MALIBU – Jakks Pacific Inc. tackled wrestling figures and played with dolls, but it announced a new, daunting venture Monday: conquering dogs’ stinking breath. Jakks’ pet products division, JPI, will manufacture “White Bites,” doggy treats that both cleanse canine canines and freshen their breath. Though Jakks is a toy-industry powerhouse, with annual sales near $800 million, it sees the lucrative pet-care business as a major growth opportunity. Jeremy Padawer, Jakks’ vice president of brand development, estimates the market for pet oral care will hit half a billion dollars this year. That’s an irresistible target for an executive, but Padawer has another reason to push the company into the breath business. “My very bizarre dog has very bad breath because he’s a street dog,” Padawer said. “He’s like a vacuum cleaner, so when I walk him around, he sucks up just about everything he can get his mouth around. So I was very aware that there was a market out there.” A co-worker confirmed that Padawer’s Bigs, was “a real stinker.” And Sean McGowan, managing director of New York investment bank Harris Nesbitt, said Jakks has bought into a very big industry. It picked up JPI last summer, and though its annual sales in the $10 million range make it a very small part of Jakks’ overall business, McGowan said it could provide much-needed growth as the toy industry struggles to grow its annual revenue. He pointed to the success of Greenies, the breath freshener manufactured by Jakks’ chief rival, S&M NuTec. With Greenies in an unwanted spotlight lately with several lawsuits from pet owners saying their dogs could not digest the products, Jakks is heavily pushing the angle that White Bites are safe and digestible. “Greenies is absolute ‘dognip,’ like crack cocaine for dogs,” McGowan said. “They’re tapping into a heavily addicted market there. This is far afield for them, but it’s not a huge part of their business. And if it works, toy companies need all the revenue they can get.” Chihuahua-miniature pinscher-terrier mix, [email protected] (818) 713-3738 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!