Goals of Treating Bad Breath
The goals of treating halitosis are to identify the cause of the condition and restore the dog’s breath to being free from any unpleasant or otherwise offensive odor.
A thorough oral and throat examination and dental cleaning, under general anesthesia, are often the first steps in diagnosis and treatment. Oral hygiene is becoming increasingly important in domestic dogs, especially as they age. During the procedure, the veterinarian or skilled technician will look for, clean and treat any identifiable ulcers, wounds or other sores and will remove any lodged food debris or foreign material that is found. They also will use dental instruments to remove plaque build-up and thoroughly clean the outer surfaces of, and in between, the teeth. If the dog’s halitosis is caused by something outside of the oral cavity, such as autoimmune disease, diabetes or a liver or kidney disorder, it can only be effectively treated by diagnosing and specifically treating that condition.
Long-term treatment typically includes in-home oral care, to be performed regularly by the dog’s owner in order to reduce plaque and calculus accumulation and decrease inflammation of the gums and other oral tissues. Assorted products are commercially available – some over-the-counter and others from a veterinarian – to help dog owners maintain their pet’s oral hygiene, including dental chews, tooth/gum brushes and dog-flavored toothpastes, gels and rinses. Human toothpastes and other dental products should not be used in dogs, because they are not designed to be swallowed and can contribute to a number of potentially serious problems. Periodic professional dental cleanings may be necessary as well. This is no different than regular visits by people to their dental hygienist for teeth cleaning and polishing.
The outlook for dogs with halitosis depends entirely upon whether the underlying cause of the bad breath can be identified and successfully treated.