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Ask a vet: How often should I brush my pet's teeth?

May 11, 2010 |  4:40 pm

Have a nonemergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford has some tips for reader Cheryl about proper dental hygiene practices for pets.

Cheryl's question: How often do dogs and cats need to have their teeth brushed? In reality, this hardly ever happens for my pets. What is a minimum frequency you recommend?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Great question, Cheryl. Veterinary dentists recommend brushing pets' teeth every other day for optimal dental health. Pet toothbrushes come in different sizes, depending on the size of the mouth, and they even have finger brushes that resemble thimbles with bristles for cats.

It is imperative that you use veterinary toothpaste since pets will swallow the toothpaste, and regular paste for people can cause severe stomach upset. Besides, they make salmon, beef, chicken and malt flavor, which could actually help to make teeth brushing a more pleasant experience for everyone.

To submit your question for Dr. Oxford, just leave a comment on this post or send us a Tweet @LATunleashed and look for her answer in an upcoming installment of Ask a Vet!

About our vet: Dr. Oxford received her bachelor of science degree at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.  She also received a master's of public health degree in epidemiology from Emory University and went on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She then went to the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree.  She practices at California Animal Rehabilitation and also is certified in veterinary rehabilitation and acupuncture. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Wade, and German shepherd, Tess.

Video: Sophie the pug practices brushing her teeth, albeit not using a veterinarian-recommended technique. (We think Sophie's pretty cute, anyway.) Credit: Linda Nixon via YouTube

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