Having your dog lick your face is all sorts of adorable until you realize his breath completely reeks. You might push your pup aside and assume the smell is totally harmless (too much liver-flavored dog biscuits, per usual?), but that's not necessarily the case — it may be a sign of a more serious condition that could shorten your pet's life.
The plaque and tartar that builds up on your dog's teeth and causes smelly breath can lead to dental disease, the most common — and completely preventable — disease in cats and dogs. According to the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), gum disease can result in infection in the bone surrounding the teeth, loose and lost teeth, and, in severe cases, damage to the kidney, heart muscle, and liver. Fortunately, keeping your pooch's mouth disease- and stench-free is easier than you think.
Longtime pet owner Candace Cameron Bure, who's reprising her role as the beloved DJ Tanner in Netflix's new series Fuller House, is partnering with Banfield Pet Hospital for the release of their new scratch-and-sniff children's book, My Very, Very Smelly Breath. As an on-screen veterinarian and all-around pet lover, who better to teach everyone about the importance of pet dental health than Dr. Tanner herself? (Sorry — sappy background music not included.)
Between the pets she grew up with and her family's new 11-month-old Rottweiler named Boris, Cameron Bure knows a thing or two when it comes to the importance of animal dental hygiene, so we caught up with her for some tips. If this busy actress and mother of three can find time to brush her dog's teeth, so can you.
Why did you decide to become involved with Banfield Pet Hospital to help spread the word about pet dental health?
I've had five dogs throughout my life. Our newest baby is Boris, and he's gigantic. This was a good way for me to brush up on my skills and remind people how to take care of their pets' mouths to prevent dental disease.
We've gotta ask — who's in charge of keeping up with Boris' dental hygiene in your household?
I have to give props to my husband because he does most of the dental work with our dog. It's important, and we've always scheduled our pets to have their teeth cleaned once or twice a year. Their lives aren't that long, so when your pet is a part of your family, you want to give them the best — and longest — life possible.
What's your advice on how to get kids involved in the process?
Sometimes my kids have no choice — this is teamwork! Everyone wants a pet, then when it comes down to actually taking care of it, everyone gets lazy. Since my kids are older, it's easy for them to feed him and give him treats. Even if it's not doing the actual teeth brushing, there are always easy ways for kids to help out no matter how old they are. Oh, and there's cleaning up after the dog, too — that's a job I love handing over to my kids.
What's your advice for getting dogs used to having their teeth brushed?
When I got to be a guest vet at Banfield Pet Hospital, I learned as long as your dog can associate getting a treat with the toothbrush, then they'll look forward to getting their teeth brushed. You don't have to brush your dog's teeth for long — just a little each day to get them used to it.
What's your favorite treat to bribe your dog with?
Greenies are good ones! They remove plaque the way toothbrushes do, so it's the perfect treat.
What's the most important thing you've learned throughout your time working with the Banfield Pet Hospital?
The most important thing I've learned is that pet hygiene is pretty basic and easy and anyone can do it. It's simple preventative care that helps you out when you go to the vet — you'll get good reports back if you put in a little effort each day.
You're great at keeping Boris healthy. Does he do the same for you and your family?
He keeps me physically healthy because I have to go walk him. He's 130 pounds, and if he doesn't go out twice a day, he'll destroy my home. He also keeps our family active, and those outings with him become quality time — I love that. But when you have a friendly face to greet you at the door? That's the best part of having a pet. You always have someone who's happy to see you and cuddle with you when you get home.