Is “dog breath” normal?

dog-dental-e1385759625650Is “dog breath” normal?

It often surprises pet owners that their pets need to have their teeth cared for and that their dog’s breath isn’t normal.  Brushing their pet’s teeth seems so foreign and many people never consider it.  As our pets age, their teeth build up tartar.  For humans it is recommended that we go to the dentist every 6 months to have our teeth cleaned and evaluated.  In our practice we examine your pet’s mouth each time they come in for an exam, so we can stay ahead of any potential problems.  On average, pets over the age of 3 need to have their teeth cleaned on an annual basis, with some needing it every 6 months.

Periodontal disease can be seen in pets as young as 9 months of age, so it is important to have your pet evaluated yearly.  The question is often asked of why some pets would develop dental problems at an early age and others seem to have perfectly healthy teeth.  Small breed dogs are more prone to developing early dental disease than their large breed counterparts.  Small mouths are often overcrowded.  Overcrowded teeth tend to entrap bacteria and debris, which form tartar and cause structural damage to the mouth.  This also happens with large breed dogs, just not typically as early as is seen in smaller breeds.  Diet also plays a part in tartar build up.  Pets that are fed dry foods tend to have healthier teeth.  Chewing habits are also a contributing factor in dental health.   Chewing is a natural and good thing for dogs to do, but excessive chewing and chewing on improper things can cause damage.  Anything that is harder than the tooth itself can cause fractures in the tooth’s surface.   This includes ice cubes, rocks, bones, and even nylabones.  Tennis balls are also harmful.  The rough surface can wear away the enamel and cause serious damage.

Periodontal Disease

The frightening part of periodontal disease is that it doesn’t just affect the mouth.  The bacteria can be introduced into the blood stream when your pet chews.  It can then travel to the heart and kidneys where it can cause damage and disease.

Don’t discount your pet’s “dog breath”, there could be disease lurking in those gums.  To combat periodontal disease, we recommend brushing your pet’s teeth daily with a toothbrush and pet approved toothpaste.  You can also help by providing your pet with appropriate chew toys and treats.  C.E.T. is a brand that we recommend using.  They produce a version of “raw hide” that is permeated with enzymes that deter tartar build up.  They are digestible, which, if swallowed, keeps them from causing a blockage.  We also have flavored toothpastes and oral rinses with these same enzymes.  There are also foods that are formulated to fight tartar build up.  Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d has a “squeegee” effect on the tooth when a kibble is bitten into.  Hill’s has also added some of their dental technology to their Healthy Advantage line.

Be aware of your pet’s dental health, let us know if you are smelling something “stinky” from that sweet little face.  It’s probably more than dog breath that you are smelling.


Written By: Joanie Cothran, LVT