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German Shepherd Mouth: Teeth and Gums

The German Shepherd Dog’s mouth, which includes the teeth and gums has important functions. Proper dental care is a priority to prevent possible health problems. Continue reading this article to take a closer look at the GSD’s mouth, teeth and gums care, and teeth and gum issues.

German Shepherd Mouth Description

Before we learn about the dental care tips and possible dental health issues, let’s take a look at how normal gums and adult teeth of a GSD look like:

Gums – Typically, the GSD has bluish or black tongue along with grey or black-pigmented gums. The black spot is melanin, a natural pigment. ​

Teeth – The adult GSD normally has 42 teeth. Their teeth are composed of 12 incisors, 4 canine teeth, 16 premolars, and 10 molars. Each of the teeth has its function. The sharp-edged incisors are for scraping the meat from the bone. The incisors are also used for removing fleas and other irritants from the coat. Next, to the incisors are the canine teeth. The canine teeth are for grasping the bone. The premolars are for chewing and shearing meat while the pointed molars are for crushing the bone.

Teeth and Gums Care

Veterinarians and dog health advocates promote National Pet Dental Health Month every February. However, a dog’s dental health should be promoted every month because dental disease is one of the most common problems affecting dogs. With proper dental care, dental disease can be prevented. Here are some ways and tips to promote healthy teeth and gums:

  • Brushing

If your GSD is not used to brushing, slowly introduce the habit until it becomes natural. Start cleaning your German Shepherd’s teeth at 6 weeks of age 2 to 3 times a week using a special dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Brush his teeth when he’s relaxed; speak to him reassuringly while brushing his teeth. Focus on the outer surfaces because his tongue naturally cleans the inside surfaces of his teeth. If you notice a tartar buildup, you may use a dental scaler to scrape it away. Ask your vet for assistance if you’re unsure how to remove a tartar buildup.

  • Diet

Wet food can stick to your GSD’s mouth which can cause tooth decay so dry food is preferable. Dry food may also help your dog exercise his chewing muscles. Focus on giving high-quality food and avoid sugary food.

  • Chew toys

There are dog treats and dog chew toys recommended by the experts to help control tartar such as chew toys with VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal. Avoid cooked bones as a chew toy, because they are brittle. If a piece of bone gets stuck in the stomach of your GSD, it can cause internal injuries such as internal blockage and internal bleeding. Choose a sturdy bone based on the size and chewing ability of your dog. Raw bones are acceptable only if you supervise it.

  • Dental Disease Treatment

Your GSD could be suffering from dental diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis if his breath smells bad or if you notice him losing interest in playing toys, salivating more and fussy with his food. Contact your vet immediately so he can check if your dog needs treatments such as administration of antibiotics to fight the infection and tooth extraction.

Is it normal if the color of my GSD’s gums has suddenly changed to a different color?

The color of your GSD’s gums can tell you about his health. If the color of your GSD’s gums suddenly changed, it can indicate an illness.  Therefore, it is important to take your GSD to your vet as soon as possible. The following colors can indicate health issues:

  • Pale or White – Anemia is the leading reason for pale or white gums in dogs. It is caused by internal or external bleeding and infections. Other reasons for pale gums include shock, liver shunt, and dehydration.
  • Slightly Red– Red gums can be an indication of gingivitis or inflammation of the gums.
  • Bright, Cherry Red– Bright red gums can indicate exposure to toxins and heat stroke. 
  • Yellow– If your GSD’s gums are yellow, it can be a sign of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can be passed to humans. Another reason is jaundice, which can be a sign of liver disease.

Common German Shepherd Teeth and Gums Issues

If you disregard your GSD’s dental care, he might suffer from these common dental issues:

  • Plaque and Tartar

Plaque is a film that can build up on your GSD’s teeth if you don’t regularly brush his teeth. If plaque is not removed through brushing, it hardens and becomes tartar. This usually starts to show on the molars and premolars. Then, it shows on the canines. 

  • Gingivitis

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the GSD’s gums. This develops when the plaque is not removed. This causes the gums to be inflamed so the gums bleed easily. If you don’t treat this problem right away, it can become a more serious infection known as periodontitis.

  • Periodontitis or periodontal disease

Periodontitis is a GSD gum disease that affects not only the gums but also other tissues around the teeth. This will result in bone loss.

  • Bad Breath (Halitosis) 

Bad breath is a sign of periodontal disease. If a GSD’s teeth are not brushed properly, it can lead to plaque and tartar buildup that causes dog halitosis or bad breath in dogs. In some cases, it could be a symptom of internal organ damage.

Conclusion

Let’s treat our dog well by not overlooking their dental care. As early as now practice good dental care by brushing your GSDs teeth and taking him to the vet for dental treatment. Who knows? Your dog might thank you with a kiss.

Interesting Facts

Do GSDs in the Navy SEAL have titanium teeth?

Navy SEAL dogs are heavily trained so they can perform extraordinary military missions like capturing terrorists. No wonder the people were amazed when the media sensationalized the Navy SEAL dogs with titanium fangs.  GSDs in the Navy SEAL don’t normally have titanium teeth. Jeff Franklin, owner of Cobra Canine (a dog training center) said GSDs can have titanium teeth only “if a dog breaks a tooth … it’s the same as a crown for a human.” No titanium teeth can beat the strength of a real Navy SEAL dog’s teeth.

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