How to Freshen Your Pet’s Breath

Experts warn that your pet's bad breath may not just be a pesky problem.

By Lucia Raatma from Reader's Digest | January 2006

Your pet’s bad breath may be more than just an annoyance, warns Alexander Reiter, DVM, of the American Veterinary Dental College. “Ninety-five percent of the time, a dog’s or cat’s bad breath is due to periodontal disease.” The condition can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to many diseases. Worried about your pet’s breath?

Bad breath may be more than just an annoyance.Dorling Kindersley/DKImages/Getty ImagesBad breath may be more than just an annoyance.

1. Don’t be fooled. Treats and rinses in pet stores that claim to help bad breath seldom do. They just mask the symptoms. If your groomer offers dental services, make sure he uses a brush, not a sharp tool, to clean teeth. Only a vet should do dental surgery.

2. See your vet. She may recommend a cleaning, under general anesthesia, to remove tartar and plaque, and repair teeth.

3. Get out the brush. Yes, you really need to brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth. Your vet can show you how. Don’t use human toothpaste with baking soda or fluoride (swallowing these ingredients may be harmful).

4. Look for the seal. The Veterinary Oral Health Council approves some pet products. Use those with a VOHC seal.