A couple of weeks ago while I was up in Hamlet’s face snuggling Hamlet on the couch I noticed that his breath smelled. Not the horrible, awful, no good, very bad dog breath that some dogs get. Just a little more stinky than his otherwise neutral breath. His breath hasn’t ever smelled in the six months that we’ve had him so far but I now consider this to be by the grace of the Dog God because we haven’t ever brushed his teeth.
I know – I’m a horrible dog owner! The training DVD that came with the training book we bought when we adopted Hamlet said you should brush your dog’s teeth once a day. Once! A! Day! I’m sorry but that seemed excessive to me so I made it my goal to brush Ham’s once per week. I did really well, too, brushing his teeth all of zero times in the first six months we had him. What was my excuse, you ask? As previously stated, I’m a horrible dog owner. I almost completely forgot. I hadn’t purchased his toothbrush and toothpaste yet.
In any case, the smelly breath was the catalyst to Ham getting his teeth brushed. After purchasing this canine toothbrush kit at Target, we were in business. The kit includes a toothbrush, canine toothpaste, and a fingertip toothbrush. The fingertip brush fits over the top of your finger so you don’t have to wrangle your dog’s mouth open and dexterously maneuver a traditional toothbrush at the same time. Hamlet is very patient about most things (getting his harness or t-shirt on and off, getting his nails trimmed) but I don’t know many dogs that like to have their mouths opened by humans so the finger brush is my new best friend.
The kit says to feed the dog a bit of toothpaste so they can get used to it and then proceed with brushing. I thought Ham would be gung-ho (is it “gung-ho” or “gun-ho”? I’m using “gung” as “gun” sounds a bit aggressive for the Ham) for toothpaste. He LOVES human toothpaste, after all. I know this because he smells it when I brush my teeth and comes a-runnin’ to the bathroom, sits down on the bath mat, and patiently waits and hopes for toothpaste-foamy drool to drop on the floor. Or he will lick it off my face if I make the mistake of sitting on the bed while brushing my teeth. Or sometimes I feed him a small dollop off my finger. I don’t feel bad about the feeding part as a) I reason that it’s minty and helps with his breath, b) he loves the taste, c) it’s probably low-cal, and d) after purchasing the dog stuff, I discovered it’s essentially the same ingredients.
Back to the task at hand – dog tooth brushing! As directed, I fed him some canine toothpaste so he’d get used to it, thinking he would die and go to heaven over the wonderful taste.
He was less than impressed and kept making a weird face. It was hard to capture on camera because the little guy moves pretty fast but Mike did his best with this one:
I waited a minute or two for him to settle down and not suspect I was up to something. Then I loaded up the finger brush with about half a dime sized amount of paste and peeled back his lips to scrub his pearly whites.
As I expected, this was less than successful. Hamlet’s main goal was to get my fingers out of his mouth and secondarily to close his mouth and get it away from my wiley grip. My grip on his mouth/head wasn’t so wiley after all because peeling back his lips sort of covers up his nose because he is snub-faced. I have to be careful that he can still breathe while I brush. I may have waited six months to brush his teeth but I’m not going to have him pass out for lack of oxygen during the first go-round!
I did my best and reasoned that I would keep at it (once a week) so that he gets used to it and it becomes easier with each brushing.
It’s been two weeks since I last brushed his teeth. So…any recommendations for dog breath fixers? Treats? Mints? Pick your poison and pass them along to a girl in need.
*My apologies for the sub-par quality of the photos. We have a very hard time capturing photos where Hamlet’s eyes are not blue. We’re obviously amateur photogs!