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How to Control Bad Breath in Pets: Tips & Tricks

How to Control Bad Breath in Pets
What’s the Best Way to Treat Bad Breath in Pets?

1. Brush your pet’s teeth daily. Brushing is the best way to keep your pet’s mouth free from bacterial buildup and help control bad breath.
2. Give your pet  safe chew toys to gnaw on. The natural process of chewing will help clean your dog’s teeth.  
3. Make sure your pet is on a healthy diet. There is one diet, Hill's T/D, that is formulated to help reduce tartar.
4. Schedule regular dental cleanings with your veterinarian. Be sure your pet has his teeth cleaned at least once every year.  Anesthesia is required to do a good job of evaluating the entire tooth, and dental x-rays are needed to evaluate the tooth roots and surrounding bone.

There’s nothing fun about getting a slobbery wet kiss from a dog or a cat with bad breath! Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is generally caused by excessive build-up of odor -producing bacteria inside your pet’s mouth, lungs, or even gut. While most cases of bad breath can be traced back to poor oral hygiene, in some cases, bad breath could be symptomatic of a more serious health problem.

Treating bad breath starts by identifying the cause and taking steps to correct the underlying problem. Other than dental disease, causes of bad breath are oral tumors, tonsillitis, or foreign material in the mouth or voice box area.  Even systemic diseases like kidney disease and diabetes can cause a change in the odor of the breath.

However, bad breath in dogs and cats is most commonly linked to the build up of bacteria in the mouth due to poor oral hygiene. In fact, bad breath is the most common warning sign of  dental disease. Periodontal disease starts out as plaque. Plaque is a biofilm that contains bacteria which causes gingivitis. Over time, plaque hardens, forming a substance known as tartar. Plaque and tartar lead to swollen, inflamed gums, along with bad breath.

Abscessed teeth are also common in dogs. These can result from bad periodontal disease, or from a fractured or worn tooth that allows bacteria to move up the canal in the middle of the tooth to the tip where it causes an abscess to form. These abscesses can also cause bad breath.

The best cure for bad breath is to prevent it before it happens. In order to best keep your pet’s breath under control, schedule a yearly dental check-up with your pet’s veterinarian. Veterinary organizations recommend annual dental exams and cleanings for pets. 

Additionally, veterinary dentists recommend that pet owners brush their pet’s teeth on a daily basis. Brushing teeth is the best way to cut back on tartar buildup and help control bad breath.

Finally, give your pets access to safe chew toys. Chew toys not only help reduce your pet’s stress level and eliminate boredom, but these toys can help to reduce tartar buildup. Be sure to use a chew toy approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Chew toys that are too soft are a danger because pieces may be swallowed causing an obstruction. Chew toys that are too hard, such as nylon, bones, and antlers break teeth. Rope toys can cause threads to get caught between the teeth.
 
Source:

American Animal Hospital Association, “AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.” 2014.

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Testimonial

Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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