Another important part of grooming your Cairn Terrier, is dental and ear care. Make sure you keep up with regular teeth cleaning. The buildup of tartar on your Cairn’s teeth can lead to bad breath, sore gums, and—if untreated—tooth loss. When the pain becomes severe, dogs often become irritable and stop eating.
Also, bacteria that form in the mouth can spread via the bloodstream to other areas of the body, where they contribute to heart and kidney disease, and other serious illnesses. Elderly pets, in particular, are susceptible to bacteria-related problems.
To accustom your new Cairn Terrier to having his teeth cleaned, begin gentle cleaning as soon as he comes home. Apply some doggie toothpaste to a toothbrush or piece of gauze, and rub it gently over the teeth and gums. For puppies, use a cat toothbrush that has bristles only at the tip. There are also several oral rinses on the market that fight tartar buildup.
However, despite the regular care you give at home, some animals have such a problem with tartar deposits that the veterinarian must remove them with special instruments and polishing agents. Dental scaling typically is performed under short-acting anesthesia.
After a professional cleaning, the veterinarian may apply a sealant that prevents plaque-forming bacteria from attaching to the teeth. You may continue this protection at home with weekly applications of a prescription gel.
To further guard against gum disease, ask about the porphyromonas dental vaccine that targets key bacteria responsible for plaque formation.
Another area that needs attention is the ears. Are they pink, healthy, and free of odor? Is there any waxy matter or discharge? If your Cairn Terrier is scratching his ears or shaking his head, he may have an infection or allergy.
Infections often come from water in the ear canals, excess wax, or insect bites. Allergies result from substances in the environment, such as grasses, pollen, or dust mites, or even from the food your dog eats.
To keep the ears free of waxy deposits, wipe the outer part of the canal with a cotton ball soaked in ear-cleaning solution.
Don’t probe inside the canal, especially with cotton swabs, because this can push waxy material deeper. Hair that grows inside the ear is left in place in the Cairn.