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What to do about doggy breath

A good, old-fashioned toothbrush cleaning really helps

MetPet.com Staff Writer

gen_mout.gif (4416 bytes)Yeech!  You love your dog but not his breath.  So what can you do about it?  Bad breath can come from eating certain foods and it can also indicate more serious diseases.  Doggy breath, however, most often comes from gum disease and bacteria in the mouth and on the tongue.  You can change his food and his eating habits and try commercially available chews but you still have to get out the toothbrush and paste for the best results. 

New Eating Habits 
Since the bacteria from foods is likely the culprit, try feeding less frequently and eliminating those between-meal snacks.  You can try substituting dry food for canned or even try a balanced homemade diet that includes whole grains and raw vegetables for roughage. 

If your dog has lots of dental problems, it's worth considering providing him food in fewer meals and nixing all long-lasting treats.  Food doesn't spend as much time in his mouth possibly leading to fewer problems. 

Toothbrush and Paste 
For medium to large dogs you can get a soft child-sized toothbrush.  For toy dogs you can wrap your finger in gauze or use a fingertip toothbrush designed just for dogs.  There are several meat or peanut butter flavored toothpastes that  for your dog can safely ingest.  Human toothpaste isn't made to be ingested in large quantities by dogs and may cause indigestion.  Dogs also may not like the minty taste.

Start by brushing just the front teeth or canines at least a few times a week.  You can eventually brush all his teeth daily.  Some dogs even get used to electric toothbrushes and actually look forward to the attention!

If you absolutely cannot brush his teeth, you can try one of the chewy nylon toys or products such as Greenies.  Some have slits into which you can squeeze some toothpaste.  Hard biscuits, rawhide and chew toys in general may help somewhat but nothing beats regular brushing.  Some studies show no appreciable benefit from chews and hard biscuits while others show a great deal.  Only your dog's teeth will tell!

Professional teeth cleaning
Depending on the individual, your dog may need tartar removal and general dentistry from his vet every few years.  Some dogs develop tartar at an astounding rate while others can go for years with barely any.  Since dogs are not very cooperative in this department, teeth cleaning requires general anesthesia.  Therefore, it is a good idea to schedule several anesthesia-requiring procedures at the same time.  This not only saves you money but saves your dog from undue stress and risk.  General anesthesia requires blood work beforehand and is riskier for senior dogs who are usually in need of more dental work than younger dogs. 

Sometimes bad breath can come from disorders and diseases that are not mouth-based.  Bad breath in conjunction with other symptoms such as excessive drinking, urination, weight-loss, behavioral changes etc. can be a sign of a more serious illness such as kidney or liver problems and diabetes.  Diabetes, for example, can result in a an oddly sweet breath caused by the increase in blood sugar.   Consult your vet if you see something unusual. 

A dog with clean, healthy teeth and fresh breath is a true joy!

Related Information:
Bathing the Dog
Trimming Your Dog's Nails
Periodontal Disease in Pets
 

 

 
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