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A 'how-to' on dog teeth-brushing

Go slow when starting a teeth-brushing regimen with your pet, recommends Dr. Crystal Scott, a veterinarian with Kindness Animal Hospital in Grand Forks.

Go slow when starting a teeth-brushing regimen with your pet, recommends Dr. Crystal Scott, a veterinarian with Kindness Animal Hospital in Grand Forks.

"The best thing is, with a new puppy or kitten, to do it slowly," she said. "Get a pet-safe toothpaste that contains no fluoride and doesn't bubble."

Since a pet cannot spit, she said, it may swallow the lather which, if fluoride is an ingredient, can cause diarrhea or vomiting.

Scott suggests using a toothpaste made especially for babies or pets, she said.

Apply the pet toothpaste, which has a poultry or beef flavor, to the brush and let your pet lick it off, "so they associate the brush with a treat," she said.

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When brushing, "start with a couple of teeth and work your way up" to all of them, she said. The process can take several weeks to a month.

"It's ideal to brush your dog's teeth daily, but if that's not possible, then at least once weekly," she said.

For dogs that are older or too timid to allow teeth-brushing, she recommends "over-the-counter treats that contain enzymes to prevent bacteria from overgrowing the mouth" and special rawhides or other chew toys.

Smaller-breed dogs such as Yorkshire terriers and Chihuahuas, as well as middle-size dogs, "may end up needing teeth-cleaning" by a professional each year, she said, while "larger-breed dogs may go their whole lives without or only need one or two cleanings in their lifetimes."

Cats can be "more finicky" and not allow teeth-brushing, she said. For them, chew toys and dental treats may be the best option, or dental cleaning, under anesthesia, by a veterinarian.

Related Topics: FAMILYHEALTHPETS
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