'Howl-itosis' a Problem? CALS Inventor Creates Bacteria Strain to Quell Bad Dog Breath

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

University of Arizona researchers have developed a harmless bacteria strain to battle bad breath in our furry friends.

When administered orally, the additive produces a minty aroma that improves dogs' breath, said inventor Eric Lyons, who developed the technology with co-inventor David Baltrus. Both are associate professors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Plant Sciences.

"The applications of the invention are vast," Lyons said. "Our plan is that they will eventually find a home among all sorts of pet treats, food and oral care products."

Other products, such as toothpastes and chew treats, use flavors and scents to cover bad breath. When the harmless bacterial strain Lyons developed enters a dog's mouth, the bacteria remain for about two hours, producing a pleasant smell. The bacteria could be incorporated into specially formulated treats, chews and food for dogs, making them easy to use, Lyons said.

"We're working on improving the duration efficacy of the product up to eight or 12 hours, and we want to develop other scent offerings," he said.

With his background in genomics and genomics evolution, Lyons manages large research projects at the university's BIO5 Institute, including the $115 million CyVerse program, which applies computational systems to biological research.

He and business development professional Scott Zentack – who has engineering and operational experience in various industries and has held corporate leadership positions in sales, marketing and finance – came up with the pet project to conquer canine halitosis while sitting around a campfire with their dogs.

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