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Nabisco To Offer Breath-Freshening Milkbones

May 19, 1988

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Does Rover’s breath make you head out the door every time he starts panting? Are you dogged by fears that Aunt Mary will cut you out of her will if your pet pooch tries to lick her face?

Nabisco thinks it has the answer with a new product that combines dog biscuit with breath mint. Others are skeptical, but the company says the minty treats even get the tails wagging on members of its canine test panel.

Nabisco spokesman Mark Gutsche said Thursday that the product, which will debut nationwide by the end of the month, is designed to clean teeth like the standard Milkbone but also should improve a dog’s breath.

″There is a problem with halitosis among dogs,″ Gutsche said. ″This delivers the regular benefits plus the added benefits of mint.″

However, it won’t be like choosing gum flavors of spearmint or peppermint, Gutsche said. Dogs will just eat good-old, generic mint.

Milkbones, a crunchy, bone-shaped dog biscuit, date to 1908, when a New York City man developed the canine snack. Nabisco bought the rights in 1931 and Milkbones became - and remain - the No. 1 seller among pet treats, Gutsche said.

He said dogs’ teeth are cleaned when they eat the biscuits because the hard, abrasive surface takes off plaque that can build up.

About 100 dogs ″on full-time staff″ at Nabisco’s testing center in Sherburne, N.Y., have sampled the new Milkbone and are begging for more, Gutsche said.

″They’ve given it their five-paw rating,″ he said.

Others were skeptical.

″Milkbone is a good product but I don’t think anything will work on a dog’s breath except activated charcoal,″ which absorbs odors, said 45-year veteran veterinarian Harold S. Smith of Milford.

A dog’s diet, which consists primarily of meat, lends itself to bad breath, said Smith, a past president of the New Jersey State Veternarians Association.

″They don’t exactly have the best breath in the world,″ he said. ″There’s no such thing as baby’s breath for a dog.″

″We don’t know what is palatable to the dog,″ Smith added.

Ken Rayner Sr., a retired kennel owner at Markenhaus Manor in Hopewell, said he did not know what’s next for his favorite animal.

″I don’t know why they’d need mint-flavored Milkbones,″ Rayner said. ″I don’t know that it will do anything for their breath.″

And if it does?

″There’s a large amount of people that complain about a dog’s breath,″ Rayner said. ″I was in the business 30-some odd years, and if it works, great.″

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