When a puppy mouth-breathes all over your face, the result is a special combo of adorable and unsettling. That adorable quality, however, quickly fades when your dog reaches a point (usually around the age of three) when bacteria, plaque, and tarter all combine to usher in the beginning of periodontal (gum) disease. The first sign of this condition is – you guessed it – dog breath. The good news? It’s entirely preventable!
Warning! Stinky Breath Alert
Off-putting dog breath is not just proof that dogs will be dogs. Ranging from slightly sweet to rank and sour, dog breath serves as a red flag that something is not right inside the mouth.
Periodontal disease is the most common ailment among cats and dogs; in fact, a majority of all pets over age 3 have it in one stage or another. While foul-smelling dog breath is usually the first indicator of disease, there are other symptoms that point to developing issues.
The mouth is naturally full of bacteria. Over time, bacteria forms plaque on the surface of the teeth (usually along the gum line). When mineral-rich saliva hardens the plaque, tartar forms (also known as calculus), which may turn teeth a yellow-brown color.
What Lies Beneath
It’s important to see what’s going on below the gum line. Regular professional cleanings are a huge part of preventing dog breath and periodontal disease, in addition to daily tooth brushing at home. During a cleaning, and while your dog is anesthetized, we may take digital x-rays to gain a clearer understanding of the whole picture.
In Tandem With Dog Breath
Foul breath may be the first red flag, but it might also be happening at the same time as many of these common symptoms of periodontal disease:
- Dropping food
- Trouble chewing
- Pain or sensitivity around the mouth
- Preference shift from dry to wet food
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing at the face
- Yellowed or brown teeth
- Inflamed gums
Ignoring dog breath can lead to:
- Bone loss around the teeth
- Jaw fractures
- Loose teeth
- Nasal discharge
Also consider that oral bacteria can seep into the bloodstream, putting your dog’s vital organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys, at risk of major systemic illness.
Other Ways to Combat Dog Breath
We’re happy to work together on a supportive plan that suits your dog’s needs. We can establish a tooth brushing schedule and help you develop your own technique, as well as prescribe certain products that promote optimal pet dental health. For instance, gels, water additives, and treats and toys can all play big roles in keeping your dog’s mouth clean.
Providing dental care for your dog (at home and at our office) ensures a brighter future for him or her and strengthens the bond between you.
Please let us know if you have further questions about dog breath. Happy brushing!
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