Ask the vet: No pearly whites

RACQ, in partnership with Animal Welfare League Queensland, can help solve your pet problems.

RACQ, in partnership with Animal Welfare League Queensland, can help solve your pet problems.

Got a curly problem with your favourite pooch? Is your cat being too catty?

While animals can bring much joy into our lives, they are not always problem free. If there is an animal issue that you need help to solve, send your question to via RACQ to the Animal Welfare League Queensland experts, to find the answer.

No pearly whites

Is there anything else I can do to help with my dog’s teeth and breath? Alvin, our three-year-old beagle has teeth that are quite dirty and smelly. Should I brush his teeth?

AWLQ experts say

Bad breath can be caused by a few things, but dental disease is the most common.

Just like with humans, brushing a dog’s teeth is the best way to keep them clean. This will take a bit of effort on your behalf to get him used to you playing with his mouth and train him to think of brushing time as a good time with treats and affection. There are special pet toothpastes available that are temptingly flavoured and safe to swallow. However if he has a build-up of calculus on his teeth they will first need to be cleaned by your vet. This is because the calculus is very hard and needs to be cracked off then cleaned away with an ultrasonic scaler, especially around the gum line. It is a job that cannot be properly or safely done without an anaesthetic. At the same time the vet can examine the teeth for any other abnormalities that can contribute to his bad breath such as rotten/broken/abnormal teeth, tooth root abscesses, gum recession and root exposure, gum or tongue ulceration, and gingivitis.

Once his teeth are cleaned and fixed up you can focus on keeping them clean. There are various chews and a diet to help slow calculus deposition, but nothing is as good a brushing.

Skin deep

Barry, my nine-year-old beagle has had lumps forming under his skin over the past 12 months. Is this something I should be concerned about?

AWLQ experts say

Many dogs develop lumps and bumps as they get older and mostly they are skin tags or harmless warty growths.

However, it is important to rule out anything nasty that needs to be dealt with either medically or with surgery. Apart from cancerous growths there are many different causes of lumps such as fluid filled hair follicle cysts, raised spots of inflammation with allergies, skin infection with parasites, bacteria or fungus, or hormonally induced changes. The most important thing to do is have a vet look at the lumps. They may then decide to do further tests such as skin samples or needle aspirates, or decide they need to be removed.

What’s your question?

Send your pet questions to and Animal Welfare League Queensland‘s experts will provide the answers. Letters will not receive an individual reply and should be no more than 120 words.

AWLQ work with local councils, state government, rescue groups and the community to improve the outcomes for stray and surrendered pets.