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Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

"Doggy breath" ? that unpleasant odor emanating from the mouths of Rover and Boomer ? can be a signal of serious health problems.

A dog's mouth is his primary means of contact with the world around him. He uses his mouth to eat, to investigate and to communicate. The jaws are a powerful tool used to grind, gnaw, crush and carry. Keeping this part of your pet's body healthy is vital to his quality of life and longevity.

Fifty to eighty percent of all dogs suffer from periodontal disease. Tartar buildup is the primary cause. Just as in humans, small particles of food remain on the teeth after eating. If not removed, these particles decompose, causing the growth of bacteria that then forms plaque and tartar. As tartar grows, it literally pushes the gums away from the teeth which then loosen over time. Loose teeth reveal root sockets which can easily become infected. In untreated cases, the infection can travel from the root socket to the dog's bloodstream where the bacteria takes up residence in the kidney, liver and heart causing disease of these organs.

How do I recognize periodontal disease in my dog?

There are specific signs and symptoms that indicate mouth problems including a change in eating habits. While not all dogs suffering from periodontal disease change feeding habits, changes can be an indication of trouble. Pawing at the mouth, abnormal drooling, mouth tenderness, facial inflammation, obvious oral bleeding, sneezing, nasal discharge and swelling around the eyes are also indicators of mouth problems. The most obvious and usually the first sign of a problem, though, is that tale tell bad breath.

What can I do to prevent and/or treat my pet's periodontal disease?

The experts agree that a diet consisting of primarily soft canned food is not a good idea. "The buildup of plaque in pets' soft canned diets is very rapid," says R. Hines, DVM. Opinions differ on the tartar-removing properties of hard foods, but experts DO agree that crunchy, dry food does not adhere to the teeth as much and therefore tartar and plaque do not build up as quickly.

Besides diet, yearly dental checkups are advised. Even if you don't give annual vaccinations, regular oral exams by a professional can make a huge difference in your pet's health. Herbal supplements such as Echinacea and other herbal medicines can be used internally to improve immune system health. Herbs can also be used as a tea or mouthwash. (Our next newsletter will address the issue of herbs and our pets.)

If you do suspect periodontal disease already at work, do not hesitate to visit your veterinarian for a professional cleaning and possible antibiotic treatment if he detects an infection.

The most important thing you can do to protect your pet's dental health is to brush his teeth! Use a child's toothbrush and a toothpaste developed for pets. Your vet can advise on the best methods of training your dog to let you brush his teeth.

Good dental health and preventative care can add years to your dog's life and save him undue suffering from kidney, liver and heart disease. Its never too late to get started!

Looking for an all-natural dry food to benefit your pet's dental health? Take a look at Flint River Ranch, available from Barker and Friends at www.naturalbarker.com. Flint River Ranch's all natural ingredients promote good overall health with easily digestible kibble free of chemical preservatives and additives. Combining a healthy dry food, all natural treats from Barker and Friends at www.naturalbarker.com and regular dental exams can help your furry friend live a long and happy life.

An encouraging word:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Sherry Massey is the owner of a home-based natural dog treat bakery, Barker and Friends. Our goal is to not only provide you with the best all-natural treat and pet food on the market, but to share valuable information that will allow our furry loved ones to live longer, healthier and happier lives. Check our website at http://www.naturalbarker.com or contact us at barkerandfriends@cox.net.

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