Dog Breath: It's More Than Just Stinky
When Fido or Fifi decides to get cuddly with you but their breath smells a bit like your old hiking boot that's had a dead fish in it for a month, it's likely time for a visit to the doggie Dentist.
And while we laugh at the thought and often say, "Oh ya, that's my Bruiser!", it's a sign we shouldn't pinch our noses at. Sadly, almost always, when dinosaur breath develops, dental disease has reached a stage that needs immediate attention.
Identifying the "root" cause...
We all know that old saying "dog breath done killed the dog". Or, maybe not. But, the truth is, unless your pup enjoys a good cigar after his garlic laden anchovy pizza, the fact is, that nasty breath should be a tell-tale sign that prompt dental attention is needed. Most dental disease occurs under the gumline. Left unchecked, plaque and bacteria can enter the bloodstream, and if the immune system is unable to kill if off, there is increased risk of heart disease and liver and other organ damage.
Other signs that your pooch needs dental attention include redness or bleeding of the gums, loose, cracked, or broken teeth, drooling or food dropping, weight loss, or changes in behaviour. Statistics show that over 80% of dogs show signs of developing periodontal disease by age three (when regular maintenance isn't practiced).
Who ya gonna call?
So, "there's something weird and it don't look good", who ya gonna call? Certainly, if your pup is displaying any of the obvious signs of dental disease, the first call you make should be to your vet. I know there's a crowd of you out there who might think, hey, let's see what my social media pals think. But, truth be told, they -at least the vast majority- don't hold veterinary degrees so, if anything at all, you'll just be skipping a step by going straight to the dog Doc.
The good news is you will be putting the brakes on any further spread and disease. The bad news is, it may cost a few bucks. But, truthfully, the dollars and effort spent on regular dental hygiene will go a loooooong way to avoiding costly (both financial and emotional) illnesses down the road.
The clock's ticking but it's never too late...
Your pup may be getting older and her breath may be getting stinkier, but it's never too late to teach an old dog a new trick, and your pooch too! Teeth brushing is probably the best step but it might take time to introduce this to an older fur-kid (trust me on this -wink wink-). There are videos galore out there on how to introduce it and the proper way to do it. Be absolutely sure you use toothpaste designed SPECIFICALLY for K9s. After all, you're trying to extend his life not kill him (which is what could happen if you use your Sparkle-Full-of-Toxins-Whitening toothpaste)! There are lots of options for toothbrushes too, so you may have to experiment. The key to all of this ... CONSISTENCY. If it's not possible to fit in a "brush session" every day, 3 times a week is what the Docs recommend.
Add a shot, with a water chaser...
Other forms of dental health preventatives include water additives. Probably the most highly recommended is called Healthy Mouth (well, duh, that's what we're looking for right?) and you add it to the fur-kids' drinking water. There are many other brands out there but I urge you to do your homework (or check with your vet) before giving it. You know, that better safe than sorry thing.
Dental chews are another alternative. (Personally, I don't care to give them ... but I'm a particularly over-protective and cautious fur-kid mom). Again, research the ingredients and check with your vet for safety. Choking or toxin hazards are everywhere.
Hey, life's busy and we all have a lot on our plates so don't sweat it if you struggle with fitting so much into your schedule. Take is slow and start with what feels best.
Truth be told, I wasn't good at all when it came to the fur-kids dental care needs. In fact, that was one subject in which I'd earn an F! But, only after our aging Miss Joee went in for a second cleaning in as many years, losing a paw full of teeth to boot, did I realize how important dental hygiene really is for our pups. In fact, our old gal suffered an ophthalmic manifestation (in plain lingo, her eye became inflamed and red) due to advanced dental disease. But, once those rotten teeth were removed and her mouth was cleaned up, as well as steroid drops in her eye, she bounced back in no time. And, what was so critical is that Miss Joee is a one-eyed dog!
Tail-wagging happy end...
For me, that was the wake up call I needed to take the fur-kids' dental health more seriously. So, I have found a way to fit tooth-brushing in for our three mutts every single day. In fact, Jeffrey, the pup, loves having his teeth brushed, he knows the queues and is right there waiting when it's time.
So, take heart and Happy brushing!