If your pet has bad breath, it could be a sign of some serious dental problems. Although using the term “dog breath” to describe undesirable breath is commonly tossed around, the fact is that dogs should not have foul breath. If your dog does, there are steps you can take to help makes its breath fresher and to keep it healthy.
One major cause of bad breath in a dog is periodontal disease, or gingivitis. In a healthy dog, the gums are a coral pink color and the breath, while not necessarily pleasant, is not foul. When a dog is in the early stages of gingivitis, however, it will have brownish deposits on the back of its teeth. It might also have a thin red line running along its gums and foul breath. These symptoms are fairly common in a two or three year old dog whose mouth has not been properly cared for.
Moderate periodontal disease is the result of neglecting the pet’s mouth for several years. Those pets that eat soft food are also more prone to developing moderate periodontal disease. When your dog reaches this stage, its root attachment has started to deteriorate. In addition, part of the bone structure providing the tooth with support is gone. These factors make it difficult for your pet to chew, and lack of chewing actually worsens the problem.
There are steps a veterinarian can take to help correct the mouth of a pet that has reached this stage. First, he or she can provide your dog’s mouth with a thorough cleaning, particularly the affected teeth. Then, the vet can apply a special antibiotic gel under the gums in the area where the bacteria has settled.
This gel then solidifies and gradually dissolves over a two week period in order to slowly release the antibiotics into the pet’s gums. This helps kill the bacteria and encourages the dog’s gums to reattach themselves to the teeth. It may take several treatments, but your pet’s mouth can eventually return to normal.
If you don’t get help for your pet at this stage and you continue to neglect its mouth, it will reach the advanced periodontal disease stage. At this point, there is little hope of getting your pet’s mouth back to normal. Advanced periodontal disease is also very painful for your pet and its teeth become loose and ultimately fall out. If they do not fall out on their own, they may need to be removed in order to prevent further damage. In addition, your pet’s breath will be quite offensive at this point.
Caring for Your Dog’s Mouth
There are a number of things you can do for your dog’s mouth to keep it healthy and to prevent it from becoming stinky. First of all, you can encourage your dog to chew. Rawhide chews, dog biscuits, bones, and chew toys can all be great for encouraging chewing. Chewing is not only fun for your pet, but it also helps scrape the teeth clean.
Rawhide chews and dog biscuits, however, can be a bit fattening. Therefore, you might want to avoid these chew treats, particularly if your dog is already struggling with its weight. In addition, any dog biscuits you give to your dog should be large. Small ones can be swallowed up quickly and require very little chewing, so they don’t do your dog’s mouth much good.
Bones can also be a risk because cooked bones or bones fed to older dogs can cause constipation. Some bones can also splinter or be easily swallowed whole, which can cause harm to the intestine. Overly dry bones can cause fracturing of the teeth and spoiled bones can lead to food poisoning. Therefore, it is important to select your bones carefully.
Chew toys are often the best choice for encouraging chewing. These toys are made to endure being chewed by your dog without causing it harm. In addition, some are made especially for use with doggie dental toothpaste. You can put some of the toothpaste, which is meat flavored, on the chew toy and watch your canine friend brush its own teeth.
Of course, you can, and should, also set aside a time each day to brush your dog’s teeth. It is best to start this process when your pet is still young so it will get used to the routine. You should also introduce tooth brushing gradually so your pet has time to adjust. Be sure to follow it up with plenty of praise and affection and, before you know, your dog will look forward to having its teeth brushed every day.