Phoebe went in to the vet today for a root canal. For several weeks, I had noticed a little bad breath from her. The raw diet we feed our dogs means that they rarely ever have bad breath.
I remember when I had my german shepherds, who were on kibble for more than half their lives, their breath stank. I thought that was normal, and I guess with most dogs being on kibble, it is normal. But then I switched them to raw and started giving them some whole raw meaty bones. That cleaned off a lot of their plaque and tartar, which in turn made the bad breath go away.
Every once in a while, a little of stinky breath would creep back. That was usually when I hadn't given them whole bones for a while (I started to grind most of their food because they tended to gulp). Then I'd give them a few chicken feet and their breath would be all good again.
So when I noticed the breath on Phoebe a few weeks ago, I thought it must've been because I hadn't given them whole bones for a while. Because I hadn't. We were out and it would still be a few weeks before we got more.
Then about a week and a half ago, while I was rubbing Phoebe's belly, I noticed something on her tooth. A closer look showed that it was cracked.
How long had it been like that?, I wondered. That's what must've been causing her bad breath. So off to the vet we went. Did you know a canine root canal cost $1500?
The good news was that the rest of Phoebe's teeth were pretty clean (another vet thought she was just 1 year old because her teeth were so clean--she's almost 5!) so we were able to skip the teeth cleaning, which would have cost extra.
After the surgery, the vet told us that the tooth had probably been cracked for a while--6 months to a year. 6 months to a year! And we didn't notice! I am ashamed. I guess that's one thing brushing the dogs' teeth would have made apparent to us sooner. But the bones clean their teeth so well, we've just never felt the need (and still don't).
We'll never know what caused the tooth to crack. It could've been one of the raw meaty bones, though we mostly give them soft bones to eat. But if it happened a year ago, there were a couple of occasions then when they got some marrow bones to chew on. Maybe that was it. Or maybe it was the durable nylabone toys that she loves to chew on. It could've been the big dehydrated sweet potato-on-a-rope dog treats. Those things are pretty hard. We'll never know. And so I guess, that means I'll forever live with a small fear that it might happen again.