A Fetching Smile

There are few things that make me happier than sticking my snout in a big bowl of kibble and gobbling down every last crumb. The problem? Bad breath. All that crunching without proper dental care can create a mouthful of problems. And let’s face it: nothing ruins a cuddle with your canine like a blast of bad breath.

Doggie halitosis is one of the worst things a dog can have, and it is often a telltale sign of gum disease. That stench coming from your dog’s mouth means there’s a colony of disease-causing bacteria living and thriving inside its muzzle. Not only does it lead to dental pain and tooth decay, but it can also spread to other parts of the body, causing inflammation, sickness and even death.

Diet can also cause that stinky smell, especially if your dog feasts on trash, table scraps and animal feces. While bad breath can indicate a more serious illness, the main culprit is usually poor dental hygiene.

Daily brushing is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your dog’s dental health. It’s true: few dogs will step up to the sink for a good tooth scrubbing, but the few seconds a day it takes to whisk a brush across its pearly whites will pay off in better health—and sweeter kisses.

One of the leading benefits of brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is that you can catch dental problems early. Most dogs are good at hiding pain, which includes any discomfort they may be having in their mouth. By brushing your dog’s teeth every day, you’re preventing harmful buildup from developing and giving yourself an opportunity to spot any changes early on.

An important truth to note is that smaller dogs and pups with flat or short broad snouts often require more frequent brushings. Because their mouths are smaller, these dogs’ teeth are more crowded. They are more prone to plaque buildup and thus more likely to develop periodontal disease.

Toothbrush-wise, a good rule of thumb is that gentler is better. Find a brush that fits comfortably in your dog’s mouth and is soft enough not to irritate its gums. You’ll also need specialized toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste, baking soda or salt, as it could be harmful if your dog swallows it. Doggy toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors, from vanilla mint to peanut butter and even liver. Go with what you imagine your dog will like.

While regular brushing is your first line of defense against bad breath and gum disease, there are other ways to help clean your canine’s choppers:


Chew toys

Gnawing on chew toys can rasp away tarter while massaging dogs’ gums and keeping their teeth strong.


Dental chews

These treats help clean teeth, remove debris and freshen breath. Products with the VOHC-approved stamp are recommended.


Water additives

This oral care solution helps tackle bacteria, reduce plaque and freshen breath.


Dental hygiene is just as important to your dog’s overall health as nutrition, exercise and grooming. Following a dental care routine not only helps produce a winning smile, fresh breath and happy gums, but it also contributes to a longer, healthier life.