Friday, July 16, 2010

Dear Labby

Dear Labby,

My Lab has really bad breath! He could peel the paint right off the wall! Is there any hope for kinder, gentler breath from my four legged friend?

Craig in Cumming

Dear Craig,

I know what you mean! Sometimes my Lab's breath curls my toes! But all is not lost. There are many things you can do to eliminate the stinkiness!

Did you know it is estimated that up to 80% of all dogs have periodontal disease? That's serious business. It causes inflammation, mineral build-up, plaque, tooth decay and gum disease. Even worse, Periodontal Disease predisposes your dog to heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and arthritis.

So, what can you do?

First of all, encourage your dog to chew. Dog biscuits, Nyla bones and chew toys work really well for scraping the teeth clean and they usually have fun doing it. Avoid canned or wet food. The hard crunchy kibble makes a huge difference in keeping those choppers sparkling!

Second, at least once a week, brush your furry friend's "furry" teeth. Introduce the toothbrush gradually and be sure to follow up the brushing with plenty of praise so your pup will start to look forward to it. Be sure to use dog toothpaste. People toothpaste has additives that can be harmful to our four-legged friends since they don't spit it out.

If those simple fixes are not improving the problem, talk to your vet about it. Your vet will look for warning signs like brownish spots on the back teeth, a thin red line running along the gum lines and deterioration of the root and bone. Once the issue is identified your vet may suggest a thorough cleaning, particularly of the affected teeth or application of an antibiotic gel under the gums in the area where bacteria may have settled.

Just like in people, tooth problems may be irreversible, and your dog only gets one set, so be sure to pay attention to them. There is no need to breathe in the toxic fumes from your pooch's mouth for eternity. Dog bad breath has a cure! Until next time...Woof!

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