Your dog loves to give you kisses, and while you appreciate the puppy love, you could do without the stinky breath. So, you switch your dog to dry food. You feed him dental biscuits. You even go through the messy process of brushing his teeth. And yet, you still have hold your breath every time he licks your face. What's going on?
Believe it or not, your dog's breath shouldn't smell, and if it does, it's time to think about your dog's oral health. Certain diseases, like diabetes or kidney disease, may cause bad breath in dogs. But most bad breath, or halitosis, occurs when bacteria infect the gums. If left unchecked, the bacteria can create gum disease or go through the gums into the bloodstream, thereby entering other parts of the body. "Logically, improving the health of your pet's teeth and gums will help eliminate the halitosis associated with bacterial infection," says Dr. Jeffrey Hillman, D.M.D., Ph.D. and chief medical officer for Oragenics. Eliminating bad breath -- and the harmful bacteria that cause it -- begins at home, with a consistent oral health program. But toothbrushing can be irksome for both pet and pet owner, and dental chews can't reach every tooth surface. For this reason, Hillman, who has studied probiotics for 25 years, first at the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Institute in Boston and then at the University of Florida, suggests that pet owners give their pets probiotics, or "good" bacteria.