TODAY   |  October 26, 2013

Need to brush your dog’s teeth? A vet shows us how

Keep that puppy smiling bright! Veterinarian Tim Schwab stopped by the TODAY plaza with a couple furry friends to offer advice to pet owners.

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

>>> how to keep your dog's teeth clean and how to recognize when they have back pain. dr. tim schwab who is a veterinarian and kim rappaport is here with a couple of great pooches. let me ask you, tim , about this question over dog food and there have been dogs that have died as a result of contaminated food and talk about federal regulations regulating dog food the way they do people food .

>> it's about time. i have seen two of the cases, one in 2007 and one more recently with the jerky and the dogs died horrible deaths, they really did. it's about time there is some regulation that is stepped up to say, okay, let's make sure our pets are safe.

>> anything you can do as. owners?

>> you have to know your pet. that is one of the things. i always say you know your pet better. if they are doing something weird, go to your veterinarian and keep the packaging of the doing and personally read the package, right? for me, i buy in the usa. right? so make sure you know where your food is coming from or buy from a manufacturer that has a good name behind it.

>> i want to hurry through this segment because somebody over here is shivering. do you brush your dog's teeth?

>> i would love to but i would lose a finger. two problems we are dealing with, back issues and teeth problems and if you have small dogs that can end up being huge problems, not only for you your beloved pet but for your wallet.

>> the teeth issues with dogs, tim , do we brush them like we brush our teeth?

>> we are supposed to, really are. the thing it's not just losing friends because your dogs have bad breath and lick their faces. it's more of an issue of dental health but it can affect liver, lungs, heart. so it's a really important thing to have a good dental care program. we recommend dogs have annual clengs at your veterinarian but at home you should be doing daily brushing if they will let you but not all will.

>> a lot of people are nervous about that because they have to go under anesthesia for a teeth cleaning .

>> the deal with human toothpaste it foams and has fluoride in it so two things we don't want for our pets. dogs don't like foamy mouths. one of the things you want to start with, if you have a dog never had her teeth brushed you don't want to shove the toothbrush in their mouth.

>> like with ruby.

>> make it into a positive experience. miss madison here is an expert and gets her teeth cleaned very commonly at home but they have different flavored tooth pastes. so it's just like if you or i were to brush a kid's teeth, at least mine, you lift up their lip, right? and what you're doing is 45 degrees. you're actually going to start bringing it down and the goal here is to try to get some of that debris off. some dogs won't let you brush their teeth. they can have dental diets where break off tarter and special tools too.

>> we talked about back pain. you have a simple way we can tell if a dog --

>> this is a classic dog that has so many problems and her back went on her. once, she had to have six weeks recovery.

>> that is one of the things with it. it's something i carry a lot about is the surgery i have to do a lot. any dog can do it but dogs that are long with these turned out legs, their disks are the shock absorbers of the spinal cord and if you generate early and can actually go up and press on the spinal cord . at home the signs that you'll see, you know, that is why you need a vet to interpret it, but some dogs it just makes them really uncomfortable and painful. they won't jump up on the couch.

>> what do we do to find out?

>> the things we do is we feel their lower back to see if there is any pain. one clear indication of a neurologic issue is if your dog, you turn their foot over and they don't turn it right back it means the signal is not getting there.

>> thank goodness it turned back. i keep her very thin. they tell you to keep them under weight and i did swimming with her to keep her strong.

>> if you have a dog at risk for this problem, watch big jumps. off the couch and bed you'll see it because that is the only time these disks are in compression.

>> very good information. nice to have you both here and