Diet, exercise, and maybe even mental health are important to keeping your canine companion happy and healthy. But veterinarians agree that dental care is also a key component to health. Take it from Tuna, an Instagram-famous chiweenie with 2.1 million followers, who’s become a household name on the social media platform in large part due to his wide, pearly-white smile.
The fame came almost by accident. “I first met Tuna in December 2010 at a farmers market in Los Angeles, where he was being shown for adoption as a 4-month old puppy,” Tuna’s owner explained. “He didn’t have his signature teeth at the time, but they grew in a couple months later, and that is when I started taking photos of his silly grin.”
“I began posting that collection of photos a year later on Instagram, just for fun,” his owner continued, “with no intention of garnering a following. But when he went viral a year after I created my account. I loved that his photos were bringing people joy all over the world, so I continued to post.”
Now, Tuna is using his fame to spread awareness of the importance of dental care for dogs.
In Tuna’s case, his owner gets his teeth cleaned at least annually, sometimes biannually, at the veterinarian’s office. His owner also maintains his dental health by brushing his teeth about once a week, “If he’ll let me. I also have a tool to scrape off plaque, which he really loves,” Tuna’s owner added sarcastically.
Even when Tuna travels (you can follow his travels on his designated Instagram account @thetravelingtuna), his owner brings along a brush and toothpaste for canines.
These dental hygiene habits have resulted in a sterling smile. “He’s almost 10, and he’s only had two teeth pulled due to overcrowding on his bottom set,” his owner said, explaining that the extra teeth didn’t need to be there and had been filling up with plaque, thus risking infection.
If Tuna’s gorgeous grin isn’t enough incentive to keep your dog’s dental care at top of mind, take note from his owner. Doing so can improve your dog’s well-being and may even help you save money.
“Your pets can’t book a dentist appointment for themselves,” Tuna’s owner said, “so if you can do it for them, at least annually, it will help prevent a ton of teeth pulling when they are older, which can be very expensive for you and painful for them.”