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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News & Views July 2016 Issue

Teeth Brushing, Yes. Hair Cutting, No Longer.

New ways of taking care of Franklin and Rosie.

Long-haired Franklin (and then-long-haired) John enjoying themselves on an island off the coast of Maine several summers ago, when Franklin's "shave" had already grown back.

Okay, I admit it. We haven’t been good about brushing Franklin and Rosie’s teeth. No, scratch that. We simply haven’t been doing it, a lapse made all the more unforgivable by the fact that they don’t just eat dog food. They eat ice cream, sweetened yogurt, a couple of m&ms here and there, cake icing…. Not a lot, but certainly enough that it can’t be good for their teeth.

Constance began giving them treats that claim to clean dogs’ teeth not too long ago, and we did start to notice that they had slower brownish buildup, particularly on the back teeth. And the two of them absolutely love those chewy things. They run up to our bedroom about 20 minutes before we go to sleep because “it’s almost time for those delectable chews,” which they savor and eat guardedly so one doesn’t take the other’s.

But as two veterinary dentists point out in the article beginning on page 1, treats for clean teeth aren’t nearly enough. You can’t get around brushing for a dog’s optimal oral health, and the article explains why.

Fortunately, we’ve discovered that our dogs really enjoy having their teeth brushed and are glad for the nightly ritual. I don’t know if it’s the beef and poultry flavors in the toothpaste, the massaging of the gums, or just the extra attention and soft handling they get from us. But they are both dream dental patients.

Not so all dogs. Some clench their teeth like a vice. Others run from the room. Fortunately, there are oral hygiene solutions for them, too. They’re not as good as plain old brushing, but they’re much, much better than doing nothing. Check out the tips in the article.

I have to add here that as far as being cooperative, long-haired Frank has also been a trooper every summer about having his tresses shaved down a fair bit with an electric trimmer. He never knew why we cut his locks, but he has always had confidence that we were doing right by him.

The thing is, we weren’t, even though we believed that shoring him like a sheep would keep him cool and comfortable each July and August.

Tufts veterinary dermatologist and Your Dog editorial board member Lluis Ferrer, DVM, explains why you shouldn’t trim your dog’s hair for summer in the article beginning on page 14. From now on, Frankie goes through summer with his longish mane, fit for a Breck commercial. Fortunately, he seems to be taking to his new summer look just fine.

Hope your summer is coming along swimmingly, too.

Happy tails to you,

Lawrence Lindner
Executive Editor

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