Here’s How to Cure Your Dog’s Bad Breath

Believe it or not – one of the most commonly searched terms on the Internet is “dog bad breath cure”. Because bad breath in dogs is such a common problem, there are literally thousands of products on the market to treat or help bad dog breath. There are dozens of commercials and infomercials promoting dog bad breath products that “cure bad dog breath.” This has led me to test many of these products over the past decade. Products include various foods, treats, chews, water supplements, pills, capsules, powders, liquids, herbal therapies, and more.

First, an important question is “how do you identify what is causing your dog’s bad breath” and “how can you cure it?” Which products really work?

First, let’s identify what can cause bad breath.

How To Identify What’s Causing Your Dog’s Bad Breath

To identify the underlying cause of your dog’s breath may require a visit to your veterinarian.

Your vet may ask you the following questions:

  • How long has your dog had bad breath? Was it recent or has it been months?
  • What do you feed your dog? What brand and flavor of food are you feeding? What treats are you giving? Has there been any recent change in the food?
  • Does your dog have exposure to trash, dead animals, compost, the litter box, or other items that can be ingested, chewed, and that could lead to bad breath?
  • Does your dog have other symptoms? Respiratory diseases or infections, lung tumors, nasal tumors, and diabetes can all cause bad breath in dogs. Is your dog sneezing? Coughing? Having trouble breathing? Exercise intolerance? Increased thirst or urination? Has there been any recent change in weight e.g. unexplained weight loss or gain?
  • Is your dog vomiting or having diarrhea? Diseases involving the esophagus, stomach or intestines can cause bad breath.

Please discuss any abnormalities or concerns with your veterinarian.

Once your vet has a good history on your dog, they will likely perform a physical examination that includes listening to the heart and lungs, feeling the abdomen, and most importantly evaluating the teeth and mouth. Diseases of the teeth, mouth, and gums are the most common causes of bad dog breath.  Learn more about the causes of bad breath in this article My Dog’s Breath Stinks: What Are the Causes of Bad Breath? This article is also helpful – Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

What Kind of Treatment Will Help Eliminate Your Dog’s Stinky Breath

The best things you can do to help your dog’s bad breath is to see your veterinarian and allow them to help you determine the underlying cause of the bad breath. Based on the cause, they can recommend a dog bad breath cure. For example, if the cause is a respiratory infection, the treatment cure may be antibiotics. If the underlying problem is diabetes, they can treat your dog with insulin. If the cause is dental disease, the best treatment cure is a dental cleaning or other procedures to fix the underlying tooth or gum problem.

The ideal way to treat and cure stinky dog breath is to prevent it before it starts. Before your dog has dental disease, brush your dog’s teeth at daily. Plaque forms daily and takes 24 to 48 hours to turn to tartar. By brushing daily, you can remove the plaque and prevent it from turning to tartar.

The ideal time to begin brushing your dog’s teeth is either after a dental cleaning or when your dog is young and teeth are new and clean. In puppies, the ideal way to start is by touching your dog’s teeth and gums and give positive reinforcement for good behavior. Puppies do get bad breath as well. Learn about What Causes Bad Breath in Puppies?

To begin your tooth brushing routine, you will need a soft toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste with a flavor appealing to your dog. Do not use human toothpaste. Pick a time that works with your schedule so this can be part of your daily routine. Do not begin by brushing all your dog’s teeth in one session. Begin slowly by offering your dog the toothpaste only and provide plenty of praise when your dog responds positively. Gradually work up to a full 30-second brushing of all the teeth over a few weeks. For more details – go to “How to Brush Your Dog Teeth”. This article includes excellent information written by a veterinary dentist. Even with daily brushing, your dog may need thorough periodic professional dental cleanings.

Try These Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Bad Breath

Clients often ask for dog bad breath home remedy options.  We will give you suggestions for things you can do or make at home to help your dog’s bad breath. A veterinarian should see dogs with oral diseases or illnesses causing bad breath. They can identify the underlying cause of the bad breath and provide treatment recommendations to address the problem. This is the most effective way to treat bad breath in dogs.

11 Home Remedies to Help Bad Dog Breath

If your veterinarian examines your dog and determines his breath to be just bad “doggy breath” then the following home remedies may help your dog’s breath.

Here are some of our favorite home remedy options:

Fresh herbs. Fresh cut mint or parsley can help freshen breath. Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of your dog’s food daily. You can also make an herbal tea by mixing 1 tablespoon of fresh cut herb with 1 cup of hot water. Allow it to simmer then cool. Refrigerate and store in a sealed container. Add 1 teaspoon of this tea to your dog’s fresh water daily.

Coriander. Coriander is a green leafy herb that can help fight canine bad breath. You can add a small amount of chopped coriander to your dog’s food or create a tea. To make this home remedy, add three coriander leaves to one cup of hot water to make a coriander tea. Add 1 teaspoon to your dog’s fresh clean water once daily. Continue this for one week and repeat as needed.

Brush those teeth. A great way to treat bad breath is to prevent it by brushing your dog’s teeth on a daily basis. This is the best way to help prevent tartar from sticking to the teeth. All you need is a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a cooperative dog! Get our tips on How to Brush Your Dogs Teeth.

Try a home remedy toothbrush kit. Some dog owners make their own dental toothbrush kit using soft gauze wrapped around their finger for the brush and making a paste out of baking soda and water. This can work but most dogs often prefer flavored toothpaste and made for dogs.

Pick your dog’s food with care. Feed a high-quality dog diet formulated for your dog’s age and life stage. Poor quality foods made with inferior ingredients and preservatives can cause foul breath in dogs. Research the dog food and feed the best you can afford from a company you trust.  Good quality companies that make dog food include Acana, Fromm, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Foods, Natures Recipe, Orijen, Stella and Chewy’s, Taste of the Wild, Wellness Core and Zignature. Ensure that the foods you feed are not expired. Seal open bags or transfer kibble to a sealed container.

Water. Encourage your dog to drink by providing fresh clean water daily. Some dogs drink out of mud puddles or old smelly dishes with foul water. No wonder their breath stinks!

Clean the dog bowls. Consider not only what your dog eats but the bowls that he eats and drinks from. Dirty bowls can harbor bacteria and odors that can lead to bad breath.  Scrub your dogs bowls at least weekly with mild soap and water and rinse well. Running the bowls through the dishwasher is another great way to get them clean.

Chew toys. Buy chew toys that can help your dog to naturally scrape plaque and tartar from the teeth. Ensure the toy size is appropriate and durable for your dog. Toys too big or small can cause choking hazards. Toys with loose parts or that can be chewed up can be ingesting causing a gastrointestinal foreign body.

Probiotics.  Bad breath in dogs can be caused by digestive issues. Probiotics can help. Probiotics are substances that stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestinal flora. They consist of live bacteria and yeasts which can restore the good bacteria and reestablish the right balance of intestinal flora. Learn more about using probiotics and prebiotics in dogs.  Some probiotics come as a powder and others as a capsule. You can sprinkle the powder on the food or give your dog the capsule. You can open the capsule and sprinkle on the food or mix in the water.  You can also mix the contents of the powder or capsule with water, pull it up in a syringe, and give it orally. This is a great option if your dog won’t eat it on the food or take the capsule. Follow package directions or instructions from your veterinarian.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

Have you ever noticed that your dog has stinky breath? Some pet owners notice and complain that their dog’s breath smells like fish.  A fish odor can occur for several reasons, which we will review below.

The medical term for bad breath is “halitosis.” Bad breath can be caused by a dogs diet, ingestion of different foods or trash, be a warning sign of oral or dental disease, or can be a sign of a respiratory disease, infections, or other systemic problems such as diabetes.

What Can Cause Fishy Smelling Breath in Dogs?

There are dozens of causes of canine bad breath. Bad breath is considered a symptom. What that means is there are many potential underlying causes of bad breath. For example, dog breath smells like fish could be from something your dog ate, an ulcer in the mouth, or from a tooth infection. Some of the possible causes of fishy smelling breath are minor and others are more serious and require treatment.

Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs include:

  • Dietary indiscretion. A common cause for bad breath in dogs is their dietary indiscretion. Ingestion of dead animals, garbage, animal feces, compost, litter box wastes, or spoiled food can give your dog breath that smells like fish.
  • Gum disease.  Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue which is commonly caused by dental plaque. This results in swelling and redness of the gums as well as bad breath. Plaque develops when the normal bacteria in the mouth mix with proteins and starches found in saliva. This mix produces plaque material that adheres to the teeth. Eventually, plaque turns into tartar, which firmly adheres to the teeth. It is most obvious just below the gum line where it accumulates. A dog with breath that smelled like fish. This dog has plaque, tartar and an infected tooth as the dark black tooth on the right.
  • Periodontal disease.  Peritonitis is a disease of the tissues that support the teeth and is the leading cause of tooth loss in dogs. This disease affects over 80 percent of dogs over three years of age. Peritonitis is caused by bacteria that make up plaque. The total impact of periodontal disease is difficult to determine in dogs. It has been well studied in humans and is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” due to its destructive nature. In humans, in addition to tooth list, periodontal disease can cause aspiration pneumonia from small amounts of bacteria that are released into the bloodstream (bacteremia) resulting from when we chew or brush our teeth.
  • Tooth abscess. An abscessed tooth can cause dog breath that has the foul odor of fish. Some tooth abscesses are contained within the mouth and others will abscess up through the skin. It is common for a dog to present to the veterinarian for a draining wound on the cheek just below the eye.  Inspection of the wound can reveal an abscessed tooth. Treatment includes dental cleaning and possible tooth extraction (removal).
  • Oral ulcerations. Ulcers in the mouth can occur due to infections, reactions to certain drug therapy, or from a dog ingesting or licking caustic substances. Caustic substances may include cleaning chemicals, soap, and detergents, or liquid potpourri.
  • Many cleaning chemicals such as bleach or lye can cause oral ulcerations.
    • Laundry and dishwasher pods are colorful, soft and can look like a dog toy. Dogs can chew on or ingest these laundry or dishwater pods which can cause severe oral ulcerations. To learn more – go to Laundry or dishwater detergent pod toxicity in dogs.
    • Liquid potpourri is a common household item. Potpourri is scented and can be appealing to some dogs.  It can be found as concentrates added to water and heated slowly in simmer pots. The ingredient of potpourri includes essential oils and cationic detergents that can case ulcerations of the mouth, gum tissues, and/or esophagus. For more information, read about Potpourri Toxicity in Dogs.
  • Oral infections. Oral tissue can be traumatized and infected by burns or from trauma resulting chewing on sharp bones, sticks or other sharp objects. Another cause of oral tissue trauma is from bite wounds. Some dogs sustain bites in the mouth from fights with other animals.
  • Foreign material. Bone or hair can become caught in the mouth causing a foul odor. This is a common reason for fishy smelling breath.
  • Oral tumors.  Tumors in the mouth can become infected or parts of the tumor can begin to die which can lead to a foul odor.
  • Digestive problems.  Some dogs with stomach or digestive problems can have bad breath.  Dogs that vomit often have foul smelling breath.

Other Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

  • Lung cancer. Cancer of the throat, mouth, lungs, and nose can cause foul breath.
  • Respiratory infections. Various infections of the respiratory tract can cause foul smelling breath. It can be especially noticeable during exhalation or coughing.
  • Kidney disease. A decline in kidney function can cause some dog’s breath to have the odor of ammonia.
  • Diabetes. Another disease that can cause an abnormal oral odor is diabetes. A severe form of uncontrolled diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, can cause an abnormal sweet fruity odor.

How to Make Fishing Smelling Breath Go Away

The best way to make bad breath go way in your dog is to identify and treat the underlying problem that is causing the bad breath. You can sometimes identify the cause of your dog’s bad breath by the following:

  • Has your dog eaten anything abnormal such as compost? A dead animal carcass?  Got into the litter box? Trash?
  • Is your dog showing any signs of respiratory symptoms such as coughing or trouble breathing? Sneezing? Bloody nose?
  • Is your dog showing any signs of diabetes such as drinking more or urinating more?
  • Is your dog vomiting? Not eating? Losing weight?
  • Does your dog have signs of dental disease? Look in your dog’s mouth if you can do so safely. If you carefully lift up your dog’s lip, you can sometimes see red inflamed gums and tartar build-up on the teeth.  Many times the worst teeth and odor problems occur in the back of the mouth. If possible, look at the top teeth in the very back of the mouth for signs of redness, inflammation, and tartar build-up. In addition to bad breath, tartar build-up, redness, and/or swollen gums are all signs of problems.

If you notice any abnormalities in your dog, please see your veterinarian. Many of the dental problems can be very painful. If you don’t notice any problems but are still worried about your dog’s bad breath, make an appointment and allow your veterinarian to examine your dog and evaluate for possible underlying problems.

Products That Can Help Bad Breath in Dogs

There are many products on the market that can help bad breath in dogs.  The effectiveness largely depends on the underlying cause for bad breath. If your dog has a bad tooth or oral infection, no product will mask that smell without treating the infection or bad tooth.  Learn more about Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Bad Breath or  Tips to Cure Your Dog’s Bad Breath.

Additional Articles of Interest Relating to Dog Breath that Smells Like Fish:

My Dog’s Breath Stinks: What Are the Causes of Bad Breath?

A foul odor coming from a dog’s mouth is a reason pet owners inquire about dog bad breath causes. Below we will review the causes of bad breath in dogs and tips on how to make the bad breath go away.

First, let’s consider what causes bad breath in dogs? Bad breath is not a disease but is considered a “symptom.” Many pet owners are confused by the difference between a disease and a symptom. So, what is a symptom?

A symptom is defined as “a physical sign or physical sensation that is evidence a disease is present.” A symptom can be caused by many different underlying diseases. To help explain what a symptom is, here is an example of the symptom limping. Limping can be caused by a torn ligament, a thorn in the paw pad, a broken nail, or from a fractured bone. Like limping, bad breath has many different possible causes.

Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

Some pet owners notice that their dog’s breath smells like fish.  It’s more than just “doggie breath.” This foul and offensive odor can occur for multiple reasons that we will discuss below.

The medical term for bad breath is “halitosis.” Bad breath can be a warning sign of oral and dental diseases, respiratory infections, tumors of the oral or respiratory systems, digestion problems, as well as systemic diseases.

Causes of bad breath in dogs include:

  1. Oral and dental diseases. This may include gum disease, periodontal disease (disease of the tissues that surround the gums), tooth problems such as an abscess, oral ulcerations, oral infections, and/or bone or hair caught in the mouth.
  2. Oral tumors. These types of tumors can become infected as a part of the tumor begins to die. This can lead to a foul odor.
  3. Respiratory problems. Various diseases of the nose, sinus, trachea, and lungs can cause halitosis in dogs. For example, dogs with lung cancer, tumors of the nose, sinus infections, and/or respiratory infections such as pneumonia can cause bad breath.
  4. Systemic diseases. Diseases such as kidney failure or diabetes mellitus can cause bad breath.  A decline in kidney function can cause some dog’s breath to have the odor of ammonia. A severe form of uncontrolled diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, can cause an abnormal sweet fruity odor.
  5. Dietary indiscretion. Another cause for bad breath is some dog’s dietary indiscretion. Some dogs eat just about anything that may include other animal’s feces, garbage, compost, mulch, and dead animal carcass. Ingesting these foul things can definitely give your dog breath that smells like fish.
  6. Digestive or stomach issues. Some dogs with digestive issues can have bad breath.  Any problem that causes vomiting can also cause bad breath. Stomach ulcers, inflammatory gastrointestinal problems, or tumors involving the stomach or intestine can cause bad canine breath.

Some dog owners believe their dog’s breath has the foul odor of fish. Learn more details about possible causes of Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

Puppies can also have bad breath too. The causes of bad breath in puppies are often different from those of adult dogs. Adult dogs have had months or years to develop gum and tooth problems that can cause bad breath. Learn more about What Causes Bad Breath in Puppies?

How Do You Make the Bad Doggy Breath Go Away?

The best way to make bad dog breath go away is to see your veterinarian to identify the underlying cause of the bad odor and treat that cause. For example, if the cause is from gum disease or a bad tooth, then a dental cleaning is the best option to eliminate the bad breath. If the bad odor is from your dog eating trash, then minimize your dog’s exposure to trash by covering trash cans or preventing exposure in other ways such as by keeping your dog on a leash or in a fenced in yard.

There are products on the market that claim that they eliminate bad dog breath. Many are water supplements or treats. Over the years we have tested dozens of the products to find they don’t work or only mask the odor of the underlying medical problem for the short term.  There are some products that can help that I’ll share with you in these two articles- Here’s How to Cure Your Dog’s Bad Breath and Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Bad Breath.

Tips To Help Bad Dog Breath

If your dog does not have a significant medical problem causing bad breath, there are some simple things you can do that may help your dog’s’ bad breath. The following are four tips that can help bad doggy breath go away:

  1. Brush your dog’s’ teeth. Purchase a doggy toothbrush and some dog formulated and flavored toothpaste. Daily brushing can remove plaque which turns to tartar which causes a foul odor. Learn more about how to brush your dog’s teeth.  This is the best thing you can do to prevent bad breath and dental disease in your dog.
  2. Oravet dental hygiene chews.  These treats fight the source of bad breath as well as tartar and plaque. These are one the only dog treats that we have found that help with tartar and odors.
  3. Periodic dental cleanings. Allow your veterinarian to perform annual dental cleanings on your dog. This is the best way to keep your dog’s teeth and mouth healthy. February is “dental month” and often a great time to get special pricing for dental cleanings.
  4. Safe chew toys. Provide your dog with veterinary approved safe chew toys appropriately sized for your dog. Chew toys are a way to help a dog care for their teeth in a natural way. The act of chewing can prevent or eliminate plaque and tartar build-up.

We hope this article helps you learn a little more about the causes of bad breath in dogs.

Additional Articles of Interest Relating to Dog Bad Breath Causes:

Dog Dental Health – What You Need to Know

Your dog’s teeth represent a sophisticated food-chewing machine.

Open your adult canine’s mouth and take a look. You’ll find approximately 42 permanent teeth comprised of incisors for biting, canine teeth for tearing, premolars for grinding, and molars for rigorous chewing. Each type of tooth serves an essential function within your dog’s overall process of breaking down food.

Yet, without proper care, your dog’s teeth are destined to suffer from issues associated with oral disease. As with any piece of machinery, regular maintenance is necessary to ensure continued operation at a peak level.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs show oral disease by age 3, making it one of the most common conditions afflicting our canine companions. The buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth causes more than just bad breath – it can also serve as a catalyst of dental conditions and diseases affecting organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.

How can you keep your dog’s mouth and teeth healthy in the face of this startling statistic? Here’s what you need to know about dog dental health.

Healthy Teeth Make a Healthy Pet

White, healthy teeth help form the foundation for any canine’s overall strong bill of health. But similar to with humans, dogs’ teeth are prone to plaque buildup. When allowed to combine with saliva and residual food between the tooth and gum, plaque turns to tartar. If plaque and tartar are not removed routinely by your veterinarian, they may cause periodontal disease.

The most common disease afflicting small animals, periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the mouth. Its stages of severity progress from plaque and mildly inflamed gums to established gingivitis (gum disease) and, ultimately, the onset of full-fledge periodontal disease, which can result in tooth loss.

Preventive dental care represents one of the most neglected pet health needs. Periodontal disease is painful, and it’s up to us to take responsibility for our dogs’ care. If you think your dog may have periodontal disease, schedule an appointment to have your veterinarian perform an oral exam.

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Dental Disease

While you may not have a veterinary degree, your sensory perceptions can provide a strong indication of whether your canine is suffering from periodontal disease. Halitosis – or bad breath – is the most common sign of oral disease, and buildup of yellow and brown tarter on the tooth surface serves as the most obvious visual clue.

Other signs of canine periodontal disease include:

  • Loose teeth
  • Gingivitis
  • Drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pawing at the mouth

As a dog owner, you should monitor your canine for potential dental conditions. However, it’s also important to realize that some periodontal disease may not be visible to even the most experienced observer. Consequently, a complete periodontal examination – including dental X-rays – may be necessary to uncover all types of oral disease.

Keeping Your Dog’s Teeth Healthy

Like daily walks for exercise, proper dental care should be a regular part of your program for keeping your canine healthy and happy. It’s often overlooked, but pets can suffer the same kinds of dental problems as humans, including severe pain, infection, and tooth loss. You can help prevent and treat issues associated with periodontal disease by working closely with your veterinarian.

Dogs should have dental exams every 6-12 months, depending on age. During a dental exam, a veterinarian will examine your dog’s teeth and gums in much the same way that a dentist looks at yours. The examination will include a visual and manual inspection to check for signs of gum disease, tooth discoloration, loose teeth, and indications of sensitivity or pain.

Your veterinarian will clean your dog’s teeth if there is a buildup of tartar or plaque. This can be done ultrasonically just as it’s done for humans. Your vet will probably recommend removing loose teeth and advise either removal or a root canal procedure if there’s tooth decay. Depending on the nature of the procedure, your dog may need to be immobilized using anesthetics.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Tooth brushing is the single most important part of oral care and cannot be overemphasized. If your dog will allow it, you should brush his teeth daily. However, many veterinarians recognize that this frequency is unrealistic and believe several weekly brushings will suffice.

Healthier Smile: 5 Ways to Improve Your Pet’s Dental Health

Confession time: How often do you concern yourself with your pet’s pearly whites?

If you’re like most dog and cat owners, the answer is infrequently, if at all. In fact, by some estimates only 1 percent of pet owners brush their dog or cat’s teeth with any degree of regularity.

This stunning statistic is not meant to serve as an indictment of dental-neglecting pet owners, but rather illustrate that we’re all in this together. We lead busy lives and struggle to find time to consistently floss our own teeth, much less examine the 42 permanent teeth you’ll typically find within a canine’s mouth.

Since February serves as National Pet Dental Health Month, the time is right to bring this issue to the forefront. Pet dental disease is no joke. Not only can excess buildup of plaque and tartar below the gum line cause your dog or cat pain, but it can also lead to serious problems like tooth decay and loss.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3. It’s the most common health problem treated in small animal clinics today, yet an ounce of prevention by pet owners would go a long way towards reducing these figures.

In many respects, your dog or cat’s teeth are every bit as important to his health and well-being as your own incisors, canines, and molars are to yours. As is the case with humans, your pet’s teeth are vitally important for food consumption, proper hygiene, and overall strong health.

At the risk of sounding like a scolding dentist, let’s get to the teeth of the matter: We need to stop overlooking this key component of pet care. Here are five ways you can succeed at improving your dog or cat’s dental health. By employing these techniques, you can be assured the doggy and kitty kisses you receive will be all the more enjoyable.

 

1. Periodic Dental Examinations

No one likes going to the dentist – not even your dog or cat. Yet veterinary dental exams are important to maintaining your pet’s oral health. In most cases your vet can examine your pet’s teeth in the exam room – without the need for anesthesia – provided your cat or dog proves cooperative and lacks severe dental problems. The frequency of professional cleanings your dog or cat needs depends on his age and the health status of his teeth. Whereas a young pet with healthy teeth may only require a vet dental visit once each year (or even once every several years for some felines), a senior pet demonstrating dental disease may need professional care every six months.

2. Dental-Friendly Pet Foods

From the standpoint of your veterinary dentist, not all pet foods are created equal. In general, dry foods are more orally-friendly than wet foods, as the latter tends to stick to dogs and cats’ mouths, inviting the accumulation of plaque that can cause dental disease. But some foods can help clean your pets’ teeth by scrubbing them while your cat or dog chews. Consult your vet, then seek a dental-friendly food for your pet. When in doubt, look for pet foods labeled as “accepted” by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).

3. Regular Brushing with Pet-Specific Products

In a perfect world, you would brush your pet’s teeth daily. Many veterinarians, however, recognize this frequency as being unrealistic and contend that several weekly brushings will suffice. And even an occasional brushing for your canine or feline is better than none at all. Have your vet assist with selecting a pet-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to ensure safety for your cat or dog. By establishing a consistent routine and rewarding your pet with treats, you can foster a level of cooperation and make the brushing process easier. Between brushes it’s worthwhile to wash your pet’s mouth with an oral rinse or wipe, which can freshen breath and reduce plaque. These products are the pet equivalent of mouthwash.

 

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4. Dental Cleaning Toys and Treats

Who knew pet toys and treats could offer so much value? The right dental-approved products will entertain your pet or provide a healthy snack – while also working teeth-cleaning magic. Your vet can advise you regarding which toys and treats are safe and useful for slowing the onslaught of dental disease in your cat or dog. Rubbery, bendable chew toys tend to perform well from a dental standpoint, as do vet-approved treats that gnaw away dental disease.

5. Pet Insurance

Anyone who’s ever had to pay a dental bill knows that adequate care for your teeth does not come cheap, and the same is true for cats and dogs. But a pet insurance plan that includes dental coverage can afford owners peace of mind. Many plans cover anesthetic teeth cleaning and dental illness treatment – without any deductible, co-pay, or waiting period. And you can start using it the day you sign up. It’s one way to ensure your best friend receives the best care.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Dental disease (especially periodontal disease) is the most common disease in our canine companions. It is also one of the most preventable and treatable diseases. Fortunately, we can reduce or even prevent dental disease by feeding a crunchy diet, appropriate chew treats and toys and daily tooth brushing. The following are steps to guide you on how to brush your dog’s teeth:

  • The first step is to start with a clean, healthy mouth. Good dental hygiene should start with a young pet with healthy new teeth and gums, or after your pet has had a professional dental cleaning.
  • You will need a soft-bristled tooth brush and veterinary toothpaste. Human toothpastes and baking soda may cause problems. Furthermore, veterinary toothpastes have flavors that are appealing to dogs. Anything other than a bristled tooth brush will not get below the gum line, which is the most important area to brush.
  • There are several important facts about our pets’ mouths that tell us when, where and how to brush. Periodontal disease usually affects the upper, back teeth first and worst. Plaque builds up on the tooth surface daily, especially just under the gum line. It takes less than 36 hours for this plaque to become mineralized and harden into “tartar” (calculus) that cannot be removed with a brush. Because of this progression, brushing should be done daily, with a brush to remove the plaque from under the gum line.
  • Pick a time of day that will become a convenient part of your pet’s daily routine. Just before a walk or before a daily treat can help your pet actually look forward to brushing time. Take a few days to let both of you get use to the process. Follow with praise and a walk or treat each time.
  • Start by offering your dog a taste of the veterinary toothpaste. The next time, let him taste the toothpaste, then run your finger along the gums of the upper teeth. Repeat the process with the tooth brush. Get the bristles of the brush along the gum line of the upper back teeth and angle slightly up, so the bristles get under the gum line. Work from back to front, making small circles along the gum lines. It should take you less than 30 seconds to brush your pet’s teeth. Do not try to brush the entire mouth at first. If all that your pet lets you brush is the outside of the upper teeth, you are still addressing the most important area of periodontal disease – prevention. If your pet eventually allows you to brush most of his teeth, so much the better.
  • Even with the best tooth brushing, some dogs may still need an occasional professional cleaning, just like humans. By brushing your pet’s teeth daily and curtailing the amount of periodontal disease, you may reduce the frequency and involvement of dental cleanings and provide your pet with a healthier, sweeter smile.
  • Cat Dental Health – What You Need to Know

    If you’re like many cat owners, you strive to maintain your feline’s health and well-being. Yet one of the most overlooked problem areas is literally right under your cat’s nose.

    For many species, healthy teeth represent a sign of strong overall health, and your cat is no exception. Unfortunately, though, many felines are lacking when it comes to proper dental care and oral health.

    According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 70 percent of cats show oral disease by age 3, and it’s the most common health problem treated in small animal clinics today. The buildup of bacteria in your cat’s mouth may cause more than just bad breath – it can also serve as a catalyst of dental conditions and diseases affecting organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.

    While your cat likely dreads going to the dentist as much as you do, it’s important to monitor and maintain your feline’s oral well-being.

    Healthy Teeth Make a Healthy Cat

    Pristine teeth often symbolize good health. But just like humans, cats’ teeth are prone to plaque buildup. When this plaque combines with saliva and residual food between teeth and gums, tartar is formed.

    If plaque and tartar are not removed routinely by your veterinarian, they may cause periodontal disease. Often referred to as gingivitis in its early stages, periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar below the gum line. This painful and progressive gum disease causes inflammation and can ultimately lead to tooth loss.

    The most common signs of periodontal disease include:

    • Bad breath
    • Loose teeth
    • Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
    • Yellow and brown tartar buildup
    • Drooling
    • Lack of appetite
    • Bleeding gums
    • Pawing at the mouth

    Veterinary Care for Your Cat’s Teeth

    Fortunately, veterinary dental knowledge has grown exponentially in the last few years. Dental technology has also exploded, allowing your pet virtually all of the dental care that you receive, including: Dental implants, braces (to enable a comfortable bite), root canals, and tooth bonding.

    Veterinary care should include periodic dental exams, which are important in order to maintain good oral health. The frequency with which dental examinations should be performed typically ranges from 6-12 months, depending on your cat’s age.

    Your veterinarian can examine your cat’s teeth in the exam room if your pet is cooperative and does not have severe dental problems. Otherwise, use of anesthesia may be necessary. Full mouth X-rays are usually required because 70 percent of the tooth structure is beneath the gum line and thus is invisible to the naked eye.

    How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth

    In addition to receiving regular dental checkups, your feline’s oral health should be supplemented by homecare. Cat owners can reduce or even prevent dental disease by feeding a crunchy diet and administering daily tooth brushing.

    Here are guidelines to follow for brushing your cat’s teeth:

    • Brushing should be done daily, with a brush designed to remove plaque from under the gum line.
    • Pick a time of day that will become a convenient part of your and your cat’s daily routine. Brushing before receipt of a treat can help your feline actually look forward to brushing time.
    • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste.
    • Start by offering your cat a taste of the veterinary toothpaste. Then, next time, have him taste the toothpaste, running your finger along the gums of his upper teeth. Repeat the process with a toothbrush until your cat develops a comfort level.

    Even with effective toothbrushing, some cats may still need an occasional professional cleaning, just like humans. But by brushing your cat’s teeth daily, you can furnish him with a healthier smile.

    Fractured Teeth in Cats

    In cats, tooth fracture can be related to various incidents, including being hit by a car, falling from a high place, facial trauma from an animal attack, or as a result of a fractured jaw. A fractured tooth can occur below the gum line, vertically or horizontally in the tooth. The level (locations or depth) at which the root is fractured helps determine if the tooth can be saved.

    Fractured teeth are painful – even if your cat doesn’t show much pain – and should be treated as an emergency. Veterinary care includes diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations, including a strategy for minimizing the risk of infection.

    Although it’s impossible to eliminate the threat of tooth trauma for your cat altogether, you should practice preventative measures. Consider keeping your cat indoors, ensure all open windows are securely screened, and monitor your cat during aggressive or interactive play.

    How to Care for Your Dog’s Teeth

    According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs show oral disease by age 3, and it is the most common health problem treated in small animal health clinics today. The buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth may cause more than just bad breath; according to research presented at a recent conference on Companion Animal Oral Health, bacteria are also the cause of oral disease and diseases in other organs of the body like the heart, liver and kidneys.

    Just like humans, dogs teeth are prone to plaque buildup, and when allowed to combine with saliva and residual food between the tooth and gum, plaque turns to tartar. If plaque and tartar are not removed routinely by your veterinarian, they may cause periodontal disease.

  • Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums most commonly caused by the accumulation of food particles in the crevices between the gums and the teeth. The main symptom is bleeding, although you may also notice redness, pain and difficulty chewing. If gingivitis is not treated, it may lead to periodontitis.
  • Periodontitis is a serious infection that spreads to the tissues and bone in which the teeth are rooted causing loss of the teeth. Unfortunately, this disease is irreversible and may lead to other problems.
  • Broken teeth are a common problem, most commonly caused by aggressive chewing on hard objects.
  • What to Look For

    The most common signs of oral disease are:

  • Yellow and brown tartar buildup
  • Bleeding
  • Bad breath
  • Red inflamed gums
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Change in eating habits
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Veterinary Care

    Fortunately, veterinary dental knowledge has grown exponentially in the last few years. Dental technology has also exploded, allowing your pet virtually all of the dental care that you receive, including: dental implants, braces (to enable a comfortable bite), ultrasonic scaling controlled with microchips, root canals and bonding and brightening.

    Veterinary care should include periodic dental exams, which are important in order to maintain good oral health. The frequency with which dental examinations should be performed depends on your pet’s age.

  • Puppies. The mouth should be examined by your veterinarian immediately upon acquiring your new pet and at every vaccination appointment up to four months of age. A dental exam should be performed again at six months of age. It is important to assess your pet’s bite as well as his/her overall oral health. Bite abnormalities can sometimes be corrected by orthodontics before six months of age.
  • One to three years. At this age, unless you notice problems or your veterinarian has developed a custom exam program due to special circumstances, dental exams should be done annually.
  • Four to six years. If your pet has perfect teeth and you brush them daily, annual exams may suffice, but many dogs in this age range require exams every six months. It is better to have more frequent examinations done and get a clean report card as opposed to finding potentially painful problems later. Toothaches are painful for animals, just like humans, but your pet won’t be able to tell you that it hurts.
  • Seven years and up. Dental examinations should be performed every six months when your pet is seven years of age or older.
  • The Dental Exam

  • Your veterinarian can examine your dog’s teeth in the exam room if your pet is cooperative and does not have severe dental problems.
  • Full mouth X-rays are usually required because 70 percent of the tooth structure is beneath the gum line and thus is invisible to the naked eye.
  • Your veterinarian may use a periodontal probe (a blunt probe that is used to check the gum/tooth interface) to search for gum pockets and other problems. He may use it sparingly in cooperative patients; however, a thorough exam may require sedation or anesthesia. He will examine all soft tissues.
  • If anesthesia is required, new injectable anesthetics are available which are short-acting (a few minutes), and relatively safe. Additionally, new anesthetic monitors are available to help ensure that the anesthesia is as safe as possible.
  • Home Care

    Your dog needs preventive dental care just like you. AVDS recommends using a three-part dental care regimen to include:

  • Routine physical exams by your veterinarian
  • Regular dental care at home: Tooth brushing is the single most important part of oral care and cannot be over-emphasized. If your pet will allow it, you should brush her teeth daily. It is best to start early since most dogs will allow brushing if you start when they are puppies. Use a special toothpaste formulated for your pet; human toothpaste may upset your dog’s stomach.
  • Regular follow-up care: You can ask about specially formulated foods, such as pet foods that have been developed to enhance oral care by their abrasive action. Scientific studies have proven that these special diets are beneficial in maintaining oral health.

    There are also numerous chew products available that may be helpful. Use common sense and caution when choosing these products; (ask your veterinarian for help). It is usually best to stay with softer products.

  • How to Tell if Your Cat Has Dental Disease

    Dental disease, specifically periodontal disease, is the most common ailment affecting cats and dogs. The amount and severity of dental disease in our pets can be very surprising. The recognition and treatment of dental disease is all-to-often overlooked by veterinarians and pet owners alike. Most veterinary schools have yet to recognize the importance teaching about oral health in the education of veterinarians and technicians. It may require the combined efforts of pet owners and enlightened veterinarians to recognize the signs of dental disease in our pets.

    Halitosis, or bad breath, is the most common sign of oral disease. Classic “cat breath” is not necessarily normal. The major cause of halitosis is periodontal disease. This is an infection of the gums and potentially the other supporting structures of the teeth. Plaque builds up every day on the tooth surface including at the gum line. Left in place, the plaque can mineralize, or harden, in less than 2 days, forming calculus or tartar. The tartar will stick to the tooth surface forming a scaffold for more plaque accumulation. The continued build-up of tartar both above and below the gum line can eventually produce an environment that is a haven for certain types of bacteria that may be more destructive to the periodontal tissues and also produce a more noticeable odor.

    The most obvious visual clue to dental disease is the build up of the tartar on the tooth surface. A much more subtle clue to dental disease is the change in the normal gum lines. Every tooth has a bulge just where the normal, healthy gum meets the tooth. This bulge is normally not a straight line for most teeth. This means that we should see a slight wave of gums along the outside of normal, healthy teeth. If the gums are straight along the tooth, either gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, or gingival recession, or loss of the normal gum height, is present.

    Gingivitis is reversible, as the inflammation will go away once the cause of the inflammation is addressed. Plaque along the gum line is easily the most common cause of gingivitis. Once the gingiva, or gums, begin to be lost, periodontal disease is present. As in humans, gingival recession is permanent. With gum loss, comes exposure of the root surface of the tooth. The root surface is rougher than the crown of the tooth and is therefore more likely to attract plaque.

    In cats, however, gum loss has even more serious repercussions than in humans. The area between the roots of teeth with more than one root is called the furcation. The furcation is much closer to the normal gum line in the teeth of cats. A seemingly small amount of gum loss can cause exposure of the root surface and perhaps even this furcation area, providing even more surface for plaque and tartar on which to adhere. Fortunately, cats do not get true caries. Visualization of the actual bulge or even the exposed furcation area of a tooth is evidence of fairly significant periodontal disease. As more of the gums and bone supporting the teeth are lost, the more likely loss of teeth. Noting one of the more severe signs of dental disease, loosening of the teeth, may also be tricky unless one knows to look for it.

    There are other signs of dental disease in your pet that may be more subtle. Cats may preferentially choose softer foods, play with chew toys less and decline crunchy treats. You may notice your pet chewing more on side of his mouth. He may chew less in general and this sometimes causes the cat to vomit, seen as undigested, poorly chewed food. Increased salivation, pawing at or rubbing the face can be indications of oral pain.

    It is important to realize that some periodontal disease may not be visible to even the most experienced observer. Sometimes, the bone around the teeth is lost faster than, or even without, gum loss. Not all periodontal disease can be appreciated without a complete periodontal examination, including dental radiographs. This step requires pets to be under anesthesia. Therefore, a more complete evaluation of oral health by both pet owners and veterinarians becomes much more important before or between dental procedures, in which our pets are anesthetized, so that we can help them maintain good dental health and treat dental disease before it becomes severe.