Doggy Bad Breath and Brushing Teeth: Info from a Richmond Pet Dentist


Written By Laurel Douglass, DVM

Remember when your dog was a puppy? Remember that wonderful smell of puppy paw pads and her puppy breath? Unforgettable!


But what’s happened over the years? Why is her breath so bad?

Naturally, without brushing teeth, food particles cling to teeth and develop plaque. If left alone, this film will calcify and turn cement-hard, leaving a yellow-brown hard film over your dogs teeth: plaque. Once plaque forms into tartar (calculus) your pet’s teeth will need a professional cleaning from a Richmond pet dentist to remove the tartar build-up.

February is Pet Dental Health Month. It’s the perfect time to remind pet owners how important dental health is and how to schedule a dental cleaning if you see yellow-brown hard film over your dogs teeth.

What to Expect During Your Pet’s Dental Cleaning

Dental cleaning, also known as prophylaxis, does require anesthesia, so Embrace Veterinary Care will perform a pre-anesthetic exam and blood work prior to the procedure day. Performing blood work screens for diseases that could cause anesthetic complications. In particular, the liver and kidneys are assessed since they break down and eliminate anesthetic medications. Patient examination allows your veterinarian to customize the safest anesthetic and pain-management plan for your pet and his needs. As per the American Animal Hospital Association, “Your pet must be anesthetized to allow thorough evaluation of his mouth, clean his teeth above and below the gumline, and treat painful dental conditions.”

What You Can Do After a Dental Cleaning to Keep Your Dog’s Breath Fresh and Teeth

Develop a healthy daily habit of brushing your dog’s teeth! The act of brushing decreases plaque development and keeps the breath fresh. The more often you brush her teeth, the better! I recommend keeping your dog’s doggy toothpaste and brush near yours in the bathroom. Then, either before or after your own nightly routine, you will be reminded to brush your pet’s teeth.

Its important to buy toothpaste made specifically for dogs because human toothpaste contains ingredients, such as xylitol, that are toxic to dogs. Dog toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors ranging from chicken or peanut butter flavor, and dogs can learn to like the flavor. Also, many dog toothpastes are enzymatic, which means that they have properties (enzymes) that help reduce bacteria, limit tartar buildup, and improve bad breath. When brushing your dogs teeth, you should use a toothbrush made especially for dogs or a brush that fits over your fingertip.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) has a complete list of approved oral health products as well as additional information regarding periodontal disease.

Seek Assistance from a Pet Dentist in Richmond

The benefits of brushing your dog’s teeth are wide-ranging and include preventing chronic inflammation and potential organ damage and decreasing pain from loose teeth and bleeding gums. If you have any questions about brushing your dogs teeth, ask your veterinary team at Embrace Veterinary Care




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