We remain open to provide care for your pets. We are following the direction of government and regulatory authorities and have implemented hospital and visit protocols to keep both you and our team safe. For regular updates on our hours and visit protocols, please follow our social media platforms.


Why does my dog’s breath smell?

Bad breath (halitosis) in a dog or cat is usually because of poor dental health.  Occasionally a dog or cat may have good teeth and still have bad breath in which case the diet is usually the cause. This is relatively rare, however, compared to the likelihood of a dental issue.

The process of dental decay in a mouth is a constant and ongoing process that occurs throughout our pets’ lives.  The mouth has excellent defences both in the structure, blood supply and the characteristics of the saliva.  Working against that are bacteria that have evolved to thrive in the mouth.  These bacteria benefit from regular access to food and a consistent environment.  The enamel and gums are resilient, but the bacteria will coat the mouth in a biological film (plaque) that over time calcifies to form tartar.

Tartar is the yellowish substance that adheres to the teeth (colour could also vary from brown, green and grey).  In and of itself it is inactive, but it is a stable source of bacteria that are more resistant to the mouth’s defences.  The most important area for dental disease on a tooth is the pocket between the gums and the tooth known as the sulcus.  Bacteria that grow in this area create inflammation or redness and swelling of the gums known as gingivitis.  Given enough time and inflammation, the gum will recede from the base of the tooth.

Once there has been significant gum recession, the underlying bone into which the tooth is attached will also recede. This exposes the root of the tooth which is not covered in enamel and to which plaque and tartar adhere more easily, accelerating the process.  By this time, most owners will be aware of their dog’s (or cat’s) bad breath. Occasionally the tooth may fall out, but more often the dog will avoid using it and it will continue to decay and become a persistent source of infection and pain.

Ideally, a pet’s teeth should be brushed with an enzymatic toothpaste once daily and the teeth scaled and polished under general anesthetic once every 2-3 years (depending on the speed the tartar returns: different for different breeds and for different individuals).  If no brushing is done, teeth will need to be scaled more frequently.  In the absence of any care, dental disease will progress more rapidly through the course of a pet’s life.  The ongoing dental disease will result in worsening bad breath, a painful mouth and serious impacts on systemic health.

Perhaps just as important however is our tendency to shun an animal with bad dental odour. Dogs are extremely intelligent and have evolved to live with us very closely.  They are much more aware of our moods and how we interact with them than we might expect.  If there is a breakdown in affection and avoidance due to an unpleasant odour, the dog suffers in other aspects.

There is some good news, however.  Even the most severe dental disease and halitosis can be corrected with dental scaling and judicious extraction of diseased teeth.  If a dog has a diseased tooth it is a constant source of pain and infection that the dog avoids using.  By extracting the tooth, the problem is instantly corrected and gums heal incredibly quickly.  Most commercial dog foods (including kibble) do not require extensive chewing to be ingested, so even a dog who has had all teeth extracted rarely has further issues going forward.


Written by Dr. Thompson




Why does my dog’s breath smell?

Bad breath (halitosis) in a dog or cat is usually because of poor dental health.  Occasionally a dog or cat may have good teeth and still have bad breath in which case the diet is usually the cause. This is relatively rare, however, compared to the likelihood of a dental issue.

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COVID-19: Additional measures we are taking

Dear Clients,

Due to the close contact that our work requires, we have taken additional measures to protect you and our team while providing care for your furry family members.

The following changes are effective as of Wednesday, April 1, 2020:

1. We are currently operating a "closed waiting room" policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and use your cell phone to call us at 416-282-6621 (appointments ONLY at this number). We will take a history of your pet from outside of your car, and bring your pet into the clinic for an examination with the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then call you to discuss our recommended treatment plan. After your appointment, a technician will return your pet using social distancing methods. We will be taking payments over the phone, we are no longer taking cash at this time.

2. We are continuing to accept appointments for urgent or sick pets, as well as time-sensitive puppy/kitten vaccinations. All other services will be scheduled for a later time.

3. We are still OPEN with the following hours:
Monday to Friday 9:00 am – 7:30 pm
Saturday 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

4. If you are ordering food or medications, please allow 2-4 business days as our suppliers are dealing with increased demand and are trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. We will advise you as soon as your order arrives. Please call us when you arrive at 416-282-8516 to pick up your order, but do not enter the clinic. Our staff will take payment over the phone by VISA or Mastercard only. So we can ensure social distancing, we will then bring your order out to our green bin in the parking lot. We do have our online store available, which can be accessed from our website by clicking the online store button.

5. For the time being, we are not accepting cash as payment. VISA and Mastercard payments are still available.

6. Online consultations are now available! If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.

7. Following the recommendations of our government and medical experts, we are doing our best to practice social distancing within the constraints of our jobs. We have taken these measures to avoid both contracting and facilitating the spread of this virus.

Thank you for helping us be diligent for everyone's safety. As we have heard from all levels of government, the situation is fluid, and any updates will be provided as changes occur.

Your dedicated team at West Hill Animal Clinic