Phew Doggie Breath Part I

The Resource for Everything About Dogs

Phew Doggie Breath Part I

by Mary Margaret Hyde

One of the most common complaints by dog lovers and owners addresses the bad breath that many dogs have. What halitosis signifies is much more serious than just malodorus breath and the wise pet owner will consider the causes and effects of ignoring this potent symptom.

Dogs use their mouths for eating, communicating, investigating and carrying items much as humans use their hands. With so many uses connecting the dog to his world, the mouth should be kept as healthy as possible and bad breath means there is something wrong. All dogs do not have bad breath. So what causes this powerful odor and what can an astute pet owner do about it?

If a dog's bad breath is 'normal', that is, it did not develop just today, it is most likely the odor is coming from his teeth and/or gums. It is estimated that 50% to 80% of all dogs have periodontal disease and it can become serious. Periodontal disease may include inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth and/or a mineral buildup called calculus. Worse news is that periodontal disease predisposes your dog to heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, arthritis and other chronic diseases.

Why do our dogs have these dental problems? One reason is that teeth that are overlapping or are misaligned create pockets where infections can develop. Another reason is that commercially processed foods provide no opportunity for the cleansing action of pulling raw meat from bones and then the natural gnawing on those raw bones.

The alert owner can spot certain symptoms if it is known what to look for. The most significant sign is calculus buildup which causes peridontitis. Plaque (sometimes mistaken for a food residue) is formed by acid from saliva and bacteria that adheres to the smooth surfaces of the tooth. It is not easily seen unless it is stained or very thick. Calculus is the crusty yellow/brown material which attaches to the plaque making an irritant in the dog's mouth. A red or swollen tongue, ulcers (most common on gums where calculus buildup is present on the teeth) and dermatitis on the lips (which may look like pimples and can be caused by using plastic food and water bowls) are all signs that should be reported to your veterinarian. Cancers of the mouth can quickly turn fatal so ANY growth in a dog's mouth should be immediately diagnosed by a veterinarian.

After a diagnosis of a disease conventional treatments primarily rely on antibotics. Sometimes the cure creates another problem. Many holistic veterinarians recommend one or more alternative treatment strategies in treating oral diseases. No matter which type of treatment is used there are two measures that must be followed to assure success. One is regular teeth cleaning and the other is boosting the immune system.

Boosting the immune system may mean a change in your dog's diet along with nutritional support consisting of vitamins A, C, E and the coenzyme Q10. Homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic modalities can all play a part in restoring your dog to optimal health following a diagnosis of dental disease. (A word of warning: symptoms most likely will return if a regular pattern of brushing the teeth is not maintained.)

Part II of Phew! Doggy Breath will focus on how to prevent many problems by a regular easy to follow routine that you and your dog will enjoy and appreciate.

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