How To Care For Your Canine's Teeth
Crunchy, dry food will not stop plaque and tartar build-up in our dog's teeth, although it will help a little more than feeding moist or wet food at meal times.
There are various packaged chews and bones available but these will still not prevent bad breath, gingivitis and possible periodontal disease starting sooner or later. Some companies claim that tartar is removed by eating their dog-food, but it is unproven and unlikely. In the old days it would be common to give fresh, uncooked bones to our dogs so that they could scrape off a good amount of plaque from their teeth while chewing and gnawing.
They still enjoy them, especially marrow bones or beef soup bones. (Never give cooked bones) But even so, today it is estimated that 80% will be affected by periodontal disease. The best way to avoid this condition is to prevent it. Young dogs should be trained to have their teeth cleaned regularly with dog-toothpaste and toothbrush. This is not only possible but should be fun with practice and plenty of praising.
Start slowly by lifting and pulling back the upper lip and running your finger along the gum-line with a little toothpaste. Let your dog lick this off and stop frequently to praise him. After a few days of this, introduce the toothbrush and clean just one or two teeth at a time. Allow your dog to relax and enjoy this new experience. Before long he will let you clean his whole mouth. Be sure to get all the way back to the molars, which is where most of the plaque will be.
If your dog is older and reluctant to let you clean his teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste, there are other, new ways to do this. There are gels and sprays readily available. These interact with your dog's saliva and if used consistently will dissolve the tartar and plaque build-up.
Whether you use the spray or the gel depends on what you think would work best. When using the spray, gently pull back your dog's lip exposing all of his teeth on one side. Quickly spray all the way from the molars to the front on one side and repeat on the other side. If your dog cannot tolerate the noise of the spray, consider using gel.
This can be put on your finger. With the other hand pull back the lip and quickly swipe the gel over the teeth on one side and repeat on the other.
A visit to your veterinarian beforehand is recommended, so that a diagnosis of the state of your dog's health and teeth can be made.