Does Your Pet’s Breath Pass the Sniff Test?

Does Your Pet’s Breath Pass the Sniff Test?

You’re a model dog owner. You take your four-legged friend for long walks, play fetch, read labels on dog food, and never miss a veterinarian appointment.

But you’re probably not keeping up with your pet’s dental care. A recent survey shows that while 57% of dog owners admit their pet has bad breath, only 6% schedule a cleaning to take care of the problem.

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Here’s why you should: Bad breath is more than just a sign your pooch needs a good tooth-brushing. He might have a more serious issue, like an oral infection or gum disease. In fact, more than 75% of dogs get gum disease by middle age, which can affect more than their tooth health.

To keep your pal’s mouth in tip-top shape, follow these guidelines.

See your vet for a dental exam. Visit your veterinarian at least once a year for a dental exam (under anesthesia, if necessary) and complete dental X-rays.

“Only a fraction of the tooth can be seen on the exam,” says Andrea Hilden, DVM, of Animal Care Center of Green Valley in Arizona. “The rest of the tooth is covered by the gums and bone, and without dental radiographs, a large percentage of painful disease processes can be missed.”

If your dog has a history of dental disease, see your vet more often. If you notice bad breath, make an appointment immediately.

Set up an at-home routine. “Discuss with your veterinarian a complete at-home dental wellness care plan that includes brushing but may also include water additives, dental chews, specialized diets, oral gels, and rinses,” Hilden says. “When it comes to keeping your dog’s mouth clean, a multifaceted approach is often the most beneficial.”

Brush as often as you can. Once you get the go-ahead from your vet, begin a tooth-brushing regimen (using a toothpaste created for dogs, not humans).

“Make it attainable,” Hilden says. “If you’re not brushing your dog’s teeth at all, don’t expect to start brushing all teeth every day without fail. You and your dog need to develop a routine.”

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