Your dog’s dental health is as important to its well-being as your teeth and gums are to yours. Some dogs naturally produce more plaque than others but all need attention to keep their teeth shiny and white.
No matter what you feed your dog, plaque will form. It is the same stuff your dentist removes during your periodic cleanings. Unlike us, however, most dental cleanings on dogs require that your German Shepherd be anesthetized. Incorporating teeth cleaning into your routine care of your dog helps prevent a costly trip to the vet.
Pet stores sell various types of canine tooth brushes and pastes. The brushes can be like human brushes with a handle, or have ridges or brushes incorporated on a sleeve that fits over your finger. The tooth pastes can be pasty or gels, frequently flavored with tastes that dogs enjoy, like liver. As is the case with nail trimming, you and your German Shepherd will find the products and techniques that work best for you.
Also, not unlike nail care, a tooth brushing takes a slow, patient approach. Start with letting your dog taste a bit of the paste on your finger. Gradually work your way to putting some paste, still on your finger, on the dog’s front teeth; move to the canines and so on.
Club members have success positioning their German Shepherds so they are sitting with their backs in a corner between their legs as the human stands in the corner facing out. You don’t want your dog to feel trapped but, at the same time, you need to restrict its motion. This position also allows you to use both hands; one to brush the teeth and the other to lift your dog’s lips to get at the back teeth. As with other dog care activities, reward successes with treats.
Dogs like to chew and German Shepherds are certainly no exception. For dental care, augment the piles of cute squeak toys and balls littering your living room with good chew toys. Our members strongly recommend AGAINST rawhide and similar chews having found that they present a choking hazard and can result in intestinal distress. By contrast, bully sticks or pizzles are fully digestible. Braided fiber ropes you see at pet stores are not only excellent chew toys, they present the opportunity to play a good game of tug with your dog. Your German Shepherd also will find its own chew toys, like sticks.