This is Virginia. She is very sweet and special. You might be able to guess based on how strange her little mouth looks. Virginia has no teeth. She came to Mostly Mutts a few weeks ago. She is a senior girl which may account for some tooth loss but most likely neglect of good dental health is the reason she lost all of her teeth. I bet her breath stank when she had bad teeth.
The most likely culprits of bad doggie breath are teeth issues. Even just ten years ago it was not a very common thing to hear about brushing your dogs teeth. I admit that I had the tooth brushes but my dogs were not accustomed to it so the best I got was to put dog toothpaste (never use your own — flouride will hurt your dog!) on my finger and smudge it around in their mouths. A few years ago, I started bringing all my dogs in for an annual dental. This requires anesthesia and the animals are down about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes depending on how much plaque and gradoo (that’s a technical term I use!) they have going on. When we finished the dentals, my vet told me that if I did not brush or give teeth cleaning chews to the girls at least four times a week it would be ineffective.
This week I attended a Twitter Chat sponsered by Greenies (#GREENIESchat) to promote dental health in dogs. I learned a lot of things that I did not know and was very impressed with the Vet/Dentist, Dr. Brook Niemiec from Southern California Vet Dental Specialties. Check out his bio — http://ow.ly/oM5q. He answered a lot of our questions and brought a lot great info to the table. When I asked him to confirm what my vet said, he told the group, “Brushing teeth daily is the gold standard, but less than 1% of pet owners do this.”
So what causes the bad breath? According to Dr. Niemiec, bacteria is the #1 cause of bad breath in pets. This creates plaque that leads to periodontal disease. Bad breath is a sign of infection in your pet. Periodontal disease is an infection in the gums that can cause your pet to lose teeth, just like Virginia.
So what can we do to battle it? Of course brushing your pet’s teeth would be the ideal thing to do. Don’t ever force it but start gradually. It might be some toothpaste on your finger and rubbing it around at first. There are also a number of dental chews available including those from Greenies (I am not being paid for a review — my dogs all love Greenies!). Something that Dr. Nimiec said on the chat also made me think twice about some “dental” chews I had bought in the past. He said that if you can not indent the chew with your thumbnail then the chew is too hard and could do more harm than good for your pet like breaking teeth. So, as you are looking for dental chews, do that quick test.
I know I’m looking at my dogs dental health differently now! Thanks Dr. Niemiec and Greenies!