Tricounty News

Dog breath

Ever wonder why our poor dogs are what we use to compare someone's foul-smelling breath? Pretty much everyone agrees that puppy breath is pleasant, then at some undefined point, things go awry and having our dogs breathe in our faces is no longer welcome. The reason for this is the most common disease we see in our pets next to obesity, which is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease causes foul-smelling breath in pets by the same mechanism it does in humans: odor-causing bacteria set up shop around the base of teeth, and they proliferate along with mineral deposits to form the heavy calculus we see on our pets' teeth. This bacteria/mineral deposit irritates the gums causing gingivitis. Over time, they erode the gums back and deteriorate the periodontal ligament which holds the tooth solidly in its socket until the tooth becomes overly exposed and loose. During this time it creates a bad odor because of the bacteria itself and tissue deterioration. Can you imagine smelling rotting tissue coming from your own mouth 24/7? February is National Dental Health month for pets, and there are several things we as pet owners can do both to prevent this situation from happening, and correcting it if it already has. We can brush our pets' teeth-definitely not something for the faint-of-heart, but you can't argue with the results ... humans tend to brush twice daily and we don't have the severity of this condition that our pets have. If pet temperament or human ambition does not permit, there are disinfectant-impregnated chew toys that will kill some of the bacteria that are at the core of the problem. This same disinfectant can be found in a pet drinking-water additive. Special diets with nuggets formulated to hold their shape and scrape up the teeth as they are bitten are available, and do a good job of keeping the plaque down. When periodontal disease is detected on your pet's physical exam, we may recommend a dental cleaning, just as we get at the dentist, except our pets get the luxury of anesthesia. We will get the teeth as clean as possible and polish them. We can also apply a sealant-type product to slow the re-accumulation of plaque following the procedure. If infected or loose teeth are found, they can be extracted so the infection can resolve and a potential source of pain will be alleviated. If your dog's breath lives up to its name, consider the description of what is causing it, and think about scheduling a dental exam for your pet so we can treat this condition before it progresses to the point of painful and infected teeth. E-mail your animal questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .