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Even Seals Need to Have Their Teeth Brushed

Good animal husbandry includes good dental care: for dogs, cats and seals.

All good pet owners know that a lack of good dental care can lead to health issues for their dog or cat.  Fido and Whiskers can get plaque, tartar and gingivitis, which can cause tooth decay or even infections that can lead to serious and even fatal problems.

(Here’s a link to what seems like good information for caring for your dog’s teeth: www.dummies.com/how-to/content/essential-grooming-brushing-your-dogs-teeth.html.  But consult your veterinarian before beginning a dental regimen.)

Seals also can have those dental issues. But, for seals – even seals in public aquariums that are comfortable with trainers – having a person put something in their mouths (aside from a fish) is very unnatural. As part of the animal-husbandry care here at The Maritime Aquarium, we’re working on training our seven harbor seals to allow our aquarists to touch their mouths and to hold their mouths open for occasional brushings.

‘Cause you know how annoying it is when you get a fish scale stuck between your teeth.

We don’t use Crest or Colgate. There’s a special product made for cleaning marine-mammal teeth.

When you attend a Maritime Aquarium seal show (at 11:45 a.m. and 1:45 & 3:45 p.m. daily), watch for the aquarists to demonstrate a brief teeth-brushing with Rasal and Orange. 

It’s no small feat, and one that must be done carefully because seal teeth are sharp – their canine teeth, for sure, but even the molars. (Why? As you know if you’ve seen a seal show, seals don’t chew their food. They swallow it whole. So even the molars are adapted to help to catch and hold prey.)

We bring all this up because October is National Dental Hygiene Month. In working to keep our seals’ pearly whites white, we encourage you to make periodic brushing a part of the routine care of your pets.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jaimie Cura October 17, 2012 at 03:33 AM
This is so cool - thank you for sharing!
Leslie Yager October 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM
At least with a dog the vet gives them anesthesia for teeth cleaning. Teeth cleaning for seals sounds like a major challenge! Sardine flavored toothpaste?

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