The New Year is an ideal time to brush up--literally--on your Norfolk's dental health. What does this mean? We've all at one time or another made that unpleasant visit to the vet for the occasional dreaded extraction, or for scaling when tartar and "gamey" breath get beyond the limits of endurance. But may of us overlook, or resist, the simplest, most important dentistry of all--brushing our dog's teeth!
Yes, you heard me. If brushing can prevent tartar buildup, decay and gum problems in humans, then it's equally important and effective for dogs. Marrow bones, rawhides, hard cookies and kibble are all helpful, but veterinarians are seeing an increasing number of dogs with tooth loss and chewing difficulties due to plaque and cavities. Much of this can be avoided by simply brushing the teeth regularly with a small, soft-bristled child's toothbrush. The softer the bristles, the better.
For brushing, use a dab of pleasant-tasting toothpaste [Ed's Note: Use special canine toothpaste; these are safe for the dog to swallow.] diluted with a little water. An alternative cleanser is a moistened pinch of ordinary baking soda. There will be some resistance at first, but dogs, like humans, don't find the taste of peppermint-flavored toothpaste exactly abhorrent. Be content with a few good upper and lower swipes of the brush to begin. Then stick with it. As these little sessions progress, you'll eventually be able to get at those important back molars--the ones that cause the most trouble in later years.
If your Norfolk isn't "toothbrush-friendly," try toothpaste or baking soda on a dampened one-inch cotton gauze pad. Rub the teeth gently up an down with the pad while exercising all the charms and wiles in your repertoire. Remember: whether brushing or gauzing, gently is the way to go. One or two brushings weekly should be sufficient. and finish off each performance with a tasty treat--sugar-free of course!
Nat LaMar, Jr.
ANTIC, Winter 1988
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