Do you love your dog but not his breath? If your dog has chronically bad breath, it’s not only affecting your loving relationship, but it’s also a sign of health problems. The most likely culprit is periodontal disease.
If you’re living with a stinker, run — don’t walk — to your veterinarian. Bad breath is often caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar. If it’s turning your dog’s breath into a lethal gas, your dog’s mouth is probably filled with bacteria. Bad teeth not only smells; they are often painful. The bad bacteria inhibiting your dog’s mouth can lead to loose teeth, poor appetite, low energy, drooling, pawing at the mouth and even depression. And the longer it’s left untreated, the more your dog’s health is affected.
Tooth and Gum Disease
Periodontal disease has stages. The first stage is plaque buildup, which is a bacterial infection. The plaque turns into tarter, leading inflamed gums. If not treated, this leads to gingivitis, or gum disease.
When the bacteria migrate beneath the gum line, things start to get serious. This is where stages two through four occur, with bone loss happening.
The bacteria secrete toxins, which leads to mild and eventually severe periodontitis. It damages the tooth, the surrounding tissue and the bone. All this begins to stress your dog’s immune system. Eventually, periodontal disease can affect the heart, liver and kidneys.
The first step in treating periodontal disease is a teeth cleaning by a veterinarian done under anesthesia.
Professional Veterinary Dental Cleaning
The vet will do an initial exam to determine your dog’s dental condition, rule out any other conditions causing bad breath, such as diabetes, and run bloodwork to make sure your pooch can handle the anesthesia. This is also the time to ask any questions, including inquiring about the anesthesia. Inhalation mask anesthesia is often the preferred choice as it leaves the dog’s airway clear, allows fast control of the depth of the anesthesia and leads to a quicker and safer recovery. It’s also safer for small breeds who don’t tolerate general, IV anesthesia as well as larger breeds.
Your veterinarian will provide pre- and post-surgery instructions. This usually includes no food or water for a minimum of 8 hours but preferably 12 hours before anesthesia. While your dog is asleep, X-rays are taken, then a full cleaning under the gum line is done followed by scraping and scaling to remove plaque and tartar. After surgery, your vet will send you home with pain medication and further instructions.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
The most effective solution to keep your dog’s breath smelling sweet is to brush his teeth. Daily brushing is recommended. It may take some time to acclimate your dog to the toothbrush, so be patient. There are techniques to use to clean your dog’s teeth so your dog doesn’t hate it.
You’ll need a toothbrush made specifically for dogs, as well as doggie toothpaste. For a natural alternative, use coconut oil instead of toothpaste. Brushing your dog’s teeth will not only keep dental disease at bay, but it will keep his breath smelling sweet.
Some dogs just won’t tolerate a toothbrush in their mouth. If you live with one of these naysayers, there are other solutions for keeping his pearly whites white and his breath fresh.
Dental gels are used without a brush. Just rub two drops of the gel on each side of his mouth, and you’re done! You can also use a finger toothbrush for better results. For the best result, withhold food and water for half hour after application.
Dental Chews and Sticks
Dental chews are designed to remove plaque, prevent tartar, and keep your dog’s gums healthy. Some of them are shaped like a toothbrush, and most contain good-for-you ingredients. Our Bye, Bye Dog Breath Sticks contain pumice, zinc, and natural zeolites for fighting plaque; cranberry, taurine, yucca and coenzyme Q10 to keep gums healthy; probiotics and cinnamon to support healthy bacteria that kills off plaque-causing bacteria; and champignon mushroom extract, spirulina and parsley to keep the breath smelling fresh.
Dental powders and supplements are sprinkled on top of your dog’s food. They work to help keep the teeth clean, the gums healthy and the breath fresh. Canident is seaweed for dogs. From Ireland, seaweed is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and trace elements as well as unique bio-active compounds. And Bye, Bye Dog Breath Dental Powder contains many of the same ingredients in the sticks, plus lactobacillus acidophilus to support healthy bacteria in your dog’s mouth and vegetable fats which add essential fatty acids and help the powder adhere to the teeth.
Sprays and Water Additives
These can be used as a quick fix if your dog got into something particularly stinky, but these don’t replace brushing, powders or dental chews. Simply spray on your dog’s teeth and you’re done. If your dog will not let your spray into his mouth, you can spray into his water, or try a dental water additive. Just add a capful to the water bowl.