I can smell foul breath from my four-year-old pet Jugnu’s mouth. We give her dental chews but have never brushed her teeth. Please advice.

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Just like humans, they need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious disease. Tartar accumulates and eventually the healthy pink gum starts to look red and swell. At this point, without medical intervention, gingivitis or inflammation of the gum takes over. This process leads to bad breath. And worse, it often leads to damage to the jawbones and loss of teeth. Pet parents can lightly brush their dog’s teeth at least twice a week to remove plaque deposits. A child’s nylon toothbrush dipped in toothpaste made for dogs should be used. Do not use tooth pastes made for humans that can cause nausea in dogs if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews (Dentastix) result in a significant reduction of plaque and calculus accumulation, gingivitis and malodour. Dry dog food like pet food also helps prevent dental plaque accumulation. Many people choose ‘bones’ made from rawhide. Rawhide tastes similar to beef which is why dogs find it so irresistible. The downside is these tasty treats can also be hazardous for dogs.

Question by – Sakshi Gopal, Coimbatore

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