Dear Labby on Doggie Breath

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Dear Labby

Dear Labby

Dear Labby:

Everyone says their dog has smelly breath, but what’s your opinion on dog teeth cleaning? When should the procedure be considered? Do some dogs have weak teeth/gums? I’m sure diet and lack of natural teeth cleaning options affect tooth/gum health. Does it cause bad breath in dogs? Besides having the Vet assess the health of the teeth, are there things we should monitor to determine whether the procedure is required? What are the typical signs of poor tooth health?

Thanks, Dear Labby – I LOVE reading your column,  SharpTeeth

NOTE: Dear Labby is on vacation this week, stepping in for her as a guest adviser is Christy Newland, VP of Marketing from PDx BioTech.

Dear Sharp Teeth,

When it comes to a professional teeth cleaning at your veterinarian’s office, remember:  Painful periodontal infection can’t be seen by looking in your dog’s mouth.  60% of the tooth structures are under the gums – making periodontal disease impossible to detect in an awake exam by your vet. In addition, new unpublished research shows that 22% of puppies under the age of one already experience bone loss; and that number goes up to 53% at age two, and then 85% by age three. (*Upcoming Proceedings of the 27th Annual Veterinary Dental Forum, New Orleans, LA, October, 2013.)

That means that healthy-looking, sparkling teeth often disguise painful periodontal disease lurking under the gums.  And unfortunately, by the time you see the signs of periodontal disease (inflamed, bleeding gums) or worse, smell that “doggie breath,” the disease has already progressed to the point that it can be irreversible.  Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to bone and tooth loss, heart, liver and kidney disease, shortening your pet’s life expectancy.

What’s a loving pet parent to do?  First, talk to your veterinarian, and find out how often she thinks you should have that anesthetized dental cleaning.  Many dog owners are afraid of that anesthetized cleaning – but the dangers of not having the procedure far outweigh the incidence of harm caused by anesthesia.  Ask your vet to explain her anesthesia procedure to you.  Knowledge is power.

Second, there is now a diagnostic test called OraStrip® QuickCheck Canine that actually detects periodontal disease in the exam room with objective results, so that you can find out if your dog has this serious and widely-prevalent disease. You can visit for more information about OraStrip®.

How about you – what shape our your dogs teeth in? Do you have any additional advice for Sharp Teeth?

Next week Labby is back and answers a readers question about living with and working with a fearful dog.


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  1. Congrats! You’re a Park Day Bingo winner…please email Gizmo’s mom with your shipping info
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Park Day Bingo…The Winners!My Profile

  2. Good advice! Mom is all over that orastrip from Blogpaws and we are meeting with one of the vets from Blogpaws that is in Minneapolis hopefully later this month. Just like in people, the mouth is a place that needs to stay healthy!
    emma recently posted…Lilacs | GBGV | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • I know – we’ve been a bit negligent, so we have to get on top of it – especially since our guys are seniors!
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby on Doggie BreathMy Profile

  3. Good tips!

    When we adopted Tavish, he had to have 8 teeth removed pretty much right away. Better to do a little up front care and take care of it!
    Pup Fan recently posted…Caption this dog: Judgy dog stare!My Profile

  4. I love the answer to this question and definitely agree 🙂 I still think it’s pretty easy to tell who’s got periodontal disease by looking, but I know there are lots of things below the gums that doctors can’t see. That’s why x-rays are so great and now the orastrips sound like a great tool too.
    Ann “Paws” Staub recently posted…Hobo Hudson is The Richest Dog in Town | A Book ReviewMy Profile

    • When our OraStrip team attended BlogPaws 2013, we met so many wonderful, devoted pet parents. All of our BlogPaws friends were so dedicated to maintaining their pets’ oral health. Every owner who allowed us to OraStrip test his or her dog was astonished at how little you can actually tell by looking in the dog’s mouth, as opposed to the test score received by using the OraStrip test. I cannot stress enough how much the visual awake exam in your veterinarian’s office misses – and how critical it is to add the AAHA-recommended OraStrip test to your veterinarian’s wellness exam every time you visit.

      Wags – and here’s to a lifetime of good oral health for your dog!

      Christy Newland
      PDx BioTech
      The makers of OraStrip QuickCheck Canine

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