Phew! You sure smell funky! When your dog gives you a slobbering kiss and you push him away because his breath is bad, he may be suffering from more than just bad doggy breath;
he could have a serious dental disease. I mean, you don't ignore your own bad breath, right? I hope not. So, you shouldn't ignore your best friend's halitosis either, your best friend being your dog, of course.
Veterinarians agree that when dogs get really bad breath, it's usually an indication of a serious periodontal disease. “If you don’t want your dog to kiss you (everyone should like doggy kisses) than it is probably more serious than gingivitis. Your dog needs a trip to the vet." says Dr. Brook Niemiec, DVM.
For years people didn’t pay much attention to their dog’s teeth—until there was a problem. Even now a lot of major vet schools don’t teach dentistry, though scientists have discovered links between gum disease and more serious health issues, especially with heart, liver, and kidney function.
Don't Ignore Your Dog's Bad Breath
If your dog's breath is bad enough to chase away your kisses, don't ignore it because by the time a problem manifests itself, a disease is probably in an advanced state. Obviously dogs don’t know how to tell us that their mouths hurt or that they don’t feel good, so unless you are on top of it, it may be too late.
Veterinarians recommend you start taking care of your dog’s teeth early and frequently to prevent trouble later on. Dr. Niemiec encourages dog owners to get their dog's teeth examined by a professional starting on his first birthday. “Believe me, in some small breeds, as many as 90 percent will have some level of early gum disease by one year old,” Dr. Niemiec says.
Do-it-Yourself Doggy Dental Checks
With a little know-how, you can check your pup’s mouth yourself - as often as you'd like. For instance, lift his lips and look for redness on the gums, a sign of gingivitis.
“Check your dog’s mouth weekly, and if you see signs of redness or a broken tooth or swelling, it is time to take him to a vet,” he says. “What we do so often is wait for signs that disease is there rather than preventing it from happening in the first place.”That means that not only is your dog going to suffer more, but the treatment will likely be more complex and expensive.
Preventing Doggy Gum Disease
This is something you and your dog have in common, it comes down to good daily care and stopping plaque from building-up. “The ideal way is with daily brushing. But if you really are not going to do that, there are a lot of chew treats out there like Greenies that actually help prevent gum disease. But check the package for the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval,” says Niemiec.
It only takes a couple of minutes a day to brush a dog’s teeth and because plaque builds-up in 24 hours it is important that teeth are cleaned daily. It might sound like a pain in the tush, but better that, than a pain in the tooth.
Most veterinarians recommend starting the habit of brushing your dog's teeth while he's still a puppy, not just to prevent disease from occurring but to get the pet used to the feeling of having its teeth brushed. Even before the adult teeth come in, at six months, he suggests familiarizing dogs with the sensation of having your fingers in their mouths and their teeth brushed.
Think about taking care of your dog's teeth like changing the oil in your car. If you do it regularly, you are not going to have bigger and more expensive problems down the line and hopefully you're going to have your dog a lot longer than most people drive the same car.