How Doggy Breath Could Save Your Pet’s Life

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help. See your veterinarian for advice suited specifically to your dog.

If you’re like most pet parents, you probably think your dog’s stinky breath is normal, so you ignore it. But doggy breath is an indication of infection that can be deadly if left untreated.

Dental disease is one of the most widespread issues plaguing dogs today—in fact, roughly 90% of dogs will have some degree of dental disease by the time they are just three years old, and often it arises even earlier. PetMD says neglecting dental care is the #2 cause of earlier death in our dogs.

We talked to one of the world’s leading pet dentists, Dr. Brook Niemiec, who is shedding light on why dental disease is so prevalent and what you need to be asking your vet about your pet’s oral health.

Doggy Breath is Not Normal

Stinky dog breath is not normal and indicates an infection in your dog's mouth.

Stinky dog breath is not normal and indicates an infection in your dog’s mouth.

Although most people just accept bad doggy breath as reality, it’s a glaring sign something is really wrong.

“We have been trained to think some degree of gum disease as being normal—it’s not normal,” Dr. Niemiec explains. “It’s a sign of infection, and if your dog has bad breath, it’s a sign of severe infection.”

Dr. Niemiec believes the common misconceptions about pet dental hygiene and health are due to lack of education.

“Less than one-third of veterinary schools actually have a vet dentist on staff,” Dr. Niemiec says. “The new grads are learning from people who graduated 20 or 30 years ago, and they didn’t get any dentistry training either. Almost all the dental knowledge is picked up off the street.

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Pet Health Scare; Why Skipping the Vet is a Bad Idea

Thinking about skipping a visit to the vet to save some cash? You’d better think again! New statistics show pets are getting sicker simply because their owners are skimping on basic medical care.

vet exams dog's earObesity, kidney disease, arthritis and cancer are all on the rise and the American Veterinary Medical Association says it’s because owners are not taking their pets to the vet for routine exams. We found a USA Today article detailing the pet health epidemic, so we reached out to our vet expert to find out what’s really going on.

Obesity is up 37 percent in dogs (and an astounding 90 percent in cats). Diabetes is up 32 percent and arthritis is up 38 percent. A whopping 60 percent of dogs have dental disease, which is highly preventable.

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Dental Disease Part II: A Teeth-Cleaning Experience

We chronicled the warning signs and dangers of dental disease in the first part of this series on oral health. Now it’s time to explore a teeth-cleaning procedure done right. It’s very important to ask the right questions and make sure your dog is taken care of during his teeth cleaning, as he will be put under general anesthesia and may need to have teeth removed. More on that to come. First, let’s walk through the teeth-cleaning procedure.

Step one: Anesthesia

sundownanesthesiaSundown has his IV in place and is ready for his injection of propofol to induce anesthesia. A vet should perform a check on your dog before inducing anesthesia to make sure he’s healthy enough for it. Blood work may need to be done. Sundown checked out fine; he is young and quite healthy so he was green-lighted for this procedure. You should ask what precautions your vet takes against anesthetic complications.

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Dental Disease Part I: How to Protect Your Dog’s Teeth

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Sundown has a red line between the tooth and the gum as well as layers of brown tartar build-up, classic signs of stage-one gingivitis.

Dental disease in dogs is unfortunately quite common. In fact, a vast majority (upwards of 85 percent) of dogs will develop dental disease in their lifetime, and most by the time they are three-years-old.

We have been aware of this sobering fact since Yellow Dog was a wee-one of five months. We constantly check Yellow’s teeth and offer bully sticks often to keep his teeth healthy. This vigilance has worked for Yellow but sometimes genetics play a role; this has been the case for Yellow’s brother, Sundown, who currently has stage-one gingivitis, which is characterized by tartar build-up on the upper-rear teeth and minor inflammation at the gum line.

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Sundown’s Trip to the Dentist

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Sundown’s tartar build-up is apparent on his upper-rear teeth and the red line between the gum and the tooth is indicative of gingivits

A Yellow has been busy tending to his brother Sundown, who just this past Friday went in for a teeth cleaning and diagnosis of the underlying bone structure. We’ve learned a lot about dental disease and how it is unfortunately common in most dogs before the age of three. We are working on a two-part series to help you learn more about your dog’s oral health and what to do if your dog does develop dental disease. We will bring you the series in the coming days!

Stay Yellow!