Cocker Spaniels/Bad Breath


QUESTION: Our Cocker Spaniel is 1 year old and we have had her for 3 months. She has terrible breath and when we got her she had some plaque on 4 of her molars. The vet said it wasn't bad enough to have them cleaned yet, but she has some gum bleeding when I brush her teeth. We feed her Wellness dry food. Is this unusual that she would have plaque and bad breath at such a young age? It seems to me that her mouth is kind of dry too. Any suggestions?

ANSWER: Ed, are you brushing her teeth with a soft/medium brush?  Every day?  Sometimes we think a "good hard bristle" is better but it's really not.  Are you using an enzymatic toothpaste?  A human toothbrush is fine.  CET is the best toothpaste (Amazon carries it).

Highly unusual for her to have plaque at her age.  I'd suggest switching to wet food.  The pet food companies like to promote the total myth that kibble is somehow good for their teeth.
It certainly is not.

I'd also like to know if she's a good drinker? (1 oz. per lb daily)  And is there a vet dentist/oral surgeon in your area?

If there's any infection you can at times beat it back with twice a day brushing.  Her gums should be a healthy pink with no trace of swelling anywhere.  Take a good look at her lips and inside her chops.  Does she ever rub her mouth against anything...or scratch it?

I'm wondering about some yeast so that info will be helpful.  If she's not drinking enough, I can help with that too.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Our Cocker does not drink 1oz. per lb. daily, maybe half that and no, there is not a vet dentist/oral surgeon in my area. We are 50 miles from Purdue University Vetrinarian school.I use Sentry Petrodex Enzymatic toothpaste.Her gums are not swollen but they do bleed a little when brushed with a soft tooth brush. I haven't noticed her itching her mouth. What wet food would you recommend? Thanks for your help.

Ed, I don't know what the "budget" is for your dog.  But bleeding gums is an indication of problems.

So let's do this.  Try brushing twice daily..but softly..don't aggravate the gums. the fluid intake.  Get some low sodum chicken broth...add 1 tbsp. to 1/2 cup water and heat in microwave for maybe 15 second (warm but not hot..test it) and try getting her to drink more.

I also suggest getting a small container with half water/half plain white vinegar.  Using a small cloth, dip it in...squeeze out..and wipe her teeth & gums with that daily.

Re wet food I like Innova.  If you're willing to home cook...I'm available.  Fresh, real food is far preferable to processed.

Cocker Spaniels

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Delores Beck


Health, nutrition, training. Please note: I used to highly recommend Innova products but, unfortunately, as with Canidae, they have sold out to Proctor & Gamble. This guarantees lower quality to a dangerous point so I will no longer be advising anyone to buy it.


20 years of owning this breed.

Psychology, MA

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