room and corridor.

“Bad girl. Bad. Bad.” went my almost monotone voice. I don’t scream at her but the human still needed to let out some frustration. And since I was cleaning anyway, my frustration went ahead to wipe the white TV console more thoroughly than normal and of course the floor behind and under it. “Bad. Bad.”

I was at the doctor this morning and tired. So I left her alone after I cleaned up to get my own rest. Perhaps an hour later, I heard strange noises that I thought could be her woofing a little in her sleep. Came out of the room to find her in the toilet puking on the newspapers and pee pad.

The two thoughts – worry and “thank god this dog is smart enough to go do it in the toilet” – occurred simultaneously.

“Good. Good girl!” I petted her gently and clapped, half hoping to lighten the mood so she doesn’t feel so awful and half hoping the praise will cement in her brain that ALL future episodes of puking should happen here. “Good job. Good girl.”

That was before I saw the two more puddles of vomit on her bed and another before her bed. She probably did not have the time to head for the toilet so she threw up all her breakfast, and guess what, bits of dried flowers and rose leaf there. I had mistaken her food tasting and self-intoxication session for interior redesign. = =!!!

She was to vomit 8 times in total. The last time, she set on the pee pad and she struggled a bit, her muzzle pinched looking before she threw up mostly white phlegm-looking liquid. Then it was almost as if she was exhausted, she shook off my petting hand and walked away from me to settled down on her own on the floor.

Her bed, grossly soaked and packed with soggy kibble, canned food, barley and the incriminating dried floral arrangement, was packed and dumped in the garbage. So now my sick dog is one bed short. THIS is the reason my friends why a dog should have at least TWO cheap beds and not one ridiculously over-priced bed from the pet shop. I feel so affirmed. Haha! :P

It started to thunder and rain. So today, for the comfort and ease of my poor sick dog, the forbidden study is not forbidden. (I hold my breath that she does not puke again in the study!)

The scenario is pretty similar to the last time she tried to intoxicate herself with a hydrangea leaf, except that that was one quarter of an extremely toxic leaf. So now on top of instituting the forbidden balcony, Mr P will have to consider more carefully when he buys flowers for his wife in future.

But no, that is not why she is behind bars in this picture. Haha :P

LIFE… as it happened. 

Theoretically, Donna should be a forbidden subject since mongrels are not HDB-approved by default. You could seek approval but it is subject to approval on a case-by-case basis. And in the case where the dog is not approved, you need to rehome the dog. – –

On the micro-level, our household operates with similar methodology. Donna knows what’s forbidden about the house – the sofa, the kitchen, the rooms – unless we explicitly lets her on or in them. Barricades, like the child gate we’ve installed, are so effective in communicating boundaries.

I like to think our household governance is more compassionate than…. bureaucracy. Most people would have that preference.

Humans are not so easily deterred by rules and regulations. Our eyes seek out the holes and the cracks that sneaks us a peek into what lies behind the barricade. Sure we read the sign-posted “No Entry” disclaimers. But even before the developer was ready to hand over the keys, some more enterprising future neighbours of ours had already sneaked into the development to take pictures and videos of the corridors and the unlocked units.

The Sign Says… doesn’t mean people and dogs will follow.

Interesting isn’t it, how things forbidden present the most desirable adventures to humans and dogs alike.

That’s the answer to why that dog was behind bars in the forbidden kitchen in the first picture. She sneaked in, but unlike our human neighbours, she couldn’t sneak out again. :P

when to take a vomiting dog to a vet
ASPCA dog care – vomiting

Donna and the poisonous leaf

Even before the fish and the dog came along, we had the plants. My very blighted wrightia religiosa, my blighted by association dracaena frangrans on one end of the balcony and on the other end, my water sucking hydrangea.

The hydrangea is not a very common or popular houseplant in my country, I don’t think. Except over Chinese New Year, when households will buy for decorative purposes and then throw away. So it is probably not common knowledge over here at least that the hydrangea is poisonous to dogs.

Hydrangeas are one of those interesting plants with cyanogenic glycosides. Basically, this means that under times of stress, the plant can have available CYANIDE, which is extremely toxic…The plant does contain irritants that can cause Gastrointestinal irritation (GI), and most of the time mild self-limiting GI upset can be seen – mild vomiting and diarrhea. In larger ingestion, you can see more severe vomiting and diarrhea, and hyperthermia has been reported. Some cases can develop vomiting or diarrhea with blood. The treatment for hydrangea toxicity is supportive / symptomatic care. – via justanswer.com

I love the large bushels of flowers that the plant produces, so we never really considered getting rid of the plant for the dog’s safety. And Donna had scant curiosity for the plant anyway, she spent most of her time in the living room and I can count on one hand the number of times she ventured onto the balcony by herself.

And so we thought we could trust her to leave the plant alone.

Aigh… our complacency had its downfall.

I suppose it was inevitable Donna eventually decided to sample a leaf.

I was in the kitchen at the time but could hear her bell and tag clanking from the balcony. As usual, I went to check because we don’t really think the balcony is the safest place for the dog considering the posionous plant and the potential for free fall down more than 20 floors to smack on the landscape garden below.

I was too late to witness anything but the circumstantial evidence.

A quarter of a leaf torn off. Half of it spat on the floor. The other half not in her mouth, but one can smell the zesty scent of greenery hurriedly swallowed in that recalcitrant maw of hers.

I was vexed. I didn’t know what to do, or what was going to happen. Perhaps she could detect I was vexed, she gave me gentle licks on my leg as I stood watching the bit of leaf lying limply on the floor.

She was lively still, hardly dying.

Should I make her drink lots of water? Not that I know how to do that. She drank at her own time, her own discretion.

Should I still feed her her dinner that was already on the kitchen counter.

The vet’s reception was always busy. They didn’t pick up my phone call. I sent an email. I googled.

I found an answer here.

Since she seems fine now, she’s probably going to be ok, although is she’s showing any signs of respiratory distress, take her immediately to your veterinarian.

For now, I would not feed her for 12 hours to allow her GI tract to settle. You can offer her small amounts of water beginning 2 hours after her last vomiting episode – if she can hold down the water, you can slowly allow her to have more at 1 time, until you can leave the bowl down for her.

When you do feed her, I would recommend a bland diet for 1-2 days of boiled chicken and rice – fat free, and a little broth, just to be on the safe side. She could have a very irritated or even ulcerated stomach lining. No treats or human food for 3-5 days.

You can also administer 1/2 of a 10 mg pepcid (if you have one) when you begin offering water. This may help with stomach upset, and can be repeated every 12-24 hours.

If she continues to vomit, or develops other symptoms, please see your vet.

Since it didn’t seem advisable to feed her and the rain had stopped, I took her out for a slow leisurely walk, which is something that we usually do at that time of day anyway. Perhaps fifteen minutes later, Donna started to vomit. A small round pile of yellowish muck about the size of a mug. And she would continue to hurl five times more. When she ran out of yellowish muck, she puked white foam.

Apart from the times she sat down and threw up, she was still very active and spent no time wasted inspecting the grass.

But by the sixth time, we decided enough is enough and took her to the vet.

Like the last time we were there as a walk in, we were the last to see the vet. The vet tech recommended no water for Donna while we waited. A patch of hair on her neck was shaved off, a blood test was done.

The results, the levels for her liver was slightly high, about 10points higher than normal. Otherwise, she wasn’t in any pain or discomfort, being still lively and frankly recalcitrant and perhaps unaware of her misadventure.

But oh is she serving her penance now, in the form of regular doses of disgusting gut protecting pills and supplements containing milkthistle among other things. She hates the minty taste and snorts her disgust every time I shoot the liquid down her throat with a syringe. What to do? Doctor’s orders.

Another blood test two days later found her liver levels normal again.

And we are now vigilantly closing balcony doors whenever we are not in the living room with her!

Pictured left: Donna at the vet looking at the cleaner vacuuming the floor on the other end after closing time. We were still waiting to pay vet bills and to get her medication. It wasn’t too bad since we could laugh at “The Noose” which was playing on TV.

Scratching and allergies

Well, food could be one factor. We heard Doudou’s scratching got noticeably less after my cousin’s boyfriend changed the kibble she was having to a better quality fish-based kibble.

The Animal Recovery Centre does have this interesting section in their article on Nutritional Influences on Illnesses in Small Animals.

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DIY dog spray – calm, deodorise, repel fleas, mosquitoes!

With this dog spray, keep fleas and mossie away during outdoor walks, disinfect and deodorise after dog walks!I made this dog spray quite some time ago but didn’t use it that often because for a while Donna was fearful of being sprayed at. But what with the insect bite allergy, scratching and some skin abrasion, I probably should start using it more often. Here’s the instructions for making your own!

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