There are few things that make me happier than sticking my snout in a big bowl of kibble and gobbling down every last crumb. But all that crunching without proper dental care can create a mouthful of problems—including bad breath. And let’s face it, nothing ruins a cuddle with your canine like doggy halitosis.
Diet can cause bad breath, especially if your dog feasts on table scraps, trash, and other things that are better left unmentioned. But your dog’s bad breath could also be a tell-tale sign of gum disease. That stench means there’s a colony of disease-causing bacteria living and thriving inside his mouth. Not only does it lead to dental pain and tooth decay, but the bacteria can spread to other parts of his body, causing inflammation, sickness, and even death.
The good news is, while bad breath can indicate a more serious illness, the culprit is more often simply poor dental hygiene. Daily brushing is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your dog’s dental health. Of course, dogs don’t usually step up to the sink for a good tooth scrubbing, but the few seconds a day it takes to whisk a brush across his pearly whites will pay off in better health—and sweeter kisses.
While regular brushing is your first line of defense against bad breath and gum disease, there are other ways to help clean your canine’s choppers:
Chew toys. Gnawing on chew toys can rasp away tarter while massaging gums and keeping teeth strong. Select toys that are made from durable, nontoxic materials.
Dental chews. These treats help clean teeth, remove debris, and freshen breath. Products with the Veterinary Oral Health Counsel stamp of approval are recommended.
Water additives. These are solutions that you can add to your dog’s drinking water to tackle bacteria, reduce plaque, and freshen breath. They’re safe to use and can eliminate bacteria in your pet’s mouth and his water bowl.
Professional cleaning. Veterinarians will thoroughly clean your pet’s teeth, check for cavities, and restore teeth to a clean and polished condition.
If you’re looking for a natural solution, take a walk in your garden. These common herbs can help crush bad breath while adding a tasty kick to your pet’s meal:
Mint. Peppermint and spearmint are natural breath fresheners you can chop up and put in your dog’s bowl. A little mint can also settle an upset stomach and help relieve stress.
Cilantro. Cilantro is a wonderful natural way to freshen breath, stimulate gums, and clean teeth. Just sprinkle a pinch on top of your dog’s food.
Sage. Sage is well known for its antiseptic properties. Adding fresh sage to your dog’s food can help rid his mouth of odor-causing bacteria.
Parsley. Fresh parsley can help sweeten your dog’s food—and his breath—naturally. Parsley can also help with digestion and inflammatory issues such as arthritis and cancer.
Remember, dental hygiene is just as important to your dog’s overall health as nutrition, exercise, and grooming. Following a dental-care routine will not only give him a winning smile, fresh breath, and happy gums, but it contributes to a longer, healthier life. ■