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How to Make a Dog's Breath Fresh

Updated on December 31, 2013

How to look after your dog's teeth

My Yorkie Gonzo does not enjoy his visits to vet for health check ups. Here he is in combat gear ready to take the world on.
My Yorkie Gonzo does not enjoy his visits to vet for health check ups. Here he is in combat gear ready to take the world on. | Source

Tartar build up

Tartar build up in a dog's mouth can lead to gum disease
Tartar build up in a dog's mouth can lead to gum disease | Source

Fresh breath happy healthy dog

Many dog owners struggle to ensure that their dogs’ breath smell fresh.

This is particularly true when it comes to smaller dogs as they might be more reluctant to eat dry dog food. A good quality dry dog biscuit helps to prevent tartar build up on your dogs teeth.

I have a little Yorkshire terrier, and I have noticed he has a tendency to suffer problems with his breath even though he does eat a good quality dry biscuit.

Bad breath (halitosis) is a build up of odor causing bacteria in a dog’s mouth and is very common. Unlike us dogs do not brush their teeth twice every day, nor do they floss.

It is always a good idea to pay attention to your dog’s breath, as bad breath can be indication of a health problem.

Canine bad breath

More often than not canine bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth which has caused dental or gum disease. Dogs experience tartar and plaque build up as well, and it is important to look after your dog’s mouth for better overall health.

There are however other times when your dog’s bad breath can be an indication of something else, and it could be a problem which require urgent veterinary attention.

Sweet or fruity breath for instance can mean your canine friend is suffering from diabetes. If you think your dog urinates more frequently ,and drinks excessive amount of water, you should smell his or her breath. If it smells sweet or fruity it could mean you dog has diabetes which needs intervention. Canine diabetes is now successfully treated, and help is available from your veterinary clinic.

If your dog’s breath smells like urine (acidic), it could mean there is a problem with your dog’s kidneys. Poor quality dog food can affect the kidneys so make sure you buy a good quality dog food.

An unusually bad breath can indicate liver disease, or problems in the gut. This is often accompanied by vomiting, poor appetite and in liver disease yellow corneas or gums.

How is bad breath treated?

If plaque is the problem your veterinarian will recommend your dog’s teeth to be cleaned properly. This would require your dog to be sedated whilst the vet completes a clean and examination of the mouth. Sometimes teeth need to be extracted, and a good examination also gives the vet a chance to investigate if there are any other problems in the mouth such as unwanted growths.

When bad breath is caused by the wrong food, or a food which your dog does not tolerate very well, your vet will be able to advise you on the right type of food. There are some great foods on the market today which will encourage your furry friend to chew more and better. This is crucial when combating bad breath.

How can I help to make my dog’s breath smell fresher?

Dogs love to chew and it is a good idea to encourage your dog to chew.

My little dog loves a healthy snack called Greenies. Greenies give him something to do and makes him chew. They also contain decaffeinated green tea which is full of antioxidants and the texture of Greenies encourage your dog to chew. As a matter of fact, I think that Greenies solved my dog's bad breath problem. They seem to clean his mouth really well.

Regular check ups are also important for your dog. Make sure you check your dog’s teeth yourself on a weekly basis to spot any problems early on, but when your dog has his annual injections ask the vet to check your dog’s teeth and mouth.

It is just as important as asking the vet to listen to your dog’s heart.

The herb Parsley helps. If you cook and prepare your dog’s food add some parsley. It is great for a fresh breath, and it also helps your dog to digest his food better. If you dog only eats a dry food you can put parsley in his drinking water. The best way to do this is to put some fresh parsley in a bowl and cover it with hot water. After five minutes remove the parsley and allow the water to cool. All dogs I have tried this on seem to like parsley water. Parsley supplements are also available for dogs

Decaffeinated green tea is actually okay for dogs in small quantities. Just add some cold decaffeinated green tea to your dog’s water bowl. This is also great treatment for dogs that suffer cancer, or have skin problems.

Provide your dog with a range of chewy toys which will exercise his teeth. Make sure they are safe as you do not want your canine friend to swallow any foreign objects.

Carrot sticks are one of my dog’s favorites. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he actually loves carrot sticks. If your dog has a sensitive stomach I would not recommend carrot sticks as they contain a lot of fiber and can therefore cause diarrhoea. Carrots are also rich in beta carotene which is good for overall health.

Remember that many health problems can start in your dog’s mouth, so help your canine friend and give him the best food and oral care you can afford.

No to smelly breath

Health checkups are important for dogs,too.
Health checkups are important for dogs,too. | Source

The top five mouth problems in dogs

Before I started this article I did some research at my local vets. I asked if they could tell me the five most common mouth or tooth related problems, they see in dogs visiting their veterinary clinic. They hand the information at their finger tips, or rather should I say, on the office computer. So here it is - a top five of mouth related problems in dogs.

Tooth abscess

Some dog owners still ignore good veterinary advice, and don't have their dogs teeth cleaned, dogs often come in with tooth abscesses. A tooth abscess happens when the root of the tooth becomes infected. Bacteria has been able to get into the root through a cracked tooth, but this can also be caused by periodontal disease.

An abscess can make it difficult for your dog to eat. Your dog might drop food, tip his head to one side to chew, or go off his food altogether. The eye closest to the infection can also swell, as the infected root could be close to the eye. Abscesses can spread quickly, and cause problems for other teeth so you need to take your dog to the vet.

Loose teeth

Puppies lose their teeth, and this is not a problem. They have deciduous teeth just like humans, and they need to fall out to make room for permanent, larger teeth. Puppies loose their teeth around 4 - 6 months, and by the time your puppy is around 8 months, he or she will have 42 adult teeth.

Just like children, some puppies may have problems with baby teeth not following out. This problem can be easily spotted, and you will see two teeth in the same place in your puppy's mouth. If this happens, you should visit the vet so he can remove the baby tooth. If the baby tooth is not removed it can cause damage to the adult tooth, and lead to problems in the future.

Adults dogs can suffer loose teeth as well. A loose tooth in an adult dog normally means periodontal disease, or your dog could have damaged the tooth in some way.

Tooth damage or trauma

This is more common than we think in dogs, and as owners we should look out for this problem.

Dogs use their months for so much, and the best advice is always to keep an eye on what your dog has in his mouth. Picking up the wrong object can cause real problems. Lots of dogs love picking up rocks, or hard sticks. It might be a fun game for you and your dogs, but rocks can break a tooth, and a stick can lead to splinters being retained in your dog's moth.

A broken, or a cracked tooth, can also be result of tugging games, playing too rough or impact. Dogs sometimes crack, or damage teeth, when they catch a frisbee or a hard ball. Rubber or nylon toys which are a bit flexible are the best toys.

Misaligned teeth

Vets even see dogs with misaligned teeth. This is often a result of a jaw problem, and may need surgery, as misaligned teeth can cause a painful mouth and jaw. We all no dogs can't wear braces but sometimes vets need to take action. Misaligned teeth are often removed, or they can also be capped. It is really very important to deal with this problem as early as possible, as dogs with severely misaligned teeth cannot eat properly.

Periodontal Disease

If you notice blood on your dog's toys, you should check their moth. Swollen and bleeding gums is most commonly a sign of periodontal disease. This is one of the most common health problems in dogs.

It all starts when plaque starts to build up on your dog's teeth. Plaque will lead to tartar which is a hard, almost brown, substance. When the problem moves to the gum line, your dog can develop gingivitis. Signs of gingivitis are red and puffy gums. This can in turn lead to tooth loss, but also introduce infection which travel via the bloodstream to other organs.

If you notice this problem visit your dog's vet as soon as possible. Periodontal disease can be avoided by regular cleaning of your dog's teeth. Chewing is also good for your dog's teeth, so it is important for your dog to have toys for chewing and healthy snacks such as Greenies to chew on.

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How to brush your dog's teeth

My canine friend Gonzo
My canine friend Gonzo | Source

Doggie Skin Health

I have decided to add some information about skin health as many dogs suffer from skin problems. My Yorkie suffered from poor skin health when he arrived in my life, so I know how difficult this problem can be to deal with. It is a condition which is distressing for both dogs and owners.

Dogs can also suffer from allergies and eczema. Internal and external factors cause problems, and anything from food to incorrect bedding can be the cause.

It is important to pay attention to your dog skin, and remember that any problems caught early are easier to deal with.

I am a great believer in natural products for pets as well as humans, and I have noticed that many dogs with skin problems respond really well to a flax seed oil supplement.

Flax seed oil seems to work better than Cod Liver Oil or Fish oil for doggie skin problems, and it is simple to administer as you just add it to food.

If you notice your dog has a skin problem try adding 1000 mg of flax seed oil per day for a small dog, and for a large dog ( 50 kilos) add 3000 mg per day to food.

This also works well for dogs with dull coats or dry skin problems.

Dog Toys For Young and Old Dog Friends

We have recently been joined by a young puppy called Sadie. She is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Doberman. She is only six months so she loves to chew, and loves nothing better than to surprise with the odd chewed piece of footwear.

I have looked at several types of dog toys which are the best for young as well as old dogs, and I have come to the conclusion that Kong toys are probably the best dog toys on the market.

It is easy to put bits of food into Kong toys which make them more interesting, and you can even buy Kong toys that float. So what ever type of toy you are looking for I am sure you will find it in the Kong toy range.

My new puppy Sadie
My new puppy Sadie | Source


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    • profile image

      Sarah 14 months ago

      Great and informative article, I learned a great deal and will check my dogs' teeth more frequently. BTW, a few times you spelled "mouth" incorrectly as "moth".

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Annie Messeri 4 years ago from Spain

      Yes it is sadly one of those problems that dog owners neglect. I wish I could get my Yorkie to use a toothbrush but I can't.

    • profile image

      dogfond 4 years ago

      Voted up! Really interesting hub. a lot of dog owners seem to forget the importance of dental hygiene in dogs.

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Annie Messeri 5 years ago from Spain

      Thank you for dropping by. Lots of people seem to have a problem with their dog's breath. Take care Annie

    • Sissi Ravano profile image

      Theskha 5 years ago from The Beautiful Ligurian Sea, Arm Of The Mediterranean Sea

      very useful information indeed. Thanks Annie.