Excerpts from: You & Your Dog – Winter 1997
Dental care means more than fresh breath. If your boxer developes gingivitis that escalates into periodontal disease, his over all health can be affected.
Dental care for your boxer isn’t the latest fad. Teeth brushing, dental checkups and professional cleanings all will help prevent the most common of all dog ailments — periodontal disease.
It’s best to start a brushing routine when your boxer is a puppy. But like teaching an old dog a new trick, there are a few things to keep in mind. Along with weekly brushing, dental chews help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Watch for signs of infection in your boxer’s gums, and take him to the veterinarian at least once a year for a dental checkup. If you just adopted an older boxer who hasn’t had regular dental care, take him to a veterinarian for a thorough cleaning and a checkup.
- Start out with a play session. A fun introduction to any type health-care routine will make it much easier for both you and your boxer. To begin, gently hold your boxer’s head while you examine his teeth and gums. If he resists, stop and try again the next day. This daily examination process will help him get use to the idea of your fingers exploring his mouth. When he allows you to do the exam, praise him.
- When he’s comfortable with the exam, introduce the toothbrush. You might want to buy a brush made especially for dogs. (If your boxer consistently resists a toothbrush, you may want to try a special gauze cloth, available from most veterinarians). Apply a toothpaste — available from most pet-supply stores and veterinarians — formulated for dogs. Insert the toothbrush with paste into your boxer’s mouth, and gently brush the molars, angling the brush so you also can get to the surrounding gums. If he balks at the toothpaste, try using just a wet toothbrush for a couple of days, then reintroduce toothpaste after he’s more comfortable with the activity.
- After you complete the molars, move to the front of the mouth and brush his canine teeth. Always follow a pattern, so your boxer will know what to expect each time. Be sure to end each session with playtime or a treat.
A word of warning: Do NOT use human toothpaste on your dog. Many of them contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Even if you’re pretty sure your toothpaste doesn’t contain xylitol, don’t take a chance. Instead, choose a made-for-dogs toothpaste.