German Shepherd Dog

My Dog Has Halitosis!

– by Sheri Huttner

Ahhh, there’s nothing like sweet little puppy kisses being planted all over your face. But, is Poochie’s breath bad enough to knock you out?

The care of your dog’s teeth should begin the day you get him, not when problems develop. Certain breeds, particularly the smaller ones, are prone to dental problems, so extra preventative care should be taken.

Giving your puppy hard biscuits such as MilkBone is a good start. Many companies make similar biscuits, so your dog can have a nice variety. Hard chew toys are great, too. The important thing is to get the dog into the habit of chewing hard and crunchy things which will act as a “toothbrush” to keep the teeth strong and free of tartar.

The food you feed your dog can play an important part in your dog’s dental health, as well. I have always fed my dogs dry food with an occasional can of food as a treat. Never mix dry and canned food, as that defeats the purpose by turning the dry food soft. My motto: ‘Feed your dog mush and his teeth will turn to mush.’ In fact, one of the reasons the smaller breeds often have dental problems is because owners tend to feed them canned food, feeling they are “pampering” them.

Pet stores sell tooth brushing kits for dogs. Do they work? Well, it can’t hurt, and if you begin a tooth brushing regimen when the dog is young….BEFORE tartar develops, it certainly can help prevent future problems. Once tartar develops, brushing won’t have much of an effect. At that point, it’s time to take the dog to the vet.

Many of my dog grooming clients ask me if I can clean their dog’s teeth. Teeth cleaning requires that the dog be heavily sedated. It also requires special tools, the same as your own dentist would use. Only a veterinarian has the expertise to do this. When you bring your dog to the vet for his regular visits, he should always examine the dog’s teeth and gums. In between visits, you should periodically check the dog’s mouth for signs of tartar and anything irregular. The first thing most people usually notice is bad doggie breath. By then, the tartar is often at an advanced stage, sometimes so bad that teeth must be extracted.

When looking in your dog’s mouth, look for green and/or brown stains, or a crust-like matter on the teeth. If you see visible signs of tartar, swelling or discoloration of the gums, or anything that doesn’t look quite right, make an appointment with your vet. Poor dental hygiene can lead to infection and other more serious health problems for your pets.

  Reprinted with permission from Sheri Huttner of

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