by Cate Burnette, RVT
Stinky dog breath is most often caused by an accumulation of bacteria and decomposing food particles in your pooch’s mouth. As he eats, tiny bits of whatever he consumes get trapped between his teeth and, if left in his mouth, cause a brown, tacky substance called plaque, or tartar.
When the tartar hardens on the tooth, it becomes a solid, concrete-like substance called calculus. It’s the tartar and the calculus in your dog’s mouth that traps the bacteria and allows it to grow in that warm, moist environment causing periodontal disease. Not only does that bacteria smell bad, it can travel throughout your dog’s body, causing infection and possible heart and kidney disease.
As a pet parent, you have several options to help cure that bad breath.
Veterinary Teeth Cleaning
During your dog’s annual exam, your veterinarian examines his mouth checking for bad teeth, inflamed gums, and any unusual tumors or growths. Typically, if your dog shows signs of periodontal disease, your vet will recommend that you allow for a prophylactic dental cleaning under general anesthesia.
During this procedure, the tartar and calculus on your dog’s teeth is scraped completely away, and the roots under the gum line are probed for any open pockets of infection. Additionally, the vet removes any loose or broken teeth that may be causing pain and not allowing your pet to chew properly.
Once the teeth are polished and your dog’s mouth is rinsed by an anti-bacterial wash, the bacteria causing the odor have no place to attach to the tooth, and you’ll notice a bright, clean smell coming from your pet’s mouth.
To keep those teeth clean and your dog’s mouth smelling good, you’ll need to brush his teeth on a regular basis at home – at least 3 to 4 times a week.
Home Brushing With Natural Products
Because many human types of toothpaste contain xylitol, a sweetening ingredient that is harmful to a dog’s digestive system, home brushing requires that you purchase special canine toothpaste. Many veterinarians recommend trying natural doggy toothpaste containing organic ingredients such as tea tree oil, with its fresh smell, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, and potassium phosphate that reduces tartar build-up.
On the days you’re not brushing, you can run gentle, alcohol-free dental wipes over his teeth and gums to remove food particles and bacteria, and freshen his breath. Organic peppermint in the wipes works as an astringent, while pomegranate extract and sodium bicarbonate mechanically clean the teeth to reduce plaque and gum disease.
Further all-natural treatment can include a daily dose of pro-biotic anti-plaque spray to reduce the harmful oral bacteria causing your dog’s bad breath and plaque. The pro-biotics in the spray kill off the bad disease-causing bacteria, while fruit concentrates high in antioxidants reduce inflammation and promote healthy gums. Free from any flourides, added detergents, or synthetic colors or flavors, a pro-biotic spray used on a regular basis can stop tartar build-up before it starts.
Keeping your dog’s mouth and teeth shiny and clean, can help your furbaby enjoy a long, healthy life, AND let you enjoy his kisses with clean, fresh breath.