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Dog Breath May Mean Bigger Trouble for Pets

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By Tom Flanigan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-883375.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – If your pet has bad breath, it may signal a much bigger health problem. A noted veterinarian says pet periodontal disease is especially widespread in Florida.

Even if your pets seem healthy, Dr. Karen Johnson with Banfield Pet Hospitals says chances are good they're not.

"Over eighty-three percent of dogs and eighty-percent of cats have dental disease."

She says the disease, at least in its early stages, is hard for pet owners to see, although persistent bad breath does give it away. If left untreated, she says the nasty periodontal bacteria can cause trouble elsewhere.

"That constantly enters the bloodstream, which then is an insult to the kidneys and liver, and research shows that bad teeth over time can lead to heart disease."

She says smaller dogs, a popular pet for many older Floridians, are especially susceptible. As for treatment, owners should brush their pet's teeth at least once a week and have a veterinarian do a thorough cleaning at least twice a year.