Dog Jaw Chattering and Dental Health

dog dental health photo
Dental care is more than just brushing.
Have you ever seen your dog’s jaw chatter? It might have happened for a split second when he was super excited for you to throw the ball, or maybe you’ve seen it and brushed it off as just a weird thing he does sometimes but didn’t think it was anything serious. I’m sharing this personal story in hope that it will help someone out there who is reading everything they can find on the internet about dog jaw chattering.

I’ve raised my little girl on home prepared and raw food. When she was younger, I gave her raw meaty bones and believed that was the best thing I could do for her dental health. Unfortunately, she broke a couple teeth chewing on the bones and had to have two root canals.

After the root canals, she could no longer have hard bones or traditional dental bones because the teeth are a lot more fragile after they’ve had work done.  Since then, I’ve brushed her teeth twice a day, every day for years.

Because my little one is older now and I like to stay as holistic as possible, I didn’t want my girl to go under general anesthesia. I had her teeth professionally cleaned one time after the root canals, which was three years ago. We go to the vet regularly, I brush her teeth daily without fail and she eats a pretty amazing diet.

Then one day, about a month ago, her jaw suddenly started chattering.

There are many things that could cause jaw chattering.  It could be that he’s just really excited or nervous about something or it could result from him getting into something toxic, oral eosinophilic plaque like Turk has in this video. It could also be neurological or dental related. Since our dogs can’t tell us exactly what’s going on, it’s up to us to find out a root cause by starting the process of elimination.

Before the jaw chattering started, my girl started to bite me during our tooth brushing sessions, but I just thought it was her strong personality.  Then one day she bit me really, really hard. I worried something was wrong with her teeth or her jaw, but then she seemed fine. She was eating and drinking normally and didn’t have bad breath. I just thought I had to desensitize on the tooth brushing and find a new routine for us. I even consulted with a trainer with a PhD in animal behavior to get some tips.

We visited with the vet as soon as possible and discussed if it could be an allergic reaction, dental pain or neurological. He examined her and watched videos I provided and said “let’s keep an eye on it for a few weeks and see if it goes away”.  He didn’t think it was dental related since he knows how good I’ve always been about brushing and she didn’t have any tartar or gingivitis that he could see and she didn’t have any bad odor coming from her mouth.

Two weeks passed and the jaw tremors (as I was calling them at the time) were still there. They’d even happen when she was sleeping. I was worried they might be focal motor seizures, arthritis in her TMJ or a pinched nerve in her neck. I was so scared and I read all I could find on the subject and kept a log of every time the jaw chatter took place, which was several times daily.  I took video after video in all types of scenarios, eating, sleeping, barking, yawning. I was determined to understand the root cause so I could fix it. Just accepting something as general aging, is not acceptable in my book.

As the days went by, the chattering seemed to diminish a little, but was still present and other neurological and pain symptoms were showing up, which confused me even more.

I ordered an allergy test to see a food sensitivity was the root cause. I had recently re-introduced grains to her diet, so I was worried perhaps that was the problem, but taking the grains away didn’t change anything.

We went to see our holistic vet who thought it was maybe her TMJ and then we went to a third vet for another opinion and that vet thought it was  back pain related.  We went to laser therapy, but right there in the therapy room, just after the session had completed, I gave her a soft treat and her jaw chattered.

Finally, we got into see a Canine Dental Specialist at a specialty hospital. She was the fourth vet we saw about this. She looked inside my little one’s mouth and didn’t see anything obvious, but said it was possible the jaw chattering was from dental pain. It wasn’t a common response, but she said it was possible. We had to wait a week to get in for x-rays to see if there was any evidence of periodontal disease and get treatment.

The morning of her dental procedure I dropped her off at the specialty hospital and waited in the car in the parking lot across the street. The dentist called me as soon as she had the radiographs and told me there was a tooth at the very back of my dog’s mouth that had pretty advanced periodontal disease. She removed the tooth and a few hours later, my little one was ready to go home.

I was told that even under general anesthesia, my little girl’s jaw chattered when they touched the infected tooth. She had bone loss from the periodontal disease and the tooth was very loose and was hitting a nerve.  We don’t know for sure if this was the cause of the problem, but so far we haven’t seen the chattering again, so all things are pointing to dental pain.

So even if you brush your dog’s teeth every single day, twice a day, even on vacation, and never ever miss, and your dog’s breath smells fresh and teeth appear to be clean and beautiful, your dog could still have periodontal disease. It’s a nasty thing because our dog’s mouths open to their bodies and with periodontal disease, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and affect vital organs. We can’t see what is going on below the gum line and it’s super hard to see those very back teeth. I pushed to find out the root cause of the jaw chattering.  It would have been very easy to just write it off as an aging tick.

Looking back at it now, it seems obvious that a dental issue was the cause, but it really wasn’t all that obvious at all. Our dentist even consulted with a canine neurologist on the topic.  I feel terrible that it took almost a month get to the root cause, but I’m so grateful that we finally got there. Today my little girl is doing great and her jaw chattering and pain have gone away.

 I hope our story inspires you to schedule a professional cleaning for your dog.  February is Dental Health Month, which is a month to bring awareness to the importance of not only your dog’s regular tooth brushing, but also x-rays and professional cleanings for your dog’s mouth.  Healthy smiles are happy smiles!!

 

Acupressure for Your Dog

 

Paw Pod Photo
FitPAWS Paw Pods provide passive stimulation to acupressure points between your dog’s digits.

Acupressure is one of the most ancient healing arts.  Like acupuncture, which is uses the same pressure points, it is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  The primary difference is that acupuncture uses needles to activate the points. There is evidence that shows veterinary acupressure has been used since 2000-3000 BC. In ancient times, eastern cultures would use this art not only on themselves, but also on their animals.

Acupressure increases circulation, releases muscle tension and improves the flow of energy or qi. This form of therapy which brings energy and blood to an area, can be used to alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and injuries, it can reduce anxiety, motion sickness and nausea, and can even help with behavior disorders.

The Bladder Meridian is a great place to get start if you want to provide overall wellness for your dog. It begins at the inner corner of each eye, over the head and then breaks into two lines along both sides of the spine and runs down the back to the tail and down the back of the hind legs. There are many association points along this meridian that provide qi to all of the body’s organs.

To stimulate the Bladder Meridian, get your dog into a relaxed position on the floor alongside of you. Start at the base of the neck, using your palm if you have a large dog, and fingers if you have a small dog.  Press gently but and with healing intention as you follow the line down to the tail.  Do not massage across the spine itself, which can be painful, but to each side of it. One side at time. Skim over any raised or inflamed areas very lightly.  Press gently into any depressions or hollows you feel for a few seconds.  If your dog is not interested in the massage, don’t push him and save it for another day when he is more receptive.

Another easy way to active pressure points is with FitPAWS Paw Pods. There are acupoints located along the side of the base of the nail bed on the various digits. Paw Pods gently press against these areas when your dog is standing on them. It’s a great way to incorporate a little acupressure wellness with training and balance improvement exercise.

If your dog has a serious imbalance of any kind and you want to try alternative therapies, find a holistic veterinarian or certified therapist who is trained to identify the correct points to bring your dog into balance and restored health.

What is TTouch?

TTouch, or Tellington Touch, is a bodywork method designed by Linda Tellington-Jones.  It was first designed for bodywork on horses and then later discovered to be helpful to small animals and people.

TTouch is a method of making circular movements on the body, generally in a clockwise manner with light touch.  The circles awaken the cells, likened to turning lights on, and help your dog with healing and behavior.  Because each circle is complete within itself, there is no need to understand anatomy and even a few minutes a day can help your dog immensely.

The basic method is to make a circle starting at the 6pm position and go around one and a quarter times, to 9pm and then to slide your hand to the next position running down the back of your dog to the sides of his spine.  Keep your opposite hand on your dog and alternate from side to side until you get to the base of the tail and then run your hand along his tail to the very tip. The circles help your dog to relax, help speed along healing, build body self-awareness and confidence and help deepen your bond with your dog.

There are many different hand positions and movements with names like Clouded Leopard, Lick of the Cow’s Tongue and Snail’s Tail, amongst others.  The names were chosen to help make learning fun and easy to remember.

There is also an ear work technique, called Ear TTouch, which is particularly helpful in the case of an emergency and can help you keep your dog from going into shock.  There are many acupressure points at the base of the ear that help with relaxation, digestion and overcoming car sickness.

If you are interested in learning TTouch, there are many books and videos on the subject or you can even take a certification class.  At the very least, be sure to watch a few videos and learn the basics.  It can make a world of difference for your dog.

What is Integrative Veterinary Care?

 

holistic dog care book image
Integrative care for your dog is a whole-body approach.

Integrative holistic veterinary care is a whole-body approach that incorporates both western and eastern modalities.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, massage, herbs and nutrition.  There are also alternative therapies such as cold laser, homeopathy, flower remedies, essential oils, Tellington Touch (TTouch) and water therapy that your dog can benefit greatly from.

Since we are all about preventative care and holistic healing, Tashi and I work together with our holistic veterinarian to create a whole-body approach for optimal health.  We use all of the methods that are briefly described here as part of our integrative therapy.

Acupuncture and Acupressure have been used for centuries.  Whether using traditional needles, laser acupuncture or pressure points, the goal is to get energy moving and restore the body.  Blockage of any type is where pain and disease start. There are specific energy channels, or meridians, where energy flows throughout the body.  Acupuncture or Acupressure is applied in specific areas depending on what is going on in the body.

Chiropractic is also about clearing blockages, but the focus is on the spine and how it affects the nervous system.  Every organ in our body is regulated by the nervous system, the same is true for your pet. The spine is protected by vertebrae which are connected by muscles and ligaments. If the muscles or ligaments are tight, the spine is not able to move as it should and vice versa.

Massage works on the soft tissues of the body, which works hand in hand with chiropractic.  Massage increases the flow of nutrients to the muscles and aids the body in getting rid of toxins.  It also reduces inflammation, and stimulates circulation.

Laser Therapy, also called low-level laser, cold laser therapy and Class IV laser, uses light to stimulate cell regeneration and increase blood circulation.  It’s done on the surface of the skin and there is no need to shave the fur.  Hot laser on the other hand, is has a higher risk of cuts or burn due to the intensity of the light.  Cold laser is what is typically done on dogs and cats.

Herbs, the root of medicine, when given properly, can do wonders for your pet, for treating and preventing disease, without the use of synthetic drugs.

Homeopathy was developed in the 1700’s in Germany.  It’s a medical system with the basic belief that “like cures like”.  It claims a substance that causes the symptoms of disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people. Homeopathy comes in various forms such as sugar pellets, liquid drops, creams, gels and tablets.

Tellington Touch (TTouch), created by Linda Tellington-Jones, is a technique to help your dog’s physical and emotional health.  It can help with behavior problems, pain, circulation and the clearing of energy flow.

Water Therapy includes swimming, treadmills and underwater massage, all wonderful ways to help your dog with muscle tone, pain management and relaxation.

 

FitPAWS Paw Pods

FitPAWS Paw Pods

 

We recently got some FitPAWS Paw Pods.  They are great for balance,  neural stimulation and building core strength.  Your dog can stand on either the dome side or for a bigger challenge, he can stand on the flat side.  They in a pack of 4 and can be used individually or together.  We are just starting out with them, so the first thing we did was get used to touching them with right and left front paws.  Then we moved up to standing on them, one paw at a time, then both at the same time.  Our goal is all four paws on four different paw pods.  I’ll post an update as we get there!  It’s a lot of fun working together on the training too!

Read more about FitPAWS in our blog post here. 

 

FitPAWS Exercise Demonstration – Step Up

FitPaws step up image
FitPAWS are Happy Paws!

I thought I’d share some of my FitPAWS exercises with you! Mom needs to get one of those iPhone tripods so she can photograph me while supporting me, but we thought we’d go ahead and get started!

This is a step up from the FitPAWS Disc to the FitPAWS Donut. It elongates my back and give me a good stretch, while improving my muscle tone. We do some rotations that go about 5-8 minutes every day.

You can learn more about FitPAWS in my blog post FitPAWS for your Dog’s Fitness.

If you want to try FitPAWS, you can get a 15% discount at FitPAWSUSA with my special Barking Princess friends and followers code 18A-AMBTBP

 

 

 

FitPAWS for Your Dog’s Fitness

 

FitPaws image
FitPAWS is a great way to build your relationship with your dog while improving his fitness.

Are you looking for ways to improve your dog’s fitness, core conditioning and balance?  FitPAWS is a great tool to add to your dog’s fitness and conditioning regime.

What is FitPAWS?  It’s canine conditioning and rehabilitation equipment.  FitPAWS helps develop confidence, body awareness, strength, balance and coordination. Their inflatable platforms such as their discs, pods, peanuts and donuts are fun ways for your dog to improve his fitness.

The equipment is used by dog trainers and rehabilitation professionals as well as many pet parents who want to offer an additional way to help their dogs whether they are getting ready for the show ring, are recovering from an injury or just want to get in better overall shape.

Improving balance and stability is important for dogs of all ages, from puppies who are just starting to develop their coordination, to senior dogs that might have lost some of the strength they had in their earlier years.  The more your dog improves his balance and stability, the more body awareness he will have.

The amount of time your dog will need on FitPAWS varies from dog to dog.  Some dogs tire after 5 minutes and other can go for 15 minutes. The key is to not over-do the exercises, but to do them regularly and in short increments. Some of the balance work is more about endurance than repetitions.  A few minutes of balancing on a K9Fitbone goes a long way!  Working together through the exercises is also a great way for you to build your relationship and communication with your dog.

You will use treats to encourage your dog to go through the movements, so be sure to select something that is high value but not too high in calories.  Lamb or bison lung are great treats because they can be broken into small pieces and both have a lot of air so the calorie content is low.

We worked one on one with a rehabilitation expert who introduced us to FitPAWS, but you can learn all the moves you need by watching some FitPAWS videos online.   It’s important that your dog be closely supervised when using the equipment.  It’s not play-equipment, but truly exercise and rehabilitation tools that can greatly enhance your relationship with your dog while improving his fitness and well being.

As a Barking Princess reader, I’m able to share a special discount code  with you.  Use discount code 18A-AMBTBP  at checkout for 15% off any regular priced equipment.  Please note, it can’t be used on kits that are already discounted, sale items, apparel or third party products.

FitPAWS are happy paws!!

CBD Oil for Dogs – relief for pain and anxiety

CBD oil for dogs picture
CBD oil is beneficial for dogs with joint stiffness or anxiety.

Have you been curious about giving your dog CBD oil? Cannabidiol oil (CBD) is becoming a popular supplement for dogs who experience anxiety or who suffer from inflammation caused by any number of things, including arthritis.

Cannabidiol is a natural compound found in the hemp plant that is very beneficial to both humans and dogs.  When CBD enters the body, it activates the  endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is a biological system made up of neurotransmitters that bind to receptors that are involved in a variety of processes including pain sensation, mood and memory.

In case you were wondering, hemp comes from the same Cannabis family as marijuana but they are two different plants.  Marijuana has high amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive constituent of cannabis, from about 5-35% and low amounts of CBD, which is the opposite hemp which has very low THC (less than 0.3%) and high amounts of CBD.  CBD does not have any intoxicating effects like those caused by THC.

Not all hemp oils are created equal.  Here are a few helpful tips in finding a product that is right for your dog.

  • In order to be effective, it’s best to choose a full spectrum cannabidiol, not an isolate.
  • Be sure the manufacturer you choose use third party lab testing for quality and potency.
  • Make sure the manufacturer uses a supplier who farms organically.
  • Also find out how the oil is extracted from the plant.  Never chose a company that uses butane or ethanol as a distraction solvent. Vapor distillation seems to be the best process.

There are a lot of manufacturers out there, but a few of the companies we like are Pet.Releaf and Healthy Hemp.

CBD oil can be very helpful to help your dog if he is suffering from car anxiety, fear of fireworks, motion sickness and tension.  It can also be very helpful to alleviate pain associated with arthritis.

Personally, I have tried CBD oil for my dog who experiences car anxiety.  I’ve tried every product on the market over the years and nothing was working.  CBD was one more thing to at least try and I am very happy to say it seems to be working!  I administer the recommended dosage amount about 30 minutes before we get in the car and she is much calmer while we are traveling.  I was worried about CBD oil because I didn’t want her to feel lethargic or too relaxed or seemingly depressed.  I’m pleased to say none of those things take place.  She is much happier on our road trips which makes everyone in the car happier too.

Our holistic veterinarian recommends cannabidiol as well as our rehabilitation professional.  They have both have told me of their experiences seeing dogs who have less stiffness and pain from arthritis and less anxiety when they are taking CBD oil.

 

What is in your dog’s food?

What is in your pet's food image
What is in your pet’s food?

Do you know what is in your dog’s food and how to read his food label? If you had a pet during the 2007 terrifying pet food recall, you probably started being a lot more aware of the short comings of the pet food industry.  Many people checked to see if their dog’s food was manufactured by one of the companies in question and then quite possibly with relief simply moved on if they confirmed their dog’s food was not being recalled.

It was not too long later we went through the chicken jerky recall.  We thought we were buying something safe only to find dogs were getting sick and dying again because of what they were being fed.  Then we took note to not buy chicken jerky that had been produced in China and started looking for the label Made in the USA.

But what about beyond that? Can kibble ever be a good choice for your dog?  What about the mainstream foods we find at PetSmart and Petco or the new frozen products? One of the most important things you can do for your dog is to provide a wholesome species appropriate diet.  What that looks like can vary from person to person, depending on several things.  You owe it to your dog to learn how to read the label and actually read it. Make sure your dog’s food is void of corn, wheat and soy.  These are ingredients that your dog doesn’t need and that can hurt him.  There is an abundance of overweight and diabetic dogs in our society in a large part, due to what they are eating.

Make sure the first ingredient on your dog’s food label is a whole meat such as beef, chicken, lamb or turkey.  Avoid foods that have a chicken by-product or chicken meal as the first ingredient. Sometimes this is also labeled as poultry by-product meal (PBM).  Animal by-products are what is left of a slaughtered animal after the parts intended for human consumption have been removed. By all means avoid foods that have a grain such corn as the first ingredient.

The pet food industry has a long way to go on implementing appropriate regulations that ensure what you are buying is safe for your dog.  There are a handful of corporations that make most of the brands you see on the shelf at the big box stores.  It’s a big money industry that doesn’t want to spend profits on studies that will force them to purchase more expensive ingredients.

If you want to feed a raw diet but aren’t sure where to start, there are several smaller companies that put your pet’s health first who offer frozen, freeze-dried and dehydrated options.  Ideally it is best to have the least amount of heat possible in the manufacturing process.

Also if you haven’t already seen the documentary Pet Fooled, featuring the acclaimed holistic veterinarians Karen Becker and Barbara Royal, be sure to watch it.  You can rent or buy it on iTunes or watch on NetFlix.

 

How much exercise does my dog need?

Dog Agility Jump Photo
Agility is a great activity where you and your dog work together.

We all know that exercise is vital to keeping our bodies fit and functioning as they should.  The same goes for your dog, but you might be wondering just how much exercise does my dog need? As a minimum, dogs need 30 minutes a day of physical exercise. The intensity of exercise varies depending on health, age and breed. Dogs who were bred for working activities, such as Labrador Retrievers and Border Collies, need up to 2 hours of exercise a day.

Exercise helps your dog keep unnecessary weight off, keeps his metabolism working as it should and keeps his muscles tones and his mind engaged.  Dogs that don’t get enough physical activity often turn to destructive behaviors. There is truth is the old adage, “a tired dog is a good dog”. Keep your dog engaged and pay attention to his signals.

If you have a smaller dog or a senior dog, a casual walk through the neighborhood might be enough activity, but don’t forget to switch it up a bit and occasionally go down a different street or go to the park.  Dogs get bored, just like you, so keep it fresh, but regular.

Here are some activities, beyond just a walk in the park, that you might want to try with your dog. Check in your area to see what groups exist so you and your dog can learn one of these sports.

  • Agility – This is a wonderful way to build your relationship and communication with your dog.It keeps you talking to each other and keeps your dog’s mind and body engaged.
  • Fly Ball – For dogs that are “ball motivated”, this is a great way of getting intense exercise that is fun and builds confidence.
  • Lure Coursing – This is a very intense exercise for dogs with loads of energy that are “prey driven”.
  • Nose Work -Sometimes mellow, sometimes intense, but for dogs who have a good nose, it keeps their minds engaged and keeps their bodies moving.
  • Rally – This a great way for you and your dog to work together on obedience and keep moving at the same time.
  • Swimming – If you are lucky enough to have a canine aquatic center near you, this is an unbeatable way for your dog to stay fit without any impact on his joints.It’s great exercise for any dog and a wonderful way to rehabilitee a dog with injuries or compromised joints.
  • Freestyle Dancing – Yes, you can take up dancing with your dog! It’s a fun way to build your relationship, keep both of you moving and work on obedience at the same time.

Every dog is different so it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about how much and how intense the exercise should be, but don’t bypass this important and boding activity with your dog.