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Doggie Breath Tips, from Will Draper, DVM

03/10/2011

  • Will Draper, DVM:

    OK,here's a question from the message board. "My dog’s breath can stop a truck!" That's an easy one. What do you think that means, Kensie? Your breath actually smells pretty good.

  • Merry Morrow:

    No. We've been there. (Laughter) We've been there before. I'd like to know what it means, too.

  • Will:

    So what do you think it means? 

    Most of the time it is a sign of dental disease. Dog’s teeth are made of the same things ours are: it's dentin, enamel. And they eat food every day. So ideally, our dog’s teeth should be brushed everyday. Are we brushing teeth for Fenway right now? 

  • Steven Belew:

    Yep, not every day, though… maybe once a week if she's lucky.

  • Will:

    And that’s great if you're doing it once a week. That’s better than most people do. But if you don’t start them pretty early, as you know, it’s a difficult thing for them to get used to.

    And it's important to know that dogs can't use the same toothpaste we use. There are certain things in toothpaste, like hydrogen peroxide, that will actually make them ill or cause them to vomit. So make sure it's veterinary toothpaste.

    What a lot of people do is just go to their vet and have their dog’s teeth cleaned every couple of years. Has anybody ever had their dog’s teeth cleaned?

  • Merry:

    I did it once.

  • Will:

    You've done that before. So you know it’s the same thing we have done. We have scaling and polishing. But most of the time -- almost all of the time -- we have to sedate dogs to have their teeth cleaned, because they're not going to sit there and just let you do it.

  • Suzanne Anderson:

    I always worry about my dogs, if they're going to wake up or not.

  • Will:

    Fortunately, anesthetic problems are very, very rare these days, because of the types of anesthesia used and the protocols you can take to monitor them. You know, most vets do some pre-anesthetic blood work to rule out kidney problems or liver problems; the organs that filter your anesthesia through your body. If there's a problem with that, then your pet might not be a good anesthetic candidate and that's how you find those things out.

    Even, in the case with Kensie, there's some truth that old dogs need to be monitored more. But old age is not a disease, so you need to still get them proper medical care.

    Now sometimes bad breath can be a sign of a medical issue. And one of the big ones you'll see is a lot of times dogs that have kidney disease will have a very bad smelling breath. So you have to know … it’s not just safe to assume that there's some kind of a dental issue. Sometimes it could be something medical, like kidney disease. 

    Sometimes, they'll get a foreign body lodged in their mouth and you won't know it’s there. But it gets infected, and starts to smell, and your vet may have to help you determine that. So bad breath is usually a sign that you need to see your vet. So that’s generally what I would recommend.

Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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