Fido might never have minty fresh breath, but it shouldn't be bad enough to be noticeable from feet away. If you love to cuddle on the sofa with your pooch but his breath makes you cringe, look into canine dental care. Stinky dog breath can have a number of causes, most of them related to oral health.
A buildup of food particles, bacteria and tartar on a dog's teeth, gum line and tongue is a common cause of canine halitosis. Though not a replacement for teeth brushing or regular dental care, daily dental chews or other hard treats help remove some of the tartar and buildup from your pooch's teeth. Some dental chews are coated with a substance that helps prevent plaque development. Visit your local pet store to find a large selection of tartar-control treats. Some are crunchy biscuits, some hold up to chewing, some are molded in the shape of a toothbrush. Some are made of rawhide or canine-safe bones. As your dog enjoys the treat, the rough surface scrapes tartar off his teeth.
Tooth-brushing is an important part of Fido’s grooming routine. Daily brushing is best, though once a week is the minimum for canine health. Your vet can advise you on the best toothbrush and toothpaste for your pet; well-informed pet-store personnel can provide some insight, too. Don't use dental products designed for humans. Canine toothbrushes come in different styles and sizes for a dog's mouth and teeth. Fingertip toothbrushes are especially easy to use. If you start regular tooth-brushing when your dog is young, he will quickly accept the routine. An older dog might need to work up to the toothbrush. Start by wiping his teeth with a soft washcloth while praising him enthusiastically. Once he accepts that, use the toothbrush without toothpaste. Finally, brush his teeth with doggy toothpaste.
Just as you visit the dentist for periodic cleanings, your dog needs professional dental care on a regular basis. Smaller breeds and short-faced breeds like pugs need annual cleanings. Larger breeds can go longer between cleanings, but your vet should inspect your dog's mouth at his annual checkup. During a thorough cleaning, a dog is anesthesized. The vet will remove all tartar and plaque from the teeth and below the gum line, as well as smooth any chipped teeth, evaluate gum disease and remove rotted or damaged teeth. Excessive buildup of plaque and decayed teeth are the most common causes of doggy bad breath; regular dental care helps keep Fido's breath pleasant.
Though canine bad breath is most often the result of poor oral care, other medical conditions can create foul breath. If you are brushing your dog's teeth on a regular basis, and his mouth is healthy and he isn't eating stinky foods, it's time for your vet to perform a thorough health evaluation. Kidney or liver disease can cause smelly breath, as can diabetes or other metabolic disorders. Some cancers cause bad breath, along with sores or growths in the dog's mouth. Your vet can diagnose these conditions and advise treatment to manage your pet's health.
- Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images