We all enjoy a good puppy smooch from time to time, but when that semi-sweet canine breath turns pungent, it’s not just a cue to hold your own breath. Indeed, dog breath may be something dog owners become accustomed to, but it should never be ignored. Dog breath is the first obvious sign of gum disease and is a real threat to your pet’s overall health, happiness, and longevity.
Bad breath, or halitosis, is the result of odor-producing bacteria that has built up in your dog’s mouth. While it’s sometimes linked to other problems beyond the teeth and gums, dog breath is a red flag that something is amiss.
If the first noticeable sign is, in fact, rank dog breath. Chances are that other symptoms may be occurring inside the mouth.
An investigation into dog breath usually reveals a significant buildup of plaque and tartar along the gum line. Bacteria naturally occur inside the mouth, but when it forms on – and beneath – the gum line, it turns into plaque. Left alone, plaque turns into tartar, and with the help of your pet’s saliva, it turns into a hard substance called calculus.
Bacteria in the plaque secretes toxins that eat away at gum tissue, compromising the strength of the teeth, which can result in broken or lost teeth and fractured jaws. Deep pockets around the teeth harbor more bacteria, toxins, and pus.
This sounds pretty bad, right? It gets a lot worse when you consider that bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and be carried throughout the entire body. Indeed, oral bacteria can cause:
- Micro abscesses on the kidneys and liver that eventually cause decreased function and even failure
- Endocarditis (a thickening of the heart valves)
- Chronic disease, such as cancer, diabetes, and various autoimmune disorders
- Lung disease
Reversing Dog Breath
While a majority of dogs older than 3 years have developed gum disease in one stage or another, it’s entirely preventable through pet dental care. You can also adopt an approach that reduces the development of decay and disease.
- Professional Exam—If you have an adult pet, it’s best to have their teeth checked first. In addition to measuring progress of the disease and managing gum pockets, we can scale, clean, and polish the teeth, which further protects them. The removal of calculus, if any, should make your home routine more effective.
- Home Care—Brushing your pet’s teeth every day will help clean up the gum line, protecting it from plaque buildup. Most young dogs allow this without much resistance; older dogs may put up a fight. We’re happy to provide brushing tips and to help you find the right products. Human toothpaste should never be used on your pet.
Treats and Tools
There are many products available to help combat dog breath. Whether it’s dental treats, food, or certain chew toys, we recommend using products that meet the standards set by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.