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UArizona researchers develop bacteria strain to battle bad breath in dogs

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PHOENIX — Two University of Arizona associate professors have developed a way to quell bad breath in dogs, the school announced last week.

A harmless bacteria strain produces a minty aroma that improves dogs’ breath when administered orally, inventor Eric Lyons and co-inventor David Baltrus said in a press release.

Lyons said the bacteria will remain for about two hours, and could be easy to administer when incorporated into specially formulated treats, chews and food for dogs.

The inventors, both associate professors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Plant Sciences, want even longer relief for dog owners.

“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,” Lyons said.

The product is now in trials while the team is working with industry partners to develop methods to integrate the bacteria into existing pet foods and snacks, according to the release.

“We hope that future trials can help transition the product from an additive that only cures bad breath in pet animals into one that can prevent tooth decay and other oral maladies,” Lyons said.

The two inventors co-founded uPetsia to commercialize the product with help from the school’s commercialization office, which provides funding to develop the technology as well as mentorship and coaching for the startup team.

Lyons and business development professional Scott Zentack came up with the idea to conquer bad breath in dogs – known as “canine halitosis” – while sitting around a campfire with their dogs.

“We figured that with all the knowledge available to scientists, we’re now able to modify bacteria in the lab, why couldn’t we make a bacterium that makes dog breath smell better?” recalled Lyons, who manages large research projects at the university’s BIO5 Institute, including a $115 million program that applies computational systems to biological research.

Lyons and Baltrus screened hundreds of bacteria in the mouth of dogs and found 20 that were harmless and easy to modify, according to the release, leading to the creation of uPetsia.

While currently only meant for dogs, Lyons and his team are thinking about expanding the technology to other pets.

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