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Lip Disease, Tooth Infection Among Bad Breath Causes

April 05, 1990|DR. GLENN ERICSON | Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is immediate past president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn

Q: Hansel is our 5-year-old cocker spaniel, and she has developed very bad breath. I have looked at her teeth and they seem to be fairly clean. We haven't changed her food, and she doesn't seem to be sick. We have tried flavored dog treats and breath fresheners, but they only help for a short time. Could there be something caught in her throat that is causing this to happen?

Mrs. Arlene Hansen, Anaheim

A: Halitosis can result from a variety of causes. The most common cause is dental disease or tooth infection.

Because your dog's teeth seem to be all right and she is eating, we need to look for another cause. And because she isn't coughing or choking, it doesn't seem likely that she has something caught in her throat.

Cockers as well as other dogs with large lip folds tend to develop infections around the lips in between the folds of the mouth. I would recommend that you have Hansel examined by your veterinarian to have the skin around the mouth checked. If she does have such an infection, it will be necessary to trim the hair from the muzzle and folds and use a gentle antibacterial cleaning solution to help dry up the moisture that generally starts this condition. In most cases, treatment with antibiotics and topical solutions will take care of the problem.

In some dogs, it may be necessary to surgically reduce the size of the skin folds to keep the infection from returning. This can be a difficult area to treat but persistance will pay off. If the condition is very severe or non-responsive to medication, it may be necessary to take a skin biopsy and special blood tests to determine if there is an immune-related disease.

Q: What is the easiest way to give a miniature poodle pills I try to put it in the back of his mouth, but he seems to be able to hold it and spit it up later. I've tried to hide it in food, but he eats around it.

Kathy Vernor, Santa Ana

A: Giving your dog his tablet directly into the back of his mouth is the best and surest way to make sure he gets his medication. You need to tilt his head back and then gently open his mouth with your other hand. Gently squeeze his upper lips in so that he won't close his mouth on his lips. You can put some butter on the tablet and drop it into the back of his mouth. Close his mouth and hold him until you see him swallow. Sometimes, giving him a little bit of water after the tablet will make sure he swallows his medication.

If he struggles or becomes difficult to handle when giving the tablet, try putting the pill in peanut butter or cheese and give it to him as a treat. You may also want to ask your veterinarian if the medication comes in a liquid form, which is often easier to administer.

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