What to Do About Bad Dog Breath
Even at its best, dog breath is far from minty fresh. Dealing with not-so-fresh dog breath is part of being a pet parent! But especially bad dog breath can be a warning sign of a bigger problem, like gum disease or potentially fatal abscesses.
WHAT CAUSES BAD BREATH IN DOGS?
Dog bad breath begins with plaque and tartar buildup. Heavy buildup can cause gum problems in your dog’s mouth. The bacteria from these problems can circulate in the system and lead to pneumonia or heart, liver, or kidney problems, which could, in turn, prove fatal.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT DOG BAD BREATH?
One of the ways you can help prevent bad breath in your dog (and the oral problems that come with it) is to brush his teeth. Establishing a dog dental care routine can help to slow or prevent plaque and tartar buildup, thus helping to prevent gum disease, which can lead to abscesses.
HOW DO YOU CLEAN DOG TEETH?
First, find a toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Never use human toothpaste on your dog, as it usually contains fluoride which can be harmful if swallowed. Dog toothpaste typically comes in a dog-friendly flavor like chicken or liver, which your dog will like way more than the minty flavor of human toothpaste. If you’re brushing your dog’s teeth for the first time, flavored toothpaste may make it easier, as he’ll enjoy the taste and so may be more willing to cooperate.
You can find dog toothpaste and toothbrushes at your local pet supply store. Some dog toothbrushes are very similar to human toothbrushes, and some are just a small plastic device covered with bristles that fits over your finger. Choose whichever brush makes you and your dog most comfortable.
No matter what age your dog is, try to make tooth brushing stress-free, if not enjoyable. Start by just rubbing a couple of teeth at a time. Brush the teeth in a circular motion, paying special attention to the area near the gums. Stop cleaning if your dog starts to pull away. Reward him when he holds still. Remember to be patient. In the beginning, it may take you a week to clean your dog’s entire mouth. Over time, as your dog gets more used to his dental routine, the process will get easier.
Brushing your dog’s teeth even once a week will help slow plaque and tartar buildup, but try to do it more if you can. The more you brush, the better his breath will smell.
DOES RAWHIDE HELP CLEAN DOG TEETH?
Yes! In addition to brushing your dog’s teeth, giving him rawhide bones to chew on can also help clean his teeth and freshen his breath. Regular chewing on a rawhide bone or similar rawhide chew treat helps prevent plaque buildup. As with any chew treat or bone you give to your dog, make sure it is the appropriate size and strength.
Some chew toys are made specifically for dog dental health. Look for chews and treats with texture that will help scrape away the plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth as he chews. Hard, crunchy dog biscuits and dry food can also help, although you can’t rely on those alone.
SHOULD I GET MY DOG’S TEETH PROFESSIONALLY CLEANED?
If tartar has already built up on your dog’s teeth, home brushing and rawhide chews may not be enough to fix the problem. You may need to make an appointment with your veterinarian to have a professional cleaning. A professional cleaning will leave your dog with fresh breath and clean teeth. After that, it’s your job to maintain a dog dental routine with regular brushing, rawhide chews, chew toys, and crunchy treats.