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Brush your pet's teeth to save money on your veterinary bills

In many ways, I treat my dogs like they're my children. Besides providing food, shelter and love, I take them to training classes, plan dog-friendly outings and even buy them accessories that I'm sure suit their personalities. What I don't do is brush their teeth. It's just not something that I think about, although my vet reminds me every time "the girls" get a checkup.

After watching thisvideo from the American Veterinary Dental Society and in honor of February being Pet Dental Health Month, I've decided to try to make brushing my girls' teeth a habit. The video offers simple step-by-step instructions.

Still not convinced? The Georgia Veterinary Medical Association reminds pet owners that preventive care can result in long-term savings. Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets, according to the AVDS.

While regular dental checkups are essential to help maintain your pet’s dental health, there are a number of signs that dental disease has already started. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pet into your veterinarian as soon as possible:

- Bad breath: Most pets have breath that is less than fresh, but if it becomes truly repugnant, that’s a sign that periodontal disease has already started.

- Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth.

- Reluctance to eat hard foods.

- Red swollen gums and brownish teeth.