And guest author, Emila Smith
Giving your furry buddy some of our healthy treats and meal toppers might earn you some kisses. But the experience probably won’t be pleasant if your dog has bad breath. Some breeds, like chihuahuas, are notorious for having bad breath, and only dog lovers can bear it.
We can confirm without a scent of doubt (pun intended), though, that Fido’s breath doesn’t have to be repulsive. And that goes whether you have a puppy from a reputable breeder or an older dog from a rescue center.
If you often turn your nose when Fido smears those loving kisses, don’t worry. There are solutions for canine halitosis. You could give them a doggy mint (many human mints contain xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs). But it won’t last, and you will soon be back to plugging your nose. To permanently fix your dog’s stinky breath, you need to understand why it exists and treat the underlying cause with the help of your vet. Here is a glimpse of why your dog’s breath might stink and what you can do about it.
Poor Oral Hygiene Habits Contribute to Stinky Dog Breath
Before you check your dog, check yourself. When did you last brush your teeth?
Don’t feel offended by the question…Oral hygiene habits are contagious with human children, and with dogs it’s not that different. If a canine parent does not care much about their teeth, they’re not going to care all that much about Fido’s teeth. The results are as predictable as the sunrise. Your dog will soon accumulate plaque and tartar followed by gingivitis. Their mouth will be a bacterial paradise.
Dental disease is by far the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. If you ignore the signs, things can only go south and the infection could spread further. It could cause inflamed gums, abscesses, bone loss and eventually tooth loss. Needless to say, Fido will not only have a stinky breath but may also experience excruciating pain.
What can you do? We won’t claim it’s easy to start brushing a dog’s teeth, but with practice and lots of patience it can become a fun bonding experience each day. Brushing even a couple of times a week can make a difference, especially when done in combination with other solutions like dental chews, gels, and other products that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Your veterinarian can also examine your dog’s mouth and let you know when it’s time for a professional cleaning. General anesthesia is essential for proper evaluation and cleaning of the entire mouth. In the long run, keeping the teeth clean is the best defense against dental disease and associated stench.
You can learn more about preventative strategies in this Pet Dental Health blog.
Bad Dietary Habits Can Lead to Bad Breath in Dogs
The food you feed your dog can also impact their breath. Here are three questions to help you gauge whether Fido’s diet is the right one:
- Do you give your dog a balanced diet?
- Do you offer snacks at optimal times?
- Do you reward good feeding habits and discourage bad ones?
Some dogs, for example, like to take part in coprophagia – eating their own or another dog’s poop. Of course, if your dog eats poop, they are bound to have foul breath.
What can you do about it? Coprophagia can be a normal behavior in young dogs. Unfortunately, if allowed to continue, it can become a hard habit to break. The solution lies in providing complete and balanced meals, instilling good eating habits, and preventing access to what you consider undesirable “treats.” If your dog is underfed, has a nutrient deficiency, or has developed a taste for eating poop, you could end up facing an embarrassing snacking habit. If you aren’t having success dealing with this issue despite a healthy diet and sufficient training- contact your veterinarian for additional advice.
Kidney Disease Can Be a Cause
What could be worse than breath that smells like poop? Scent aside, a urine-like smell can indicate you have a more serious problem on your hands – kidney disease.
The kidneys are the body’s filters. They separate crucial elements from a compound known as urea. If the kidneys are not functioning optimally, excess urea could build up and overflow into your dog’s bloodstream.
One of the signs of malfunctioning kidneys is if your dog has ammonia or pee-like breath. Kidney ailments could be grave and warrant nothing less than an immediate visit to the vet for further checks and treatment.
Diabetes Also Causes Bad Breath In Dogs
You may practice good pet oral hygiene practices, train your furry buddy in excellent diet habits, and prevent your dog from engaging in disgusting habits. However, your dog may still have foul breath. If that’s the case, pay more attention to the scent. It may be difficult, but that’s the sacrifice we make as loving parents.
If the breath has a fruity (or somewhat sweet) smell, your dog could have diabetes.
Diabetes in dogs can cause bad breath and other complications. You may also notice a shift in eating habits. As with humans, dogs with diabetes tend to pee and drink more frequently than usual. Fortunately, diabetes is treatable. Be sure to make an appointment with your vet for appropriate care and advice.
Liver Disease and Bad Breath
If your dog’s bad breath is accompanied by other symptoms like frequent vomiting and loss of appetite, take a closer look at them.
Do you notice a yellowish tinge in their eyes or gums?
If yes, visit your vet immediately to test for liver disease, which is very serious.
Other Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs Include:
- Eating toxins like toxic plants, cigarettes, and many others.
- Having a splinter, piece of bone, a piece from a chew toy, or cloth stuck in the mouth.
- Oral tumors
- Imbalance of gut bacteria.
Although it may not be pleasant, paying attention to the way your dog’s breath smells can tell you that your dog may need something – whether it be better dental care or diet habits, or a check-up at the vet’s office. Don’t let bad breath linger too long!
*This blog was developed with Veterinarian Dana Wilhite, DVM to help educate pet owners.
©2022 Vervana, LLC and Emila Smith. All rights reserved.