Some of us love getting wet slobbery kisses or gentle prickly ones from our family pets! What we don’t like is their 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 buildup 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 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 dental check-up with your pet’s veterinarian. Veterinary organizations recommend annual dental exams and cleanings for pets. Brushing teeth is the best way to cut back on tartar buildup and help control bad breath. Finally, give your pet’s 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 can break teeth. Rope toys can cause threads to get caught between the teeth.
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.
If you have noticed your pet has bad breath, is chewing on one side, or it has just been a while since they had a good dental checkup, give us a call! Doc Talk Our doctors at Pacific Animal Hospital can thoroughly assess your pet’s teeth and gums. We will create a treatment plan for you and your pet to ensure they maintain good oral health all year long!
National Pet Dental Health Month is here! However, we all know that caring for our pet’s teeth shouldn’t just be recognized in the month of February. You must be aware of dental care every day, every month. Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some kind of oral disease by the age of 3? When your canine companion or feline friend has red gums, yellow teeth and stinky breath, it could be a sign of serious oral disease that could, if left untreated, lead to devastating affects on your pet’s quality of life. Proper dental care can detect dental disease that not only affects the mouth, but can also lead to more serious health problems such as the heart, lung and kidney disease. Bacteria in an pet’s mouth can get into the bloodstream and reach different organs, causing infections. Good dental hygiene is just as important for pets as it is for humans. With regular oral health maintenance and check-ups, most of these problems can be avoided.
Between regular veterinary examinations, pet owners should look for warning signs of gum disease such as bad breath, red and swollen gums, yellow-brown crusts of tartar along the gum lines, and if very severe, bleeding or pain when the gums or mouth are touched. Prevention is always the best medicine. One way you can take a proactive role in preventing oral disease in your pet is by using an important tool that many pet owners neglect to purchase for their companions: a toothbrush. A soft bristled toothbrush should be used to clean your pet’s teeth daily to remove any food particles and prevent the buildup of tarter and plaque deposits. Make sure to only use toothpaste that is specifically formulated for use on pets. Start “wiping” your puppy or kittens teeth with a soft cloth so that as they get older, they will be ready for the recommended toothpaste by your veterinarian. They will get used to you touching their mouth and teeth. Also, start to add healthy foods and treats. Some pet foods are now formulated to combat plaque and tartar build-up and have been proven to be a healthy effective oral health tool. Talk to your veterinarian and ask what would be best for your pet.
Signs of Dental Disease:
Early: bad breath, red, inflamed gum line, tartar
Early dental disease is still reversible with a professional dental cleaning. This is the best time to have your pet’s teeth cleaned, before the disease progresses.
Moderate: in addition to the above signs, you may see heavy tartar, discolored teeth, pain. When x-rays are taken, often there is bone loss and this is irreversible, however steps can be taken to prevent further progression.
Severe: in addition to the above signs, there may be loose or lost teeth, bleeding from the gums, drooling or dropping food from the mouth, pawing at face or mouth, facial swelling, very painful when mouth is touched. This pet needs emergency dental care.
Three Simple Steps to Dental Care:
Take your pet to get a dental exam: Your pet should have a routine veterinarian examination, every six months.
Start an at-home regimen: Ask your veterinarian to suggest nutritional supplements and a regular teeth brushing schedule. Your veterinarian will be more than happy to have staff show you how to properly brush your pet’s teeth. Not every client or patient is a candidate for tooth brushing. There are alternative methods of plaque control and removal. Your Dr. will work with you to determine which would be the best option for you and your pet! There are also some great oral hygiene dental chews that your pet will enjoy as a snack as well as dental rinses and water additives.
Schedule dental cleanings: Take your pet in for teeth cleanings.
As an AAHA-accredited hospital, Pacific Animal Hospital provides professional veterinary dental cleaning all year round. Your pet’s dental health is just as important as your own. Learn about your pet’s dental health grade and see what healthy teeth and gums look like! blog/2013/02/what-is-your-pets-dental-grade/ Keep in mind, pets can’t brush their teeth and floss like we do. Since our pets can’t communicate their feelings to us (still crossing my fingers!), regular exams are very important to catch problems early.