Small Dog, Big (Bad) Breath
“When Bailey opens her mouth, she pollutes the air.” Bailey is one of the miniature dachshunds that live with my parents, and my mom has learned to be quite descriptive about her breath. Her brother of the same litter has distinctly better breath, and not simply because he recently had his teeth cleaned at the vet.
Bailey is easily five pounds smaller than Bill, who would actually qualify as a “tweenie” (in between a standard and miniature dachshund), and has always had the stinkier mouth. Of all the dogs my family has ever rescued, these are the first small dogs and by far the smelliest and most complicated when it comes to oral hygiene.
Reasons why small dogs may have bad breath
Small breed dogs are known for dental problems, whether it is the need for more frequent dental work-ups at the vet or needing teeth pulled because they are rotting away. There are several explanations for this:
A Small Oral Cavity
When larger dogs were bred down to the smaller breeds we have now, the dogs’ skulls shrank but the amount of teeth stayed the same. This caused overcrowding of the teeth in the mouth.
Bad breeding (in terms of parents’ genetics, not in terms of pure bred dogs vs mixed breed) can cause a jumble of health problems in any dog, teeth being just one. Just like in humans, if the parents have bad teeth, chances are the child will have bad teeth, as well.
A dog’s food can do wonders for the dog’s health in many ways, including dental health. A high quality food that includes the nutrients the dog needs and none of the additives and ingredients the dog doesn’t need will insure the best dental health. Chewing also strengthens a dog’s jaw and gives a tooth-brushing effect when done with high quality chew treats and toys.
My family doesn’t know anything about Bailey’s breeding because she was a rescue from a shelter. She has a very tiny mouth as she is only ten pounds and so she can only eat small kibble and small chew treats. Not to mention, she would rather nest on her treats in order to taunt and tease Bill once he is done with his. While the whole scene can be entertaining, we know that if Bailey would just chew the treat it would help her contaminated little mouth.
How to remedy your dog’s bad breath
Luckily, there is about as much out there for your dog’s dental health as there is for your own.
In almost any pet store you can find toothbrushes of different sizes and toothpastes of different flavors. There are even dental wipes, which I find to be easier to use in tiny mouths than a clunky toothbrush. If you need extra help and preventative care, pet stores also sell clean mouth gels and washes or even water additives.
Regular vet checkups include looking at the dog’s teeth. The vet may clean the teeth or instruct you on how to do it. It’s just one more reason why regular veterinary care is important to your dog.
Just like we go to the dentist, Bailey will soon go to the “doggy dentist.” To thoroughly clean your dog’s teeth, the veterinarian puts your dog under anesthesia and scrapes away the tartar and build up along the gum line and across the teeth. Many small dogs inevitably have teeth pulled during these visits due to rotting and decay. With superior preventative care, however, that can be avoided.
Treats and Toys
There are dozens of treats and chews specially formulated to fight tartar, “brush” your dog’s teeth, or freshen breath. For example, check out the Dog Breath Dental Treats on Doggyloot.
While my family may joke about bad dog breath, we do our best to keep the little mouths of the family healthy. As with any medical issue regarding your pet, if you are unsure about a product or situation or have any specific questions, you should always consult your veterinarian.