We rescued our golden labs – a six-year-old brother and sister – three months ago, and they are great fun, and just the best. However, they have horrible breath. Despite giving them a ‘greenie’ a day, it is still bad. We know and have kept other dogs and have never had complaints, like we have with Cookie and Clancy. We do not feed them junk food or food from the table. Our vet is stumped too. Do you have any ideas?
— Jo and Doug, Yorkville, Illinois
Dear Jo and Doug,
Bad breath can be a sign of several diseases, from stomach problems to diabetes and kidney disease, but the main culprit is often poor oral hygiene. In fact, periodontal disease may be seen in dogs and cats as young as three years old.
Have Cookie and Clancy’s teeth cleaned, and then brush their teeth a few times a week with a toothbrush and doggie toothpaste to reduce tartar and plaque build-up. There also are some great products like dental chews, breathe fresheners (sprays and treat bites), even some probiotics that can help maintain good oral hygiene. You can go old school and give them carrots, since it can help reduce plaque build-up, and add some chopped parsley to their food to freshen their breath.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal