If your dog's bite is worse than his bark...

April 27, 2003|By Knight Ridder / Tribune

Those cleverly marketed products for doggie dental care may make you feel good, but are not sufficient to keep your pooch out of the woods where his teeth are concerned.

The American Kennel Club recommends a diet of dry kibble and regular brushings at home. Don't laugh.

OK, you can laugh, but brush them anyway. Imagine what your teeth would be like if you never brushed them.

Here's how. You can use a thickness of gauze on your finger, a child's toothbrush or a canine toothbrush. Purchase a toothpaste for dogs (do not use the human variety, it will give him a stomach ache) or make a paste of baking soda and water. Vigorously scrub the outside surfaces of the teeth, especially in back.

Using gauze, gently massage the gums. It isn't necessary to brush the interior surfaces of the teeth.

Have your vet check your dog's mouth for problems during his annual checkups. If your dog is a senior citizen, he should be seeing the vet twice a year.

If your dog develops an accumulation of tartar, which looks yellow and brown, he should have a professional dental cleaning under general anesthesia. Many vets do this.

Get into the habit of looking around your dog's mouth at least once a week. He will love you for it.

OK, OK, he will love you anyway.

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