Do you find that you recoil from your pup when they come in for a cuddle or apologize to guests for the smell? Bad breath is quite common in our canine companions and can be a sign of serious health issues in your pooch. Here, our Benicia vets explain what might be causing your dog's bad breath.
What Makes Dogs Have Bad Breath?
We use the phrase 'dog breath' to describe something a little offputting, and that is that often because our dogs have a little bit of bad breath. While it's completely fine for your pup to have some smell on their breath from eating, playing with toys and daily lifestyle, this smell can sometimes grow into an odor that repels all but the bravest dog owners.
It can be tempting to write it off or just grin and bear the smell, but more often than not the unpleasant smell of your dog's breath is actually a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing the smell. There are a number of different possible causes of bad breath in your dog, but the most common are kidney disease, liver disease and oral health issues.
If your dog's bad breath smells of feces or urine, it could be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is behavior that requires addressing regardless) or a symptom of kidney issues.
If your dog's kidneys aren't working properly to filter and process toxins and waste materials, their buildup in the pup's body may be contributing to the bad smell of their breath on top of harming your dog's health! This is a serious condition that requires veterinary care, so don't hesitate to make an appointment.
If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their new odor is accompanied by concerning symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, liver disease could be the root cause of their symptoms.
Oral Health Issues
Oral health issues is an umbrella term referring to a number of conditions ranging from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. As the most common cause of bad breath in dogs, the culprit is usually bacteria and food debris that has built up over time in your pooch's mouth. If not regularly removed, this causes plaque and a persistent smell.
If your dog's breath smells a little bit, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. If the symptoms are left unaddressed, the smell will become much stronger and your pet's oral health and wellbeing will continue to decline.
How Is Bad Breath In Dogs Treated?
The reason for your dog's bad breath will impact the type of treatment they need. Since bad breath is a sign of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem itself, it should resolve once the underlying problem is successfully treated.
That being said, whenever you notice a change in the smell of your dog's breath you shouldn't assume its cause or that it is normal. Bring your pup to your vet as soon as possible for examination and diagnosis, since a number of causes of bad breath can be very serious health issues.
Treatments at your vets can range from prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies and even surgeries to help treat your pet's condition depending on what part of their body it affects and its severity. Your vet will be able to advise you on what the best course of treatment is for the health issue underlying your pup's bad breath.
How Can I Treat My Dog's Stinky Breath?
You aren't able to treat kidney or liver disease at home, but one way you can help to treat or prevent bad breath in your dog is by making sure that your pet receives the regular oral hygiene care they need, in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.
You should brush your dog's teeth often (ideally daily), spending the time when they are young to help them get used to the experience of tooth brushing.
Either in addition to this or if you aren't able to train your pup to tolerate brushing, instead of brushing, there are also a wide variety of dental chews and dog food designed to promote oral health available.
Ask your vet what kinds of oral health products they recommend for helping your dog to stave off bad breath.
When it comes to preventing internal organ failure or disease affecting your dog's liver or kidneys, there are also a couple of easy measures you can take to help your pup avoid these causes of bad breath.
Some human medications, common houseplants and foods that are safe for our consumption are actually quite toxic for our pets. Make sure you are aware of what kinds of substances you have in your home that could cause organ disease or failure in your pooch and keep them out of reach as much as possible.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.