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Old dogs' quality of life - what do you do?

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  • Old dogs' quality of life - what do you do?

    My Std poodle is 13 and still in good shape. I walk her almost everyday, and she still displays bursts of puppy-dog behavior (i.e, running around like a lunatic).

    She is blind in one eye, and very hard of hearing, so now I have to put her on the leash a lot more than I used to, but the worst problem is...

    her breath.

    She stinks!!

    I've tried the "greenies" treats but I didn't smell much difference, and they seem to make her sick. She's always had a sensitive tummy.

    She gets a can of wet food in the am and all the dry food she wants. She's picky and never over-eats.

    She is not on any supplement, but maybe it is time to start...

    So, what do you do when your dog has bad breath?
    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!

  • #2
    Take her to the vet for a thorough oral exam, dental cleaning, and possibly some tooth extraction if she has such bad breath and hasn't had regular dental cleaning.
    "Another member of the Barefoot Eventers Clique"


    • #3
      My old dog has bad breath but isn't a candidate for sedation for cleaning (the vet determined this). She also has a broken tooth that the vet would love to get out of there if she's ever sedated for anything else (unlikely). Once every year or two she gets a course of antibiotics which takes care of the bad breath for a while. I promise with my next dog, I'll take better care of her teeth earlier in life!


      • Original Poster

        She was just recently checked by a vet, he didn't think anything was amiss, other than old age...maybe I should get a second opinion.
        Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


        • #5
          I've never met a standard poodle with GOOD breath, but I haven't met all that many standard poodles. Maybe they all have it and yours is just normal? :-)


          • #6
            I agree with the 2nd opinion idea.

            My aged rat terrier had such bad teeth and my vet believed he was in pain. OTOH, not a good candidate for sedation (heart murmur).

            I don't think this applies in your dog's case, but I decided to go ahead with the dental and if he didn't survive the sedation, so be it. He did survive and is still here 2 years later.


            • #7

              I had this very problem with my Sheltie. She had regular cleanings every 5 or so years but is now a much more senior dog and don't want her sedated. She is 15 going on 16 and still beautiful though a little more gray. What I do with her is brush her teeth. She is an excellent old gal, and she sits there and takes it but she doesn't like it one bit. What I do is use a tiny amount of little kid toothpaste, and soak the toothbrush in scope. The I brush all her little mouth, and resoak and reapply toothpaste as needed. Again, I use very little. It does not froth at all. I brush her teeth twice a day, and her breath is great. At first her gums would bleed a little but they don't anymore.

              I have also started brushing all our dogs teeth, with the hopes of keeping them healthier. The aussie and the corgi HATE it. They put up with me but they hate it, so I do them once a day. We also have three LGDs and I do them once a week. They don't mind much at all.

              I know it sounds silly, and I assure you I am not a crazy tree hugger, but it has helped my old lady with her stinkyness and I don't imagine it hurts the others. Yes , each dog has his or her own toothbrush :-)

              Typing it makes me sounds kooky, but promise they are all good working farm dogs.


              • #8
                Go to the vet! We had a dog in the family with a skin condition that had bad breath as a symptom and right now are busy throwing out the couch and contemplating the carpet next. The doggie smell got into everything and although the medication isn't cheap neither is new carpet and a couch.

                Scuse - get a second opinion - although brushing dogs' teeth could work quite well, my elderly mom can't brush well and I set down and brush hers for her and it really makes a difference!
                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                Incredible Invisible


                • #9
                  I agree with the dental check up/ second opinion, but also like large raw meaty bones for helping keep teeth clean and breath fresh.


                  • #10
                    I old dog had terrible breath too. I finally figured out it was the fish oil pills we gave her. She would NOT put up with having her teeth cleaned.

                    I remember seeing a product that you could put in the water and it helped clean their teeth. There was also something you could wipe on the teeth. I have no idea if these work though.

                    My current dog has a elk antler that keeps his teeth clean. He also gets sweet potato chews (not the ones from china) that have a similar consistency to greenies but the only ingredient is sweet potatoes. They are called Sam's Yams and SmartPak carries them. They will probably be alot easier on her stomach than the greenies.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks for all the replies! I think I'll ask my vet to go ahead and clean her teeth thoroughly anyway. I don't like the idea of general anesthesia but she should be able to take it, she's in good health overall...
                      I just can't see myself brushing her teeth 2x a day...Nope, won't happen. lol

                      I know a good, big raw bone would be ideal, but I worry about her ingesting parts of it. It doesn't take much for her to get sick. Just a tiny bit of hoof shavings after the farrier's visit will do it!
                      I'll look into those sweet potato chews.
                      Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                      • #12
                        Just to put it out there - clean teeth doesnt always mean better breath. It CAN help for sure, but often times it doesnt unless there is an abcessed tooth or infection going on.

                        Kidney disease can cause a foul odor to the breath.

                        My old girl has stinky breath, her teeth are fine and so are her kidneys. My gramma has bad breath too. I refrain from letting either kiss me.


                        • #13
                          A bad odor from the mouth is probably dirty teeth- can't you just look at them see if they are dirty vs. sparkly white, or if the gums look inflamed or something? if you don't want to brush, there are many options- chews, sprays, vet cleaning.
                          Other causes of foul odors near the mouth are sinus infections, ear infections, abscesses in the skin, and metabolic problems like kidney or liver disease, or even diabetes.
                          bottom line it's NOT just "old age" it's something unhealthy and specific that needs to be identified and addressed.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by wendy View Post
                            A bad odor from the mouth is probably dirty teeth- can't you just look at them see if they are dirty vs. sparkly white, or if the gums look inflamed or something? if you don't want to brush, there are many options- chews, sprays, vet cleaning.
                            Other causes of foul odors near the mouth are sinus infections, ear infections, abscesses in the skin, and metabolic problems like kidney or liver disease, or even diabetes.
                            bottom line it's NOT just "old age" it's something unhealthy and specific that needs to be identified and addressed.
                            Old age yes, can cause bad breath. As we age, epithelium dies off quicker and does not regnerate as well as the younger. This includes mucous membranes, often causing smell, inflammation etc. Fermentation time also changes as we age...probiotics can sometimes help, but its an ageing process of all creatures.

                            However, saying that, yes there are many other causes. Other than routine blood testing and general mouth exam you could go hunting for years before finding a sourse (if you even find one).

                            Clean teeth are great, Im not suggesting you dont clean them. However what I was saying is that simply cleaning plaque off teeth may not resolve a stinky breath problem. If there is a decaying tooth, abcess etc. than that absolutley will contribute to bad breath. Generally with a sinus problem you are going to see other signs accompany bad breath. With organ failure, you would have likely picked this up on bloodwork.

                            If your poodle also has any long fur around its mouth, the tanglement of fur around the teeth can cause an awful smell (ever pulled a hair clot out of the bathroom??).


                            • #15
                              I agree with the second opinion for the teeth...

                              And old age is not a reason not to sedate or address the teeth. With careful attention to the drugs/monitoring used, even with heart murmurs (common in old dogs) they can be safely anesthetized.

                              Veterinary patients are so good at hiding pain/discomfort, that often we don't realize how much bad teeth are bothering them, until they are fixed and at the two week recheck, they're like different animals!


                              • #16
                                I would get a second opinion, too. If her teeth are nasty it can not only make her breath stink but do physical damage as well. She could be swallowing nasty bacteria every single time she swallows.
                                You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


                                • #17
                                  The only caution is that the dental cleaning itself can release a lot of bad bacteria into the blood stream/system --does one ever use antibiotics on dogs prohylactically before cleaning like you do on humans with certain issues? (Like folks with replaced joints can end up with joint infections and people with murmurs can end up with bacterial heart infections etc.)


                                  • #18
                                    omare, yes. Sometimes there is a pre med w/abx prior to a prophy in some cases just like in human cases. I've worked in both fields.

                                    If good blood work is done ahead of time to look at organ function and a safe gas anesthetic like isofluorane is used while being monitored, the risk of the prophy procedure is less than the risk of bad teeth IMHO. BUt I'm not a vet.
                                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                    • #19
                                      On the teeth brushing idea as well... both my dogs love the toothpaste I use on them; it's vanilla mint so it smells good for humans, but the dogs love the taste. You can also get the little finger brushes that are soft rubber and have little nubs, which are easier to brush with than a normal toothbrush.
                                      "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

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