Seek­ing the source of bad breath

EQUUS - - Barn Dogs -

Q:My ter­rier’s breath stinks. What can I do about it? I give her chew toys that are sup­posed to be good for her den­tal health, but they don’t seem to help all that much, and her kisses are lethal.

A:If only dog breath was as sweet as horse breath! Chews made for den­tal heath can be help­ful but usu­ally only as a pre­ven­tive mea­sure. It sounds like your ter­rier has gone past that point and now may need more ad­vanced den­tal care.

Any dog can de­velop den­tal dis­ease, but ter­ri­ers and cer­tain other small breeds are par­tic­u­larly at risk. A dog’s

ba­sic tooth struc­ture is very much like our hu­man teeth, and they can get cav­i­ties, pe­ri­odon­tal dis­ease, tooth root in­fec­tions and other den­tal prob­lems just like we do.

The most re­li­able sign of den­tal dis­ease in dogs is bad breath, so, un­for­tu­nately, it is time to visit your vet­eri­nar­ian. Chances are, at a min­i­mum, there are ar­eas of your dog’s mouth where plaques and tar­tar are ob­scur­ing the sur­face of the teeth, and the gums may be red­dened. But this is only the tip of the ice­berg. The real prob­lem may be that bac­te­ria-laden plaques are spread­ing un­der the gum­line, set­ting off in­fec­tions and in­flam­ma­tory re­ac­tions that can dam­age the teeth and sur­round­ing tis­sues.

For a more ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis of what is go­ing on in your dog’s mouth, your vet­eri­nar­ian will first need to clear away the vis­i­ble plaque and tar­tar, a pro­ce­dure which must be done un­der gen­eral anes­the­sia. Mod­ern anes­thetic pro­to­cols are very safe and al­low for a com­plete clean­ing and exam. Even many humans need to have “se­da­tion den­tistry” to over­come the fear and dis­com­fort of den­tal work, so don’t deny it to your lit­tle dog! (Groomers and other dog-care pro­fes­sion­als may of­fer to scrape your dog’s teeth while she is awake, but this pro­ce­dure is only cos­metic.)

Once your vet­eri­nar­ian has re­moved the tar­tar, he will be able to de­ter­mine what fur­ther treat­ments may be nec­es­sary. The den­tal ser­vices avail­able to dogs can be as com­pre­hen­sive as those for peo­ple, and you have many op­tions de­pend­ing on your bud­get and your ter­rier’s needs.

Please don’t de­lay in see­ing your vet­eri­nar­ian. Un­treated pe­ri­odon­tal dis­ease will only grow worse over time, and in some cases the re­sult­ing in­fec­tions will spread into the si­nuses or the bones of the jaw or skull. Plus, on the off-chance that your dog’s teeth are not the prob­lem, then your vet­eri­nar­ian will have to ex­am­ine her more thor­oughly to find the source of the stink.

Good luck! I hope you are back to sweet lit­tle ter­rier kisses in no time!

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