We've smelled the breath of loads of dogs and relatively speaking, some dogs aren't so bad (just take a moment to think about where they lick… yeah, right there… oh yeah, and there too!) and others simply make you want to don an oxygen mask. Although we try to not hurt the feelings of the offending pooch, sometimes there's just no hiding our disdain for her breath. And while we understand that not every pup will have minty-fresh breath, there are steps that you can take to help her put her best mouth forward. One major factor for her bad breath could be the buildup of tartar on her teeth. See those orange/yellow/brownish stains on her teeth? Yep, that's yer tartar right there, folks. The film that formed from bacteria then created a layer of plaque which, when mixed with minerals in her saliva, result in the hard coating of tartar that you now see (and smell – yuck!). Not only is the smell unwanted, the presence of tartar may lead to other avoidable health issues: infected gums, heart disease or tooth decay. For now, we'll discuss tartar as a cause of her bad breath, but you should keep in mind that her halitosis could possibly be a sign of several other health issues as well: diabetes, sinus infection, gastrointestinal problems, or inflammation of her tonsils or throat. Also know that some dogs, like smaller breeds and snub-nosed dogs whose teeth are closer together, can be more likely to develop a buildup of tartar.
What you can do to help prevent tartar from taking over her mouth (and to preserve the olfactory harmony of your home) involves a few steps. Firstly, know that, as in humans, a good way to ward off tartar (and the resulting nasty, stanky breath) is to keep on top of it by simply preventing it. Humans do it by brushing, flossing and eating certain foods (like apples). So, go on… give your dog a bone! A large, raw bone (to prevent choking) is a good choice or a large, cooked bone from the pet store also will do the trick. But know that some silly dogs can get a bit over zealous when gnawing on their bone, resulting in damaged teeth and gums! It's best to consider the large bones as an occasional treat (but you can give her dental chews or rawhide products more frequently). And did you know there's even a type of mouthwash for dogs (now you've heard everything!!)? No, you don't make her gargle with it; rather it's a supplement you can add to her water bowl that works by reducing the bacteria in her mouth.
And, as silly as it might sound, brush her teeth! Yep, a sweep around her teeth once a week with a specially designed soft-bristle toothbrush (or a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger) will do the trick to prevent the buildup of tartar. There's even store-bought doggy toothpaste or you can make your own with a small bit of baking soda and water. If she's not cool with you touching her choppers, give it some time and she'll get used to it. This said, if the tartar is really out of control, you'll want to talk with your vet about the possibility of a professional descaling and cleaning to remove it all.
And that's the tooth!
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