TODAY   |  May 02, 2013

Ask a vet: How to brush your dog’s teeth

TODAY animal advocate Jill Rappaport and veterinarian Brett Levitzke tackle common health concerns about dogs, including how to keep their teeth and ears clean.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> this morning on "today's pets." ask the vet, jill rappaport and brett lavitsky are here to answer pet questions.

>> hello.

>> hello, peattie .

>> he's been watching the show. i don't want to say i put him to sleep.

>> we have that effect on people.

>> but he's your dog?

>> yes, one of my five rescues. having five dogs, i've learned all about various illnesses from minor to major. and got my education without the degree. i thought this was helpful.

>> let's talk about some of these. we've got ears, eyes, and talk about teeth in a minute. let's begin, though, with the ears, ear infection is common for dogs.

>> very common. one of the most common things we've seen at the clinic. people notice they start scratching at their ears. what's going on here, we have a little discharge and the dog's just miserable. when children have ear infections , they're miserable, dogs feel the same thing.

>> what do you do about it? we've got things here to help.

>> wake him up for this.

>> we're going to have to get up for this.

>> that a boy, peattie .

>> one of the most important things to do at home so you can minimize having to go to the vet with these ear infections is routine maintenance.

>> which is what i do. i noticed he had an ear infection just by shaking his head.

>> and this time of year when the pollen's out, they get the same allergies we do, they become itchy, they scratch which predispose them to the infection. keep it clean, dry, you can prevent some trips to the vet.

>> what do you use in there?

>> an over the counter wash you can get at the local pet store or vet clinic. there's not always a need to run into the vet for these items. so you just squirt a little bit on the cotton ball here.

>> i massage his other ear. my way of relaxing him.

>> hey, buddy. and you can start with the outside. you just introduce the wet sensation to them and work your way into the ear canal .

>> he's taking this pretty well.

>> they usually do if you go gentle and he's an excellent patient here.

>> i do this on a regular basis. i know that's one of the ways people at home can tell if their pet has something going on.

>> we have a little bit of discharge here, and he shakes it out and no worse for the wear .

>> and let's go to this. we have a before picture. we have peattie before the tear staining and after the tear staining. there's the before. what pete looked like before.

>> his beautiful eyes , but see the tear staining. and this just happened within the last couple of months. and i changed hisog food thinking it was an allergy.

>> what's happening there, doc?

>> they have a pigment. and when they tear, it can build up on their inner part of their eye there. and anything that triggers excessive tearing such as allergies, eye infections, confirmational changes inhe eye as they get older and gained some weight.

>> what's a quick tatment we can do here?

>> well, they have over the counter , again -- simple things to do at home. they have these wipes.

>> nothing to eat.

>> he's very good.

>> we're 2 feet away from a cooking segment.

>> this is torture for peattie .

>> and you have to be careful not to get it in the eyes. you're so good, buddy. and you can get a little bit off. and there's also supplements you can put in the food.

>> okay. very quickly, we only have a couple seconds left. this is madison, brushing the teeth. what's the best way to tackle that?

>> madison's very good with this. you can get these dental products at your local pet store . you never want to use a human toothpaste. she's actually very good. take them out.

>> and you're using a regular toothbrush.

>> this is her favorite elmo toothbrush.

>> by the way, my son has the same toothbrush.

>> and it's chicken flavor, it's a little treat for her after. so she likes it.

>> they make that for a human? chicken flavored?

>> thank you so much. great tips for people to remember.