Hate brushing your Morkie’s teeth? Try this.

Hate brushing your Morkie’s teeth? Try this.

Dog teeth cleaning can be a real pain. Your Morkie hates it. You hate it. It’s a hassle. That’s why I was really excited when I saw the results of this new product. It doesn’t replace everything you need to do for your dog’s dental health, but wow! It goes a long way.

This little pup nabbed her father’s dentures while he was sleeping and this is the result. Read more in People Magazine

Brushing your Morkie’s teeth is about more than that bright smile.

Clean teeth are an important part of his overall health – more than you might imagine.

Keeping ahead of plaque and tartar

Your #1 goal is to keep the clear film called plaque from building up on your dog’s teeth and turning into hard, yellow tartar. You can’t get tartar off with a toothbrush. Now your Morkie needs to have dental cleaning at the Veterinarians. That means he has to be put under anesthetic, with all its associated risks, AND it’s a lot of money.

I tried this water additive, called "TropiClean Fresh Breath" and was blown away by the results

What is it?

Other versions 

You might see a different bottle, and TropiClean is also available in a gel that you wipe on your dog’s teeth, and in different-looking bottles.

How does it work?

TropiClean is an additive you put in your Morkie’s water every day.

It fights the build-up of tartar, and eventual plaque, keeping your dog’s teeth cleaner. (And his breath fresh, yaay!) It works by counteracting bacteria and any fungii.

TropiClean ingredients are:

Purified Water, Glycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Chlorophyll, Zinc Gluconate, Green Tea Leaf Extract*

It seems to work — AND, it has worked to dissolve existing plaque on our big dog’s teeth.

Glycerin is considered a safe, but nutritionally empty ingredient. It is used to bind ingredients and as a sweetener.

Potassium Sorbate is considered safe for both dogs and cats in limited amounts. It is commonly used in semi-moist foods to preserve it. In an ideal world we wouldn’t need preservatives, but of all of them, this is among the safest. (Unsafe preservatives in dog food include ethoxyquin and BHT)

Citric Acid – not to be fondued with Vitamin C which is ascorbic acid. Large amounts can irritate a dog’s digestive tract.

Cetylpyridinium Chloride is used to kill bacteria and fungus in animals and people. Large amounts can cause diarrhea in some dogs.

Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in nearly all plants and algae. It helps to cleanse cells, fight infection, heal wounds and detoxify. (And it’s why many dogs who don’t feel well will instinctively eat grass.)

Zinc Gluconate is highly absorbable and easily used by your dog’s body. It’s an important mineral for overall health, in small, safe amounts. Zinc deficiency can actually be fatal – not that these liquid additives can address shortfalls like that.

Green tea. A small amount will not hurt your dog at all. In large amounts, it can be too stimulating. Holistic Vets strongly recommend it for dogs, horses and even aquarium fish!

Leaf extract is a supplement extracted from the leaves of trees, as you’d expect. It’s a natural antibiotic and antioxidant. Again, holistic Vets are very high on this supplement, especially the olive leaf powder version.

What  about other products?

A note from Deb

deb and tink on webcam

I happened to have this product at home and tried it; when it worked and I decided to share the news, I researched a number of similar products online.

There are similar water additives out there, but I found TropiClean to be the most straightforward, had the best reviews, and was priced well. ( Your Vet can probably offer you something that looks more ‘scientific’ or medical but ca-ching!)

One thing I did read, was that for some dogs, these water additives just didn’t work. But if you think it’s worth a try and better than the toothbrushing struggle, then go for it.

Bunny’s Tale

Another dog joined our household last summer: a Golden Retriever breeding bitch who wasn’t producing.

She came with a stupid name that we changed to Bunny because she is sooo sweet, despite a less-than-ideal upbringing in a professional kennel/breeder’s facility. For example, she had never encountered stairs, or living room furniture or potato chips.

Anyway… her teeth were super-disgusting.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a before picture of them, but they looked exactly like the one at top right. Ugh. We plan to have her teeth properly cleaned and scaled by the Vet but in the meantime, I tried TropiClean on her.  AMAZING results as  you can see in Bunny’s picture, bottom right.

This is exactly how poor Bunny's teeth looked before.

This is exactly how poor Bunny’s teeth looked before.

After about two weeks, Bunny's teeth are far from perfect, but they are a LOT better and her breath is good.

After about two weeks, Bunny’s teeth are far from perfect, but they are a LOT better and her breath is good.

Where can you get TropiClean Fresh Breath?

Try your local pet store, or get it at Amazon.com or from other sites including Chewy.com and Petsmart.com

Is your dog's dental work covered by insurance?

Some pet insurance programs include dental care as part of wellness coverage. These policies may help cover regular cleaning, accidental damage, or both. Look at plans that include routine care and wellness procedures as well as major health events.

Read more about how this works, here on PetsQuote.com 


How many teeth do dogs have anyway?

Lots more than us! Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth (we have 32, not counting any wisdom teeth). Puppies have 28 baby teeth which they'll lose starting around 12 weeks.

Your dog's overall diet is key to his good health, including dental health. But myths like "kibble helps clean your dog's teeth" are just that - myths. If hard crunch food cleaned teeth, wouldn't we eat a lot more potato chips?

Can I use my own toothpaste on my dog?

NO! Our toothpaste is very bad for dogs. Most toothpaste contains FLUORIDE which is poisonous to dogs.

You can buy special dog-formulated toothpaste, or simply use baking soda. Or, find some Make-It-Yourself recipes for dog toothpaste here at care.com

Can dogs regrow their teeth?

No they can't. Only sharks can regrow teeth. That's why we have to take good care of our teeth, and our dog's. Sharks, nah.

What's that HUGE tooth in the middle of my dog's jaw?

This is the largest tooth in your dog's mouth and it's called the carnassial. It has three long roots that extend right up into your dog's sinuses. If an abscess forms, it can look like a serious eye infection.


Can I use Listerine for my dog's bad breath?

NOOOO! Most mouthwashes for us contain a great deal of alcohol, among other poisonous ingredients. and dogs will definitely swallow mouthwash, unlike most of us 🙂

TOMORROW: Dog bad breath

The OTHER single best thing you can do for your Morkie

The OTHER single best thing you can do for your Morkie

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the single best thing you can do for your Morkie’s health and longevity: a daily walk.

But there’s actually one more key thing if you want your Morkie to have a long and healthy life, and that’s look after his teeth. That includes brushing and regular dental care.

What’s so important about dental care for dogs?

When bacteria builds up on you dog’s teeth it can lead to oral disease and increase the risk for disease in organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys, according to research.

That’s because the bacteria can make its way into the bloodstream and travel throughout their little bodies.

And like humans, dogs can get cavities and painful abscesses. They just can’t tell us about it 🙁

Why are Morkie’s teeth so bad?

An extreme example of bad teeth – rotting, covered in plaque

Any dogs that have been bred down in size usually have very tightly packed teeth, too many for the small jaw. Dogs should have quite a bit of space between teeth so food doesn’t get caught and then rot.

Yorkies are renowned for very, very bad teeth – so weak and crammed in that most of their teeth have some level of decay by the age of 2.

And, they have VERY stinky breath as a result.

The 3 Ds of tooth care for your Morkie

I like to call the solution the 3 Ds:

  1. Daily Cleaning
  2. Dentistry
  3. Diet


The First D: Daily Cleaning

You can brush your dog’s teeth with special canine toothpaste (NEVER use people paste – it’s poisonous and your dog is more than likely going to swallow it)

Don’t be too ambitious at first. Gently lift his lip and rub in circular motions along the gum line with a very soft brush, or a finger brush:


Your dog won’t like it much, so keep the first sessions short, gradually doing a more thorough job as he’s more comfortable.

Sprays, Gels and Wipes?

Some dog owners and experts recommend using the new oral sprays and gels in combination. Two popular brands are Petzlife and Plaque Attack.

They work in similar ways – both are advertised as made with 100% natural ingredients. The main ingredient is grapefruit seed extract so it’s safe for both cats and dogs..

The ingredients mix with your pet’s saliva and completely coat your pet’s teeth and mouth. This kills harmful bacteria and loosens plaque and tartar.

The results will depend on how closely you follow the directions, the age of your pet, and the current condition of your Morkie’s teeth. You should notice a gradual reduction of tartar and plaque between the tooth and the gum line and less redness within the first few weeks of application.


The Second D: Dentistry

Brushing your dogs teethDog dentistry was quite rare until the 1980s, when Veterinarians and dog owners began to make the connection between dental health and the dog’s overall health.

Reasons for dentistry for your dog:

Scaling and Cleaning – If you don’t clean your dog’s teeth, chances are you’ll have to get his teeth scaled at some point to remove the extreme buildup; that means anesthetic and a fairly large expense.
If you’re cleaning your Morkie’s teeth regularly, this scaling can sometimes be done without putting the dog under – reducing risks and keeping your dog more calm.
Dental fractures – very common in dogs, and must be treated right away if the tooth’s pulp is exposed. This exposed pulp is not only very painful, but also becomes dead tissue (or necrotic as scientists call it). This in turn can lead to a very painful “tooth abscess” making a root canal necessary.

Oral surgery

The most common kinds of oral surgeries for dogs are:

  • extractions – unfortunately not all teeth can be saved and extraction is often the only choice. At least techniques have improved to minimize the pain and discomfort.
  • jaw fracture repair – this is a fairly common injury after a major traumatic event like a car accident. Again, new techniques have speeded our pets’ progress and comfort.
  • oral tumour management – sadly, the same type of oral cancer that frequently occurs in people, is also the most common type in the dog. Watch for lesions, sores, masses or swellings in your Morkie’s mouth and report any to the Vet right away.

The 3rd D: Diet

There are two interesting – and opposite – schools of thought on how your dog’s diet can help his dental health.

The 2 points of view about dog food: an it help clean your dog’s teeth or not?

For the YES side…

  • some experts believe that certain foods work a bit like a toothbrush because they help “rub” the teeth clean
  • this cleaning action is sometimes called ‘natural dietary abrasion’
  • when your dog grinds, chews, grips, chomps and rips its food it helps the teeth, gums and jaw

Dogs who eat lots of soft foods don’t benefit from natural dietary abrasion. Soft foods include canned food, and also home-made food that’s well cooked. Dogs on soft diets can end up with worse teeth and gums that dogs on natural, meaty, and raw diets.


Unfortunately there are no dentures for dogs.

Some of the best foods for cleaning your dog’s teeth? Raw meaty bones are excellent toothbrushes. Please note: these bones must be RAW. Make sure there is still some meat on the bone. Try raw chicken necks, turkey necks and chicken wings.

These bones are generally considered safe and digestible for most dogs. However, uncooked meat can carry bacteria that can be hazardous to both pets and humans. So, use caution and common sense when handling raw bones.

NEVER GIVE YOUR DOG COOKED BONES – they splinter easily and can perforate intestines and worse.

Rawhide and leather chews are often recommended, but I’m strongly against these now. They’re full of deadly bacteria, and when they get slimy after some chewing, they are a serious choking hazard.

On the NO Side….

On the other side, there’s “Dry Dog Food and the Myth of Cleaner Teeth.” One expert, Mike Sagman of the DogFoodAdvisor.com site comments,

“Imagine going to your dentist and being told to forget your toothbrush. Because all you really need for good dental health… is to simply eat a few crunchy tortilla chips every day.

And like magic… your teeth will be sparkling clean. Sound absurd? Well, yes it is!”

As Mike points out, there are three kinds of dental debris…

  • Food particles
  • Plaque
  • Tartar – a result of plaque

Drinking water gets rid of most food particles; dogs’ teeth are spaced so far apart it they don’t usually trap food.

Plaque — the sticky biofilm that adheres tightly to every tooth surface –requires physical scrubbing to remove it. And once cleaned away… plaque returns again within just 24 hours. Left along the gum line long enough, plaque slowly and inevitably turns into a rock-hard, barnacle-like crust referred to as tartar.
Plaque is what you remove with your toothbrush. Tartar is the hard stuff your dentist scrapes away when you get your teeth cleaned.
What kibble does for teeth
While crunchy kibble can remove some of the plaque near the tops of a dog’s teeth, it’s completely ineffective within the critical zone near the gum line. And that’s where plaque and tartar do their ultimate damage… causing cavities and gum disease.


Dry dog food does not help create healthier teeth and gums

In fact, since most kibbles are loaded with a much higher carbohydrate content… dry dog foods may actually increase plaque and tartar levels… and cause more dental problems than they supposedly prevent. It’s OK to pick dry kibble over canned food, but don’t choose it because you believe it’s better for your dog’s teeth.

In conclusion

  • brushing your Morkie’s teeth daily is the single best way to care for his pearly whites. Can’t do daily? Even once a week – make it say, every Saturday – and do a thorough job.
  • watch for tartar build up and get it removed by your Veterinarian, sooner than later. At the same time, your Vet will look for decayed or loose teeth.
  • although gels, sprays, special chews like the green mini toothbrush – can’t hurt, don’t count on them as the only solution


Dog Teeth Cleaning

Dog Teeth Cleaning

denture-my-dogTime to talk teeth, before February is over because it’s National Pet Dental Month.

Why are your Morkie’s teeth so important? Like you, she gets just one adult set, and she needs them to eat properly, to grind and tear her food for good digestion.

And also like you, your Morkie can suffer from cavities and painful abscesses.  More serious dental problems like gum disease can lead to chronic pain, missing teeth, eroded gums and even bone loss.

Signs of dental distress

  • stinky dog breath
  • red swollen gums
  • bleeding gums

Dogs can’t tell us they have a toothache, so it can be hard to spot dental disease until it’s quite advanced.

It’s worse than just doggy breath

Left untreated, dental disease can lead to devastating results. Dogs with unchecked gum inflammation may be at higher risk for heart, kidney, and liver disease. That’s because bacteria from the mouth constantly enters the blood stream and can cling to to the arteries surrounding the heart and other organs.

A big problem for small dogs

Gum disease is 5X more common in dogs that humans. One reason why is because a dog’s mouth is much more alkaline than ours, which encourages plaque to form quickly.

And like their parent Yorkie and Maltese dogs, Morkies have very small jaws, with teeth very close together, often jammed in. That gives food particles good hiding places to turn into bacteria, tartar and plaque.

Stop the cycle before it begins

As you can see from the diagram below, it’s easy to stop plaque, tartar and gum disease and tooth decay with regular brushing.

As the teeth grind up food, debris accumulates on the tooth surface and attracts bacteria. This build up of food fragments and bacteria is called plaque. Plaque can be brushed away when it’s done regularly.

before and after plaque attackBut i
f plaque isn’t brushed away, mineral deposits cause it to harden on the teeth. This is called tartar.  Tarter can be spotted as dark yellow or brown accumulations on the teeth. It’s very difficult to remove; in fact, your Vet must remove it with dental treatment.  If left untreated, plaque can lead to damage of the gums (gingivitis) or the jawbones and teeth (periodontitis).

Next to ear problems tartar and gingivitis are the most common reasons dogs are seen by Veterinarians.

Your goal is to clean the plaque off your dog’s teeth, so that it doesn’t build up and become tartar. Daily brushing will do the trick!

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