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Question / Answer

My dog has bad breath, is it the food?

There are many potential things that can cause bad breath in pets—including eating something smelly, digestive upset, or kidney disease. However, dental disease is the most common culprit.

Dental disease affects 80% of dogs by three years of age. In addition to a bad smell that disrupts cuddle time with your pup, dental disease can impact quality of life and whole-body health.

That’s because dental disease can progress to periodontal disease, a condition where the structures that hold teeth in place (the gums, bone, and periodontal ligaments) are affected.

This leads to pain, inflammation, infections, tooth loss, and even thinning of the jawbone and heart/kidney infections (due to bacteria entering the bloodstream via inflamed gums) if severe.

For all these reasons, oral hygiene must be taken seriously in pets. Oral hygiene should be evaluated at your pet’s routine checkups. As a pet parent, you can also schedule a dental check any time you notice bad breath, difficulty eating, bleeding gums, or any other symptoms related to the mouth.

In pets, dental disease can be prevented or managed through a combination of dental cleanings at your vet’s office and daily tooth brushing at home with a toothpaste designed for pets. Your vet team can explain exactly how to brush your dog’s teeth (with a little patience, many pups grow accustomed to this new habit), and let you know when your dog is due for a dental cleaning.

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