LOS ANGELES: Dogs and cats can't brush, spit, gargle or floss on their own. So owners who want to avoid bad pet breath will need to lend a hand.
"Brushing is the gold standard for good oral hygiene at home. It is very effective, but some dogs and more cats don't appreciate having something in their mouth," said Dr. Colin Harvey, a professor of surgery and dentistry in the Department of Clinical Studies for the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.
The bulk of bad breath odor — the trademark rotten egg smell — comes from hydrogen sulfide, which is waste from anaerobic bacteria that thrive without oxygen in places like gaps between teeth and gums. Plaque buildup also invites the bacteria and as the accumulation grows, so does the smell.
Animal shelters and rescues know bad breath and filthy teeth can be a deal breaker. Some shelters, such as the Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County in Florida, shuffle their charges through a dental health program before the animals are adopted out.
"We usually do dental cleanings and extractions when animals are spayed or neutered so the animal doesn't have to be put under anesthesia again after adoption and the adopter has one less thing to worry about," said Janet Winikoff, the shelter's director of education.
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