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Don't overlook your pets this holiday season

By – Bad Breath Expert
Posted: December 29, 2014, Updated: April 5, 2016
SUMMARY: Whether you're cooking for just your closest ones or the extended family this holiday season, make sure your dog's breath doesn't foul up the party.

Amid all hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it may be easy to leave Fido out to dry. You may dress your dog up with antlers, but don't let his health go unnoticed - especially don't wait until his bad breath falls under Santa's naughty column. 

For many owners, dogs are more than a pet, they're a member of the family. We take them to the vet and groomers regularly, and spend hundreds of dollars on pet care a year, but we often forget about their oral health. If you love your four-legged friend, why not treat his or her health with ample care?

Underlying causes of bad breath
Long-lasting dog breath is a red flag of underlying diseases, such as periodontal disease and diabetes mellitus. 

Also known as advanced gum disease, periodontal disease is the No. 1 disease in dogs and cats. It results from bacteria buildup in the mouth, which is associated with tooth decay, plaque growth and tartar accumulation (tartar is the calcified form of plaque). When you start to see that yellowish film taking hold around the base of a tooth, it's time to see a vet for a checkup. Tartar can grow under the gums, eventually causing the formation of deep pockets where gums pull away from teeth. The result is painful for dogs. 

If the cause of the odor lies in the mouth, you may notice symptoms including inability to eat, pawing at the mouth, loose teeth and excessive drooling. It's best not to let it come to this point.

Holiday gifts for your dog
To help your pooch steer clear of oral health problems, check out these fun gifts:

1. Chew toys: Gnawing on chew toys is an effective exercise for your dog, since it can scrape away soft tartar and massage his or her gums. Search for bone-like treats that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval for dental health. 

2. Sprays to get rid of dog breath: Dr. Katz for Dogs and Cats Oral Spray will alleviate your pet's bad breath at its source. The safe, oxygenating spray is designed specifically for pets and has been recognized by a panel of Veterinary Oral Care experts to effectively reduce plaque and tartar in animals.

3. Raw bones: There are two types of raw bones that are recommended for dogs: edible and recreational bones. Edible bones are the softer, hollow bones that provide calcium, phosphorous and trace minerals while recreational bones are big chunks of beef. Though not meant to be swallowed, recreational bones provide mental stimulation and are good for your dog's oral health. Note: cooked bones are not advised, as they have an increased likelihood for splintering. 

Stay proactive
The ideal way to protect your pooch this holiday season - and throughout the year - is to take care of his or her oral health on a regular basis. Here are a few steps to accomplish this:

1. Brush your dog's teeth. How often do you brush your teeth? Now, how frequently do you brush your dog's teeth? Notice the discrepancy. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, some dogs may exhibit signs of gum disease by the time they are 4 years old due to a lack of routine dental care like brushing. 

2. Take a smell test:  Smell your dog's breath about once a week. Although it's not the most pleasant thing on your to-do list, the quick test may help save you money on routine pet care by addressing any problems before they worse.

3. Check your dog's gums. This is another routine check. If the gums are red, white, swollen or have tartar, schedule an appointment with the vet. 

For this holiday season, maybe throw a gift in your pooch's stocking. 

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only.  Always consult your health care professional before beginning any new therapy.