When you live, play, and work with a dog, knowledge is a protection for both of you. Dogs, like children, will not go thru life without the occasional cut, scrape, laceration, broken tooth, torn nail, bee sting, road rash, or sundry other non-catastophic injuries…Learning to deal with them effectively will save you both money, worry, and discomfort. With that in mind, I am going to start a series of articles here involving canine (emphasis on German Shepherds) anatomy, and first-responder type first aid for your dog. This is NOT intended to replace regular and comprehensive Veterinary care, but rather, treatment that will get you to your Vet when injury or sickness occur. Please build a relationship with a good veterinarian for both you and your dog…We will delve into PROACTIVE treatment as well, an example of which begins below with a consideration of canine teeth and dental care. It’s vital to your dogs health and well-being. I appreciate your feedback, suggestions, and personal experiences, so feel free to respond! Thanks for reading “German Shepherd Adventures”.
Hey Mister, Does your Dog Bite?
I hear that question every time I’m in public with my dog…My standard answer to that question usually takes fellow dog-owners by surprise, because I use that time to preach the gospel of “BRUSHING YOUR DOG’S TEETH”. My veterinarian, (Dr. J. Nowery) and I are especially proud of the dentition that my black German Shepherd, “Hans”, carries around in his mouth. They are sparkling white, strong, and complete. The gumline is deeply colored, tight, and free of debris and tartar. From 8 weeks of age, we have given him regular (daily!) tooth care, and monitor that care with an almost obsessive diligence. It’s NOT difficult, and it may well extend your four-legged buddy’s good health and longevity. IT DOES REQUIRE a bit of time. But PLEASE, try to do your best…
Imagine that you decide for whatever hair-brained reason to stop brushing your own teeth, or allowing your children to run amuck and go to bed without brushing their own for a month or two. Do I even NEED to describe what the results of THAT would be? I didn’t think so…Well, the sad fact is that MOST dogs do just that every day. The results WILL be bad, if not sooner, then definitely later. I’m going to give you some knowledge first, about the development of your dogs teeth, and how to start his care from the very beginning. You are going to find it necessary to put your (CLEAN & sanitized, followed by thorough rinsing in clean running water) fingers into puppies mouth. This will, A) Insure that you KEEP your fingers as puppy grows, and B) Acclimate him to having his teeth cleaned.
Puppies get their baby teeth (28 Total) between the ages of three and six weeks. Because there is little need for the grinding of food at this age, puppies do not have molars. Puppy teeth begin to shed and be replaced by permanent adult teeth at about four months of age. Although there is some variation in breeds, most adult dogs have 42 teeth, with the molars coming last, at about six or seven months.
The order of tooth replacement is incisors first, then canines (fangs), and finally premolars. The teething period can be frustrating; the puppy clamps his mouth on everything he can reach, from body parts to your $100.00 sneakers, in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. Teething can be accompanied by drooling, irritability, and fluctuations in appetite. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
When you bring puppy home, make it a habit to GENTLY rub a finger over his little gums. It will feel good to him…also use “PUPPY” specific chew toys which are soft, and forgiving. A product that I have found is made by PETRODEX. These are prophylactic brushes that roll onto your finger, and have bristles that clean the teeth very thoroughly when used properly. Let me emphasize “…used properly.” The reason that most humans don’t properly brush their teeth, involves how much time you spend brushing your teeth. Same thing goes for your dog. 30 seconds of random brushing does NOT fulfill the needs of YOUR teeth, let alone your dogs teeth. Spend the time…if you miss 10 minutes of that “Two and a Half Men” re-run because you were brushing teeth, you will not suffer permanent damage. You adopted this puppy, so please give him the best care possible!.
There are various canine toothpastes available, (DON’T USE YOUR HUMAN INTENDED COLGATE!!) Find one that your dog likes, and use it. The difference is this: Human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed, but rinsed out. Canine toothpaste is digestible.(When very young, be sure that your toothpaste is puppy safe. Fresh water Only may be advisable until 3 or 4 months of age)
As you have acclimated your puppy to having your finger in his mouth, rub the toothpaste on every surface of his teeth, examining his gumline for blood, impacted food, and yes, SLIVERS of wood. Your puppy will eventually find a stick, chew it, and end up with a sliver in his mouth. Be gentle, and observant…Be gentle and observant. Be gentle and observant. There, I’ve emphasized it. You may also find other remnants of whatever he has chewed.
One warning. During this process, remain CALM and Quiet. At some point, you will get a bit more pressure than you find comfortable from your dog clamping down on your finger. Correct him, and he will understand that this behavior is bad. Practice makes perfect.
In the next installment, we’ll go into more detail on Adult teeth! Thanks for reading, and taking great care of your puppies teeth!!!