I was concerned when I saw the grey, discolored molar in the back of my dog's mouth and I immediately decided I was going to start brushing her teeth. A trip to the local pet store gave me many choices of what to buy. There was a toothbrush, as well as a fingertip brush. I chose the kit with both. It also included the peanut butter flavored toothpaste, which I hoped my treat loving pup would enjoy.

I took the toothbrush that looked just like mine, I ran it under water as I would do with mine and then added a dab of the doggy dental paste. As I lifted her cheek, I noticed some redness and sores on her gums, and I decided a visit to the vet would be a good idea before trying the seeminlgy 'torturous toothbrush'.

"It is important to check with your veterinarian first, as in some cases the degree of periodontal disease may be so advanced that this could be painful to your pet or not be effective." Said Dr. John Gaboian of Animal Hospital at Vista Lakes.

After further inspection, Dr. John determined my Emi's molar was broken. I was horrified I did not notice her broken tooth, as she never showed any signs of pain. "Dogs are amazing animals and can be very resilient." Gaboian said. "In previous times, many dental issues were not diagnosed or simply ignored due to the cost of addressing these issues. That is not to say that dogs of previous generations (or ones in the wild) did not suffer from the same oral diseases of today. Fortunately now, we are more knowledgeable and have the ability to address these concerns in order to extend their life expectancy as well as fix these problems that can lead to pain and suffering."

From that moment, I decided this tooth brushing idea was definitely going to become a reality for a few reasons. One, having a routine of checking my dogs' teeth, gums, breath and tongue. Two, to prevent plaque and tartar build up. Three, to prevent periodontal disease. And four, to reduce damage to my dogs' internal organs. "The presence of untreated dental disease in pets is known to lead to serious life threatening concerns like heart, liver, and kidney disease. All of these things can be avoided with daily brushing, as well as following any other recommendations by your veterinarian." Gaboian said.

After the post check-up and the thumbs up from Dr. John, Emi and her sister Yuka were approved for cleaning of the canines' canines!

I started by the offering of the doggy dental paste to my girls on my finger... they liked it! Then I decided on using the toothbrush that resembled my own and I began the process just like I would my own. I ran the toothbrush under the faucet and put a dollop of paste on the brush. I slipped my thumb under the flews (lips) and pulled back the cheek (see photo) in order to get to the back molars. I brushed each tooth about 12 strokes each. I started with the molars (big, back teeth), then the canines (long, pointed teeth), and then the incisors (front teeth) and then worked my way to the other side. Success! I make this their nightly routine, just like my own, right before bedtime.

If your dog seems resistant, don't give up! Dr. Gaboian Agrees. "It may take some time to train your dog to let you brush his or her teeth, but the health benefits and the potential to prevent expensive extractions and dental procedures is worth it."

February is National Pet Dental Health month... you know the "drill"... make an appointment with your veterinarian for an evaluation today!

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