Dog’S Bad Breath Could Signal Underlying Illness

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DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My dog has such terrible bad breath. How can I improve this? — Beth in Rhode Island

DEAR BETH: Take your dog to the veterinarian to be checked out, especially if the bad breath just started or just got worse in recent days or weeks. Sometimes bad breath is just a hygiene issue, but it also can signal an underlying illness that might not have any other symptoms.

If your dog is diagnosed with an illness, follow your vet’s instructions on care. Give it prescribed medication if needed and feed any diet that’s recommended.

Provided your dog checks out health-wise, your vet may recommend that it get a professional cleaning to remove plaque and improve overall dental health. In between cleanings, you should brush your dog’s teeth regularly using a brush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs. You can purchase these from the vet or at any pet supply store.

Diet also may play a role in your dog’s breath. Try different types of dog food or add variety to its diet with fresh foods and homemade treats a few times a week. Keep in mind that dogs can’t eat all the same foods that we humans do — like chocolate and onions, which are poison to them — so look for dog recipe books at your local bookstore or online for pet-safe ingredients.

Finally, chewing is important to a dog’s oral health. Make sure that plenty of chew toys are available, which strengthen the jaw and teeth and also, in some cases, help to keep teeth clean.

Send your pet questions and tips to ask@pawscorner.com, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Find more pet advice and resources at www.pawscorner.com.

© 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.

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