==> "Want a daily dose of bacteria, or pleasant kisses?"
Kibble and canned dog food rottens your dog's mouth if not looked after!
GSD Mouth Care
To the uninformed the above may sound odd, but really, if you don't regularly clean your dog's mouth the right way then you risk unnecessary infections and pain for your German Shepherd. Also note that mouth infections are being constantly ingested by your dog, leading to seemingly unrelated illnesses down the line!
For the modern-lifestyle GSD the right dental care and gum care is crucial, and it can add healthy years to your dog's life.
This MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL shows how to easily keep your dog's mouth healthy - and to enjoy pleasant kisses too.
- Risks of poor mouth hygiene
- Signs of poor dental care
- The right GSD mouth care
- Other important points
Risks of poor mouth hygiene
By their nature, German Shepherds would heavily tear apart large chunks of meat into smaller ones, gnaw on bones, tree trunks and branches, eat vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, and chew on wild grasses. This type of diet has a significant cleaning effect on the dog's teeth and gums.
The majority of German Shepherds in the world however are fed kibble and canned dog food: 84% among our subscribers! Usually supplemented by the odd piece of filet-style meat and commercial dog treats. This type of diet indeed involves a high risk of dental and gum disease.
To provide a basic understanding of WHY dental and gum care is important for the modern-lifestyle GSD, we can survey a few dental and gum problems that may occur as a result of poor mouth hygiene.
Plaque and Tartar
With every meal and treat your German Shepherd eats (especially if it's sweet), plaque starts to build up as a film on the teeth and along the gum line. When this plaque mixes with saliva and bacteria in the mouth it turns into tartar. Tartar can be easily identified as a yellow brown substance on the teeth and along the gum-line (see the image).
If not removed regularly and completely, the tartar hardens and encapsulates many bacteria, which can then underneath freely attack teeth and gums, permanently settle in tooth gaps and gum pockets, and savage any wounds in the mouth!
If you don't brush your German Shepherd's teeth regularly and the right way (see below) then food particles and residue start to accumulate between and behind the teeth and in gum pockets. This provides bacteria a good habitat to live in and multiply, causing Gingivitis or inflammation of the gums.
If left untreated Gingivitis can lead to Periodontitis, which is an infection and inflammation of the ligaments and roots of the teeth. This means these infections are hidden from you, you cannot see them although they may cause significant pain to your GSD.
As explained in prior Periodicals, pain in dogs is a typical (but regularly overlooked) cause for behavioral issues, all the way up to and including dog aggression and dog biting!
German Shepherds will not normally show their pain through constant whining and retreating to their den, like most other dog breeds do. Nonetheless, if the pain is too much or for too long, they too need a negative energy release. These are the reasons why you hear of GSD owners complaining that their dog 'suddenly' became aggressive or even bit. Aggression and biting releases negative energy.
Signs of poor dental care
Your German Shepherd's teeth are like a mirror to the overall health of your dog. White pearl like teeth usually indicate good health, while yellowing teeth can be an early signal of poor overall health of your GSD.
The signs you need to look out for:
- bad breath
- swollen or bright red gums
- yellow-brown tartar on teeth and along gum line
Usually, if your German Shepherd has built-up tartar your dog will have a really bad breath. The symptoms of Gingivitis include bleeding gums, redness and pain in gums.
All of these symptoms should be a point of concern for you, because bad oral health can take years away from your GSD's life and we do not want that!
So, if your German Shepherd shows any such signs, you need to put in place a better regime of regular dog mouth care. Otherwise you and your GSD may have to visit the vet fairly soon. By all means, you should aim to avoid this, and not just for reasons of cost:
Getting mouth infections treated and teeth cleaned by a stranger (namely the vet) puts enormous stress on your dog - even before and after anesthetics have been given (which the vet will normally do before they dare to put their hand into a German Shepherd mouth!). A future Periodical will show how to curb stress at the vet.
The right GSD mouth care
You can add healthy years to your German Shepherd's life by just being more caring when it comes to dental health. The right cleaning regime in place avoids any stress, both for you and your dog.
Although the lady in this video clearly avoids all stress for her and her dog, the actual cleaning regime she applies is WRONG (see why further below):
The typical toothbrushing - which is WRONG
But let's start at the beginning: First of all, if you can, start early in your dog's life to get the dog used to dental care.
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!
The ideal is to introduce a GSD puppy to dental care around age 6 weeks. Since reputable and responsible German Shepherd breeders will not normally give you a GSD before age 7 to 8 weeks, once you get a new GSD puppy immediately introduce it to dental care.
When you get an older GSD, say from a GSD Rescue Center, try to find out what the prior owner or handler has done in terms of dental care. Because, if your new GSD is not used to opening its mouth to get its teeth worked on(!) (s)he may not like this idea at all! Although in general GSDs are more easy with this than other dog breeds, still it is a very awkward situation for any dog.
NEVER use human toothpaste for your GSD, and NEVER use your own (old) brush because the bacteria stems are very different and some survive for months even on dry brushes! In addition, the bristles of a dog toothbrush are different.
Other important points
- Whether you feed RAW or not, give your GSD the odd raw bone to gnaw on. These bones work by scraping off built-up plaque as they rub over the teeth. The tendons and ligaments along with the bones provide natural flossing for your GSD's teeth.
- Always SUPERVISE your GSD while (s)he gnaws on bones. And do not give cooked bones, as they can easily splinter and hurt your dog.
- Eliminate all sugary and starch-rich food items from the diet of your German Shepherd. A good alternative are raw vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes etc.
- Every now and then allow your GSD to chew on Greenies
- Also good is to get your GSD the Nylabone Dura Chew Wishbone, as it is great for massaging your GSD's gums and rubbing against its teeth.
- If you don't like to brush your dog's teeth the way recommended above, or if you can't get your dog to like it, then alternatively you can use Petzlife Oral Care Gel (and Spray), which surprisingly is a full substitute of the entire tooth cleaning regime.
- Better still seems to be Leba III (with tooth scaler). By using these oral care products you can save yourself from heavy vet bills, and your German Shepherd from the trauma of unnecessary vet visits and surgeries.
- Adding a small amount of Plaque Off to your GSD's food also helps to avoid the build-up of any film of plaque on the teeth.
Your GSD's dental health is important, as it is linked to its overall health: Everything your GSD eats and everything your GSD drinks passes through its mouth, hence any contamination in the mouth is being ingested and can reach inside your dog's body. A survey even suggests that dogs with bad dental conditions are more likely to develop heart problems.
Put in just a bit of time, energy, a little of shopping and a lot of love. With all this done it is for sure that your German Shepherd will live longer and healthier.
==> Next edition: GSD Puppy Leash Training <==