You’re sitting on the couch when your dog drops his slimy ball in your lap. Pooch turns to you with that silly smile and it hits you: your dog’s breath smells like the garbage.
Cat owners know the feeling, too. Like when your cat starts cleaning herself and you smell her saliva from across the room.
So how do we stop our pets from having bad breath?
First, we have to figure out the cause.
Why Does My Pet Have Bad Breath?
You feed your pet well, not with table scraps, but with the latest pet formulations. He hasn’t gotten into any roadkill in like ever. So where did this smell come from?
Bad breath, or halitosis, doesn’t come from what your pet just ate. It’s actually the result of a bacterial build up and can be caused by several conditions.
Most savvy pet owners know that the smell typically comes from our pet’s teeth and gums, which we’ll call superficial. What you may not know is that it could be an underlying problem you didn’t consider, such as gastrointestinal issues.
If your pet’s breath has a distinct odor such as urine or fruit, the cause may be liver issues or diabetes, respectively. In these instances your vet will need to do lab work to determine more.
Most of the time it’s just good ol’ fashioned morning breath.
Morning Breath Be Gone
Oh morning breath; that smelly condition that happens when you wake up and last night’s garlic sauce is fighting with the overnight bacteria on your tongue and gums.
We brush our teeth and it’s pretty much gone. So brushing your pet’s teeth will make that smell go away too, right?
Not so fast.
Part of your regular teeth and gum maintenance is a visit to your dentist every 6 months for cleaning. The same should be true for your pet.
There’s a boatload of effective products such as pet toothbrushes, flavored dental toys, and minty products to clean your pet’s teeth and gums. Never use human products on your pet!
Regular maintenance is great, but some pets reach a point where professional cleaning is necessary. Pets also loose teeth so routine check ups will keep his mouth in tip-top shape.
Disinfect those icky balls and toys to destroy the bacteria cycle. Never try to disinfect edible treats and bones that weren’t eaten in one sitting.
If your pet suffers from gastrointestinal issues, pet treats containing yogurt and probiotic supplements are available through your vet if warranted and are well tolerated by most pets.
We’ve heard about the good probiotics found in certain yogurts, but human yogurt is not wholly recommended for pets since the artificial sweetener Xylitol can actually be toxic, and your pet could be lactose intolerant.
Make sure your pet’s food is agreeable to his gut to begin with. Try a one-protein product with little preservatives and grains to rule out sensitivities. Trial and error is key so you can love that wacky smile again!