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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Is There A Doctor In The House?

Yes! And her name is Dr. Elizabette Cohen, DVM, and she's quite the famous veterinarian. Dr. Cohen has been doing radio spots called "Your Healthy and Happy Pet" for CBS since 2004-every Saturday and Sunday you can hear two different, 60 second segments played over several times each day. Check out CBS News Radio 880 and Dr. Cohen's bio here: newyork.cbslocal.com/personality/dr-elizabette-cohen/
Dr. Cohen earned her DVM from Cornell, and has been practicing in New York since 1988. She also published a book called, "All of My Patients Wear Fur" in 2008-it sneaks in a lot of pet health information under the guise of funny stories, and 100% of the proceeds go to pet shelters if the book is purchased from her website.

Parental Unit and I had the privilege of talking with her last week about her work for the Hartz Corporation, as well as her extensive community service work. Dr. Cohen is a consultant for Hartz and has personally tested, or has overseen the testing of all of their products. We hope to talk with Dr. Cohen on a regular basis for this blog, as frequently as her busy schedule allows, but this time our conversation focused on one of the hottest topics in pet health care: Dental health.

Now, I assure you, I chimed in on the conversation, but mostly from the floor where I was waiting for crumbs to drop (Parental Unit was trying to discretely stuff in a few cookies during their conversation).

So away we go...

Q: Do Parental Units really have to brush their pets' teeth every day?

A: Well, if you want to prevent tartar build-up (and you do) the answer is a resounding "Yes"!
Dr. Cohen explained that invisible plaque (the precursor to that really hard yellow/brown stuff called tartar) starts to form on the teeth within a few hours after a meal. And tartar forms within the next 24 hours, so the ideal is to brush your pets' teeth once every day.
And here's something interesting: What humans laughingly refer to as "Doggie (or Kitty) Breath" is not normal! We're guessing that's what would happen to humans who didn't brush their teeth every day, right? "Human breath"-ugh!

Anyway, here are some tips from Dr. Cohen to help you Parental Units get this daily brushing right:

1. Use a special pet toothbrush or finger brush and pet toothpaste-do not use human toothpaste! Hint: pet toothpaste is flavored like beef or chicken or something equally appealing.

2. Start your pet on a brushing routine as soon as you get your new furkids-whether they're puppies/kittens or adults.

3. Use positive reinforcement-like treats prior to brushing.

4. And for extra insurance against tartar build-up, give a Hartz "Crunch and Clean' biscuit after each meal and after each tooth brushing. According to Hartz and Dr. Cohen, these biscuits work in two ways:

__ they include an ingredient that works as a "dental shield" by "bonding with components in your pet's saliva", to prevent new tartar formation. They also contain chlorophyll, that freshens breath (like when humans eat a sprig of parsley after a meal to freshen their breath).
__ they are extra crunchy (much more so than kibble) to provide an added abrasive action to clean teeth and massage gums.

Note: neither Parental Unit nor I am endorsing or promoting the use of Hartz Crunch and Clean biscuits, we are just repeating what was said during our conversation with Dr. Cohen. Please see additional note below.

Q: Is there some substitute for brushing? What if I'm afraid my dog will bite me or my cat will not sit still long enough for a brushing?

A: No, there really isn't a substitute for daily brushing. If you really can't brush, after you have patiently tried all kinds of positive reinforcement (lack of time isn't an excuse, folks), then you should schedule a teeth cleaning with your veterinarian once every 6 months, or at a minimum, once a year. Why, you ask?

Get this: Healthy (tartar free) teeth and nice firm, pink gums ( not puffy, red and bleeding from Gingivitis) can help prevents tooth and gum infection (like Gingivitis), and heart, liver and kidney infections and disease.
And this: If you brush your pet's teeth every day, you may not ever have to risk putting your pet  under anesthesia or pay your veterinarian for a professional teeth cleaning.

And one more thing:
Dr. Cohen said that it's possible, if both your pet and your vet are willing, to do a bit of tartar scraping in the vet's office without anesthesia-just a quick scrape of some of the larger hunks of tartar-she's done this many times.

If you have other questions about pet dental health, check out the American Veterinary Dental Society website.

Additional Note: Neither Parental Unit nor I were compensated in any way for conducting the interview with Dr. Cohen or for writing this post. We did, however, receive one box of Hartz Crunch and Clean Biscuits in the mail today, courtesy of Hartz. We have agreed to do a review of these biscuits on our blog at a later time, and Hartz has agreed to give five of our lucky readers a box of these biscuits to try too! So stay tuned for a give-a-way!


Noah said...

Love this post Bocci! Dad has started me on that very regiment after reading up on the importance of daily brushing for your pet. Thank you for the additional information, very helpful.

Molly the Airedale said...

Mom tried brushing my toofies at one point in my life but gave up. She said that I was eating too much toothpaste and not enough brushing was going on.

Love ya lots,

Unknown said...

We are very good about brushing our teeth - we hate it but the lady will not stop!

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