Prevention is Where It's At by Dr. David Kerr

The Cause of Stinky Breath in Pets

With 2015 being new and exciting we focus more on our health. For good reason. Health is important. Without good health life in general can be tougher than it already is. Fitness, optimal weight, good oral hygiene are all great things to focus on. By focusing on these things we are avoiding certain physical ailments and diseases. We live longer if we are lean, we feel better when we exercise and our whole body is in better shape when our oral health is good. All this applies to our pets as much as it does to us.

Every day the warm, moist environment inside our pets’ mouths allows a “biofilm” to form on their teeth. A biofilm is a sticky substance that, like the ‘bio’ suggests, has living organisms in it. These organisms are bacteria and another name for this biofilm is ‘plaque’. The bacteria in this plaque feeds on those things our pets eat. These bacteria live on the teeth and in the pocket between the teeth and the gums. In this area where the bacteria lives there is no air, no oxygen and so these bacteria live in an oxygen deprived environment. The waste products of these bacteria contain sulphur and much like the smell of rotten eggs (which also contain sulphur ) this waste smells bad.

We get rid of this daily plaque by brushing and flossing, our pets do not have the luxury of being able to brush their teeth and remove the daily build up of plaque. Some dogs and cats have the genetics to be able to combat the bacteria that reside in the plaque that sticks to their teeth but the majority lose that battle and end up with breath that is at best smelly and at worst, room-clearing. Oral hygiene for our pets is as important to their health as it is to ours.

Dogs and cats in the wild ‘clean’ their teeth when they hunt. Our pets have it easy in that they do not have to hunt, but the trade off is they produce plaque. To help control this plaque build up, the best is to brush their teeth for them on a daily basis. I said this is the best, often it is not practical. Other options are special foods which brush while our pets chew. Rawhide bones, regular sticks, carrots all do the same. (remember the “Knee Cap Rule” -)  Certain products can be added to the water bowl control the bacteria in the plaque (just like gargling with a mouth wash for us) and some additives even prevent the formation of the biofilm, plaque.

The aim for all these is to prevent the formation of plaque. This is important since plaque holds infective bacteria and plaque will eventually turn into that dreaded brown, black and stinky TARTAR.