You may think that “doggie breath” is just part of a dog being a dog. But that bad breath is probably a sign that your dog’s teeth need some attention. Letting bad breath go is a good way to end up with a very expensive veterinary bill. Did you know your best friend can actually die from untreated dental issues? Periodontal Disease (which affects eighty percent of dogs over the age of three-years-old) can lead to infections. Infections in the teeth can then spread through the blood stream to the kidneys, liver, heart and other organs. In the heart, it causes Bacterial Endocarditis – a blood infection in the heart valves – that can be fatal. As you can see, good dental health is very important. The following are a few tips to help keep your dog’s teeth pearly white and infection free.
1. Let Them Chew
Yup, you read that right. We want your dog to chew on things. Chewing is a dog’s natural way of cleaning those teeth. What your dog is chewing on does matter, however. Choose toys that floss (rope bones), massage the gums (rubber toys with nubs or rounded edges), or break up tarter (harder plastic than rubber, but not so hard there is a risk of teeth breaking). Edible dental chews can be good, but read the ingredient list first – a lot of them are full of fillers and junk that your dog should not be getting. For edible chews, the we recommend meaty bones. All-natural (unlike those processed chews), they clean the dog’s teeth while providing a healthy supplement to their meal. Meaty, fatty, frozen bones are best. I recommend chicken necks for small dogs and frozen beef brisket for large dogs. With anything your dog is chewing, be sure to supervise as things can get stuck, but dogs must chew. It’s how nature intended your dog to clean their teeth.
2. Feed Good Food
How do we get cavities? By eating sugary junk food. Well, your dog is the same way. Feeding junk kibble that is full of sugars and starches will cause the same damage in your own dog’s mouth. Feeding a natural, high quality food will help keep those teeth healthier. Adding in fresh vegetables like carrots give you two benefits – they give your dog essential vitamins and are a wonderful hard, healthy chew for their teeth. You can freeze the carrots for bigger dogs or those with powerful jaws, or as a cool treat when it’s hot outside.
3. Give Him Herbs
There are a few herbs that help with different dental problems, including bad breath. These are not a substitute for going to the veterinarian, but a compliment that can help prevent or treat issues along with your vet prescribed treatment. For fresh breath, try peppermint, parsley, fennel and dill. These are easy to feed, just sprinkle a teaspoon on your dog’s food once a day every day.
What should you do if your dog’s breath really does stink?
If you notice, even with the good food and the routine chewing, that your dog’s breath is really bad, you may already be dealing with an infection. If your dog lets you, check their teeth and see if you can see
any obvious problems – tartar build-up, bleeding, swollen gums, cracked teeth – the same things you would look for in your own mouth. If you see anything or suspect there may be something going on that you can’t see, a vet visit is the best course of action.