Know the early symptoms of dental disease in your lab, and the steps to healthy gums and strong teeth.
Labs tend to pick things up with their mouths if they find them interesting, so checking their teeth every once in a while will help prevent diseases.
They are very curious about their environment. If they’re not rolling in mud, they’re probably picking stuff up with their mouths – toys, twigs, or a dead animal.So it’s important to keep their mouth and teeth clean by brushing them every now and then.
We’ve listed a few pointers below for you to check. Read on and see if you’re giving your lab the proper dental checks he or she needs.
Here are some signs and symptoms of potential gum and dental disease:
- Persistent bad breath
- Sensitivity around the mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Pawing at the mouth or face
- Plaque (often not visible unless stained)
- Bleeding, inflamed, or receded gums
- Tartar (creamy-brown, hard material)
- Loose or missing teeth
- Difficulty eating and chewing food
- Drooling, sneezing or eye tearing
Where to Begin
Brushing your dog’s teeth is easy and doesn’t take much time. To begin with, select a convenient time when you and your Lab are both relaxed. Keep each session short and positive and be sure to praise your dog throughout the process. After each session, reward your dog with an appropriate treat and lots of praise.
- For the first few days, simply hold your dog as you normally do when petting him. Do not overly restrain him. Gently stroke the outside of your dog’s cheeks with your finger for a minute or two. After your dog has become comfortable with this activity, dip a finger into beef bouillon and gently rub along the gums and teeth. Focusing on the gum line, start at the front of the mouth, then move to the back upper and lower teeth and gum areas. (Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, 20 on the top and 22 on the bottom.)
- Once your dog is okay with a little bit of touching, gradually introduce gauze over your finger, (you can also dip into beef bouillon) and rub the teeth and gums in a circular fashion. Do this for one to two weeks until your dog is familiar with having his gums and teeth rubbed.
- Place a small amount of pet toothpaste on your finger and let your dog sample the flavor. Pet toothpastes generally have a poultry, malt, or other flavor that your dog will like. Get your dog used to the flavor and consistency of the toothpaste. Let your dog lick some off your finger and then apply some to his gumline with your finger. After a few sessions, your dog should actually look forward to this and you can move on. Use only veterinary toothpaste, not baking soda or human toothpaste. Human toothpaste foams and contains fluoride, which can cause an upset stomach. Your dog can safely swallow meat-flavored veterinary toothpaste.
- Next, introduce your dog to an animal toothbrush, fingerbrush, or a soft human toothbrush. Your dog needs to get used to the bristles on the brush, so let him lick some toothpaste off the brush so he gets used to the texture.
- Now that your dog is used to the toothbrush and toothpaste, you are ready to start brushing. Place a small amount of toothpaste on the brush. Gently raise your dog’s upper lip and place the brush against an upper canine tooth (the large ones in the front of the mouth). These are the easiest teeth for you to start with. With a slow circular motion, gently brush only that tooth and the adjoining gumline. The bristles should be held at a 45 degree angle to the tooth surface. Each day gradually increase the number of teeth brushed, but go slowly. Do not go beyond your dog’s point of comfort. Build up to approximately 30 seconds of brushing per side. Remember, after each session, reward your pet with a treat and lots of praise.
- Be patient, proceed slowly and gently. Use plenty of petting and praise. Soon, both you and your Lab will look forward to the time you spend together during this important health care procedure.
Read the full article on labrador dental health here.
Image credit: smerikal