It’s an everyday phenomenon for Jocelyn Fredlund, a practicing veterinarian in Edmonton, Canada and one which often causes her to cringe in disgust and sometimes even blush with embarrassment. It’s her pooch’s foul-smelling breath, and sometimes, not even Fredmund, can stop it from invading her weekly yoga class when she partners up with her Australian Shepard mix Tia. Many dog owners find themselves fighting this battle day after day. When their beloved pet sleeps next to them on the sofa, begs for food at the table, or when it accompanies them to yoga class. Why does this occur, and most importantly, how can parents of a “foul-mouthed” pooch remedy this common problem?
Although halitosis in dogs can have a multitude of causes, Fredlund says the most frequent reason for the bad breath is periodontal disease, an infection of the gums caused by tartar buildup that results from common mouth bacteria.
However, Fredlund warns that the foul-smelling odor can sometimes be a sign of a more threatening and serious illness. “Diabetes or kidney disease, for example, can manifest as changes to your pet’s breath,” she says. “Some autoimmune diseases also present similar symptoms.”
Additionally, dogs with large lips are just more prone to halitosis including Great Danes and Cocker Spaniels, may develop bacterial buildup in lip folds that cause infection and odor.
So how can a loving pet owner help their dog become odor-free? To truly remedy the dog’s halitosis, Fredlund says a veterinarian must examine and test the pooch to determine the underlying causes for the problem and recommend treatment. However, Dr. Anson T. Tsugawa, a veterinarian at the California Animal Hospital Medical and Surgical Group who is board certified in veterinary dentistry has some steps dog parents can take to treat common bad breath.
Daily teeth brushing helps decrease the bacteria that causes plaque buildup on the teeth. Oral hygeine rinses and drinking water additives that have chlorhexidine also help reduce plaque and odor. Csugawa says that foods and treats marketed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council will keep your pup’s teeth tartar-free.
For this reason, she recommends a regimen of special food, rinses or gels, and brushing as the most effective way to battle dog-breath and perhaps make bringing your pooch to yoga (or wherever the day takes you) a bit more tolerable.