Where’s that smell coming from?!

Let’s freshen that breath together!

Do you find yourself embarrassed when your dog or feline friend hops on someone’s lap to lick their face? Not because of the behaviour itself, as you likely have come to find it quite endearing in your own pet, but because you’re afraid they will get a whiff of that dreaded “doggy breath” or “cat breath”. Well you may be surprised to find out that “doggy breath” does not actually need to be a bad thing – your dog and cat’s breath can smell good! Your pet’s breath is never going to smell like beautiful roses, but it does not need to smell bad, and can actually smell nice and fresh just like you after you’ve brushed your teeth.

We often think that all that needs to be done to fix up bad breath in our pets is a simple tooth brushing, or a dental toy to chew on, or perhaps a dental diet or treat to fix the problem. However, while these things are fantastic for helping to prevent and reduce dental issues, oftentimes the issues have gotten worse than we realize and more aggressive measures need to be taken before we can start using the other methods to prevent the problem from happening again. This is probably a good spot to give you a little background on how our pets end up with that stinky breath in the first place.

The medical term used for the cause of “dog or cat breath” is periodontal disease. This is plaque induced inflammation and infection of the gingiva (gums), periodontal ligament (holds the tooth in place), and alveolar bone (jaw bone around the tooth). (Clinical Veterinary Advisor, 3rd Edition, 2015) For a more practical description let’s try a comparison…you know that feeling when you forget to brush your teeth (not that any of us have ever done that…) and it starts to feel a bit “fuzzy” on the surface? Well that is actually the beginning of periodontal disease. This is the plaque stage, before it accumulates and hardens to form tartar. As periodontal disease progresses, tartar can build up to such extreme amounts that it can completely obscure the normal tooth underneath, and ultimately lead to gum recession, and even infection deep in the root of the tooth (tooth root abscess). At this stage of the disease, teeth often need to be extracted and this much infection in the mouth can actually have an affect on the overall health of your pet as well. If you take your pet to the vet to have its teeth examined, he or she will assess the periodontal health of your pet in stages as shown in the diagrams below.

Ref: http://canberravet.com.au/SearchPetInfo/PeriodontalDiseaseinCatsandDogs.aspx

More on pet dental health HERE.


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