According to BlogPaws.com, September is Pet Smile Month. It was news to me along with a kick-in-the-butt reminder to give my loveable surviving sheltie, Marti, more frequent teeth brushing.
I remember when I first got Maverick, my Heart Dog, who passed away this summer, I was surprised to learn that dental health for dogs is just as important as it is for us. This is a tad embarrassing to admit because why wouldn’t it? Poor dental health can lead to foul breath, gum disease, and rotting teeth, which unfortunately can lead to your Heart Dog having pain they can’t tell you about and dental extractions may eventually be required. I learned about this the hard way when Maverick was 10 years old and needed the entire bottom row of his front teeth removed. This affected his ability to eat his favourite treats and holding a ball in his mouth while playing fetch - a favourite pastime - became a challenge.
So admittedly, while I have tried to keep Maverick & Marti’s smiles as picture perfect as possible, I could have done much better over the years. I am definitely better now than I was in their early years with regular brushing being part of their dental routine. They actually really enjoy it! Maverick in particular would come trotting along the second he noticed the toothpaste in my hand. He and Marti both enjoy having some extra toothpaste licks after their brushing. I use what is deemed a “natural” paste but come to think of it, I have never looked into exactly how healthy these products are. Now that I consider myself an official dog blogger, I will be making it a mission to learn more about good dental products for my dogs and will be sure to share. This will be especially important if/when I get a new puppy so I can up my measly C- in canine dental care to an A+ over his lifetime.
Side note: The sheltie breeder has sent me some recent pictures of the two available pups at 4-weeks old and let me tell you, they are too cute for words. One in particular reminds me soooo much of Maverick (as a reminder, I wrote a few weeks back about how I am contemplating getting a puppy this Fall from the few remaining dogs in Maverick’s lineage). I will definitely have some updates soon about new sheltie puppy decisions, so keep an eye out!
So what’s the bottom line when it comes to keeping your Heart Dog’s smile as perfect as “paw”sible? First, give yourself an honest rating of how well you care for their teeth and then make a plan of action for improvement. Improvement doesn’t have to mean perfection but every small, consistent step helps to make your furry pack as healthy as can be (just like it does for us!)
How would you rate your doggie dental care? Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for those of us trying to improve our rating?
I have shared before that I started making homemade dog food when Maverick was first diagnosed with lymphoma last summer. I also suggested making homemade food as a long weekend activity to make your Heart Dog love you even more (not that it's possible, but you know what I mean :))
Just in case you're not yet convinced, I thought I'd share today the healthy food concoction I recently made for Marti (Maverick's sister).
Full disclosure: I am not an expert in canine nutrition. I am for humans though! As a registered dietitian, I have full confidence pointing you in the right direction for planning healthy, balanced meals but this skill set is not exactly transferable to dogs. They have different anatomy which affects their nutritional needs. Learning more about canine nutrition is definitely on my "to-do" list but please simply take my advice as inspiration and first consult with your veterinarian prior to changing your Heart Dog's diet (especially if they have a medical condition or other unique health needs).
Ready for the 5 simple steps? Good! :o)
Step 1: Prepare ingredients
Step 2: Add dark green veggies such as spinach or kale (you can add them to the frying pan or pot of orange vegetables). Use lots because they contain loads of water and significantly wilt down in size.
Step 3: Mix ingredients together (ratio of 1:1:1 rice/meat or fish/vegetables)
Tip: Keep some of the water from the boiled vegetables to make it easier to mix your canine creation together.
As a bonus, you can add the following:
Once your lick-worthy concoction is made (warning: you may be tempted to try it yourself!), store in glass containers. Keep one in your fridge and the rest in your freezer until you need it (to prevent food spoilage). As soon as your batch has cooled, spoon some up in your Heart Dog's favourite dish and watch them indulge (second warning: piranha like feeding may ensue so please keep all fingers and toes away from your Heart Dog's bowl ;))
Do you feed your Heart Dog homemade food? Why or why not? Are there any additional ingredients you'd like to suggest?
How can this blog help you?
This website and blog originated from the experience of learning to let go of my beloved Heart Dog, Maverick. By sharing my story and offering the opportunity for you to share yours, I hope we can all truly celebrate their lives. pay tribute, and heal from the loss of our one true canine companion. I hope this website will also raise awareness of the meaning of a Heart Dog because it is a concept that is not largely understood.