The Beagle Blog: Pet Care Articles, Life at BTTR, and Much More

Chewing on one of my favorite enzyme coated dental chews

Dogs Look Like Dorks with Dentures

February is Pet Dental Health Month so Volume 2-1 of the Beagle Blog will be all about keeping your favorite tail wagers teeth clean. We see a lot of dental problems here at BTTR, most commonly in senior dogs, but also in dogs as young as 2 when they are feed a poor or low quality diet, fed lots of treats or people food (especially sugary stuff) and those who are never given anything to chew on (usually seen in hunt club or outdoor penned dogs).

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs and it is preventable with a few simple tricks. Pets should have their teeth and gums checked at least once a year by a veterinarian to check for early signs of the disease. The earlier you start the easier it is to prevent. Pets get periodontal disease for the same reasons we do, from the bacteria eating the food residue in our mouths. Check out the link below for a detailed description.

Signs of Periodontal disease or tooth/gum problems include:
- bad breath
- broken or loose teeth
- extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- abnormal chewing, drooling, not wanting to eat, difficulty eating, and dropping food from mouth
- discolored teeth or teeth covered In tarter
- red or swollen gums
- pain in or around the mouth
- bleeding from mouth (usually seen during or after chewing)
- irritability or new behaviors involving biting, or growling when around the mouth.

Complications from not treating dental disease can be severe including:
-Dogs with unchecked gum inflammation may be at a higher risk for heart, kidney, and liver disease
- Pathological Jaw Fractures: overtime untreated dental disease erodes the bone in the jaw to the extent only a small amount of pressure can lead to a broken jaw in a small dog
- It will only continue to get worse outside of a professional cleaning not consumer product will fix your pets dental disease

Treatment and prevention is usually broken down based on severity of the teeth and a good/better/best scale. Pets of any severity would all benefit from a good quality dog food, doesn’t have to be the most expensive but a moderately priced (mid range) food will pay off for your pet and your wallet in the long run, the lower cost of food generally means lower quality ingredients and potentially higher vet bills in the future. (We will talk more about quality dog food in a later volume)

For severe dental disease you really only have 1 option to get a professional dental cleaning done. See below about what to expect and why General anesthesia is required for a good cleaning.

For moderate dental disease:
Good: providing safe quality chews, and toys allowing your pet to scape some of that gunk off. Check with your vet about the quality of various dental chews, many only offer a good “shape” for cleaning your dogs teeth
Better: Enzyme based dental chews, the enzymes on these help break down plague faster than just chewing. Oral rinses, these can be added to your pets water or sprayed directly on to teeth
Best: daily brushing (most vets are willing to do a demo) with a dog specific tooth paste. Professional Dental cleanings

For early dental disease
Good: safe quality chews (see above)
Better: enzyme based dental chews and oral rinses (see above)
Best: Daily brushing (see above) and a mixture of the Good and Better techniques.

Slowing the progression of the disease early can literally save your dogs teeth!! Leo’s brother an 8 year old golden retriever just had his 1st dental cleaning, we use chews and oral rinses and he didn’t need to have any teeth extracted. Girly Girl a dog BTTR adopted out this year needed to have 14 teeth extracted since her dental disease had gone un-treated for so long.

All About Dental Cleanings

Why is my dog anesthetized for dental cleanings? Isn’t their a way to do it without putting them under?

The simple answer to the first question is they need to hold still to get a thorough cleaning. During a human dental cleaning you can tell your dentist if something hurts and can position your mouth for x-rays your dog can’t do this and many react to pain by moving or biting

While their are some ways advertised as Anesthesia Free Dental Cleanings your talking apples and oranges. Without anesthesia all the person could possibly be doing is scaling your dogs teeth. It also doesn’t allow cleaning or inspection below the gum line where most of the damage causing bacteria lives. The American Veterinary Dental College strongly recommends against this type of dental scaling, take your pet to the vet for an evaluation.

What are you paying for in a Dental Cleaning

Professional Dental cleanings vary a lot in cost, usually from $150-$1500. When seeking out a vet to do a dental cleaning find out what the price includes. The average dental includes:
-Pre Op blood-work (usually required for dogs over 6)
- Pre Op/Post Op follow ups (sometimes required)
- Pre Op/Post Op dental x-rays
- Procedure Anesthesia
- Procedure pain meds
- Procedure extractions (some include all in price, others give a price per extraction)
- Procedure general cleaning
- Post Op Antibiotics
- Post Op Pain Meds (if needed)

A word on x-rays some vets (especially the low cost ones) do not do x-rays. While it is not going to harm your pet to not have them done prior to the procedure it also means the vet may remove any tooth that looks suspicious, leaving your pet with fewer teeth. If the vet does x-rays they may be able to determine that a suspicious tooth isn’t actually a problem or one that doesn’t look bad actually is. Potentially saving your pet some teeth.

What to Expect During a Dental Cleaning

Your vet will generally want to do an exam to see how severe your dogs dental disease is. When they decide they need a dental if your pet is over 6 they may require blood work done within 3 days of the procedure. You won’t be able to feed your pet after 12pm on the night before your pets procedure and they usually need to be at the vet in the morning for drop off and will be ready in the afternoon.

After surgery, when your pet is ready to go home, he or she will be groggy, and often disoriented from the anesthesia. Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and drooling (even with a bit of blood) are all coming after surgery. You can let them potty and offer water as soon as you pick them up. Your pet will usually start antibiotics the next morning (always give with food) and should be feeling a bit better the next day. If your pet won’t eat, is bleeding excessively, isn’t drinking, or still hasn’t peed yet (normal bowl movements can take a day or two after surgery) by the next morning, call the vet to check in.

All Pets after receiving a dental will need to eat soft food for at least a week. Depending on how many teeth your dog has removed they may need to have their food softened forever. This doesn’t mean your pup needs expensive canned food you can easily soften your pups food with warm water 1-2 minutes before feeding.

- Here at BTTR we use Helping Hands Affordable Surgery in Richmond, VA to do all our dentals


Leo the Beagle wearing a RuffWear Front Range harness, tethered to a seatbelt riding in the car.

How to take you pup on a CAR RIDE!!! Safely

Bonus: Vol 1-3

In Vol 1-2 we talked about the importance and benefits of teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash. Teaching your dog to ride in the car and doing it safely goes hand in hand with that as your dog gets better at walking on the leash and you start adventuring to the park (and beyond). Virginia is full of dog friendly National, State, and City parks, with trails to explore, dog parks, ponds/bays/oceans to swim in and so much more. But for a dog who is young, under socialized, or use to only going to the vet getting there may be a battle.

Teaching your dog to ride in the car is a smile as slowly increasing the experience. Place your dog in the car for a few minutes in the driveway but don’t go anywhere, then while still in the driveway start the car but don’t leave (turn on the radio, AC/Heat, Windshield Wipers etc). Once your pup is comfortable with all these things it’s time to head out! Take a short trip around the neighborhood keep it to less than 10 minutes and talk to your dog or have a passenger provide treats. Next go to a nearby interesting but not overstimulating place such as a mostly empty park, or other dog friendly area (avoid areas with lots of dogs or people). Stay less than 10 minutes, make it fun, and reassure your dog if he/she is concerned, then head home. Keep extending the time to and time at the destinations, if your vet is on board take your dog to the vet, weight them, give them treats then head home (this will reduce your pet panicking when they realize they are at the vet).

While traveling with your pet be sure to have them safely restrained or confined whenever in the car

  • Small dogs should travel in a crate or carrier secured in the backseat behind a seat (not in the middle)
  • Large dogs should be restrained (see below) or secured behind a pet hammock, or a car barrier that prevents pets from moving from the cargo area to the backseat or from the backseat to the front seat.
  • NEVER travel with a pet in the drivers lap! Not only is it illegal in most states (covered under distracted driving) but it is also dangerous even deadly to your pet in the event of an accident (pets are easily crushed by an airbag)
  • When securing pets, give them a secure area such as a crate, carrier, or bed, make sure it is resists slipping. For open areas when using just a bed secure your pet using a pet hammock, car barrier or tether (See more below)
  • When tethering pets in the car always attach the tether to a harness (preferable one designed for the car or with a chest pad) NEVER a collar. Make sure the tether is connected to a stable tie down such as a seatbelt, cargo ring, or child seat tie down. The tether should be long enough for the dog to lie down, turn around, and stand/sit up but short enough that the dog doesn’t slam into the seat in front of them in an accident.
  • Pets who are overly excited, climb over seats, get into parcels, or are unfamiliar to you (such as a new pet, pet you are pet sitting, or foster dog) should ALWAYS be placed in a crate or carrier for their safety and yours, it’s never safe to travel with a pet who is distracting you from driving.
  • Pets should NEVER ride in the back of a pickup truck. Even dogs that are tethered can fallout and hang to death. Dogs are often thrown around as the truck stops and starts and have little to no chance at survival in an accident. If the back of the truck is the only option, dogs should be in a carrier or crate designed for truck use, crates should be secured, have adequate ventilation, and protect the dog from rain, snow, heat, and cold.
  • Resist letting your pet stick his/her head out the window. Flying debris can damage your pet’s face/eyes. Pets that are unsecured or poorly secured can jump out, potentially being killed, hit by a car, or hanging to death from a too long tether. All cars have passenger window locks in the event your dog (like Leo the beagle) has figured the window down button.
  • Never leave a pet unattended in a car that is not running. Extreme heat and cold can quickly kill your pet even if the weather is mild outside. If you choose to leave the car running be sure that your pet cannot accidentally knock the vehicle out of park. Never leave your pet alone in a way that they can, eat something dangerous, hang themselves, or panic and break teeth or toes in a crate. Be smart: if your pet is prone to chaos, panicking, or if you really don’t need to bring them along, do the safe thing and leave them at home.

Riding in the car safely, opens up a whole new world for you and your pet. It also gives you piece of mind that you can evacuate safely, take your calm pet to the vet, go on a dog friendly vacation, and just a simple walk in the park.


Me (Leo) and my mom walking part of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park

#1 Skill Your Dog Should Learn

Vol 1-2

Here at BTTR we adopt on an average of 50 dogs a year, with at least 5-10 of them being puppies under 6 months. We check up on our adopters (especially puppies) about 3 months after adoption and generally they are all having some issues, some are small, some are bigger. Many of these issues stem from lack of on-leash exercise. Things like destructive behavior, anxiety, excessive barking, excessive energy, and being “into everything” are all signs of lack of regular exercise. The most common answer we get for “What does your dog do for exercise” is “he/she runs around the backyard.” What athletic breeds like beagles really need is leash walks 1-2 times a day for at least one mile (a little more, a little less depending on your dog’s age and health). 

Just because you have a fenced in yard does not mean your dog shouldn’t learn to walk properly on a leash. There are times your dog will have to be able to walk nicely AND potty on a leash. For example: going to the vet, traveling for vacations, evacuating for hurricanes, if your fence is damaged by a storm, the list goes on. Teaching your dog (young or old) loose leash walking opens a whole new realm of possibilities for you and your pet.  Check out the benefits below:

  • Your pet gets tired FASTER walking on a leash since they experience new sights and smells (be sure to vary your route to keep this benefit going)
  • Your pet is less likely to exhibit unwanted behaviors if properly exercised
  • Your pet wills HEART will be healthier for the continuous cardiovascular exercise much more so than playing in the backyard
  • Your dog will be calmer and better behaved when going out on the leash since it isn’t such an exciting/scary experience every time
  • Your dog (and his or her human) will be healthier and less prone to obesity (a big issue with beagles)
  • If your dog is use to pottying on a leash house breaking is easier and it will be less of an ordeal when you take your pet on vacation, must evacuate, your pet is hospitalized or boarded, or you find yourselves without a safe fenced in area
  • Your pet will be far better socialized and less reactive to cats, other dogs, people walking by, staying calm near traffic, and facing new situations

Always start out with a harness when training a dog loose leash walking. Avoid “choke collars” since they can do serious permeant damage to your dog’s throat. Stick with it, don’t keep changing harnesses or corrective collars every few days, try something for at least 2 weeks before changing unless you feel it is unsafe. Don’t allow someone unable to control the dog (such as a child or the elderly) or people who may not be able to deal with difficult situations that they might encounter (such as a dog fight, dog gets loose, whether or not a dog should be allowed to greet a person or dog) walk your dog alone. If you have questions about teaching a dog the basics, give us a call or contact a local trainer.

Cold Weather Can Be Fun if Your Safe

Introducing “The Beagle Blog”

Hi I’m Leo, BTTRs blogging beagle. For the New Year I will be posting 2 topics a month about pet care, health, and fun things to do with your pet. So introducing the Beagle Blog Vol 1-1

Cold Weather Safety Tips

-Be Healthy: Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions like arthritis, it’s important to get your pet checked out by a Vet at least once a year and twice a year is recommended for dogs over 7 years (seniors)

-Know Your Pets Limits: Just like walking in sand your pet will get tired faster walking in snow, older (and long haired) dogs are prone to slipping (and a potential fall), avoid leaving pets outside in the cold unattended, if you MUST leave your dog outside provide a sturdy dog house facing away from the wind, fill it with straw for warmth (not blankets which can get wet), make sure your dog’s water and food are not frozen or covered over with snow. Generally if it’s too cold for you to be outside without a heavy coat it’s too cold for your dog. Many Pet Welfare organizations offer free straw and dog houses, if you see a dog you think might be in danger of freezing call your nearest Animal Control group, they are the only ones able to enforce animal welfare laws.

-Rinse Paws: Always rinse your pet’s paws out after being outside in the snow. Luke-warm (not hot) water in a dish twice the size of your pets paws work well for dunking. Paws will accumulate ice crystals and potentially poisonous ice melting salt. Even “pet safe salt” should be rinsed off to prevent excessive drying of the paw pads. Leaving your pets paws wet and cold may encourage them to lick their paws excessively which can lead to secondary bacterial or yeast infections. Commercial moisturizing creams or petroleum jelly can also help with dry cracked pads. See a vet if your pet has open wounds, smelly, hair loss, or red/brown stained areas around their paws.

-Accessorize: If your pet has a short coat consider getting your pet a coat or sweater, always choose ones that don’t limit your pet’s movement. Keep in mind a wet sweater will make pets colder than none at all, if it’s actively snowing or raining choose a waterproof one. Paw boots are also available, be sure to choose ones with enough traction that your pup doesn’t slip.

-Prep: Make sure you have enough food, water, and some way to keep warm for both you and your pet if you lose power. Always have a crate for each of your pets that is large enough to stand up, lay down, and turn around in the event you need to evacuate or have to stay at a hotel.

-Under the Hood: Cats have been known to hide in car engines during the winter trying to stay warm, stray dogs might climb under a vehicle seeking shelter. When you prepare for a car trip bang on your hood and make some noise, then pause and listen for any movement before setting off. NEVER leave a pet alone in a car that is not running, cars cool down quickly and can easily become below freezing while you’re in the store.

-Show Your ID: Pets should always wear a collar with your current phone number attached. It’s highly recommended to microchip your pet as well. Make sure your contact info is up to date on your pets chip. Always have a copy of your pets most recent vet records (especially rabies certificate, microchip certificate, and a current picture of your pet, even better if you’re in it too)

-Find the Green: If you have a puppy who isn’t thrilled about toileting outside in the snow try clearing out a small patch of snow down to the grass in your pups favorite potty spot. You can also put them on a leash (even if your yard is fenced) to keep them in the spot with you until they go, then let them play in the snow or run back inside to warm up (your pups choice)

-Get Cozy: The floor can be a chilly place to sleep, make sure your pet has extra blankets on the floor to snuggle or, or check out “cave beds” like the Cozy Cave to help keep pets that like to burrow toasty. Microwaveable, electric, and “self-heating” warming pads are available at pet stores, be sure to monitor the heat level especially for pets with limited mobility.

*Sources:,,, and

Thanks for reading! Check back later on for the next article: Why Walking on a Leash is Crucial for Your Pet