Bad breath in dogs commonly occurs but can signal health issues. Today, our South Wilton vets will explain the potential causes of your dog's bad breath and how you can treat and prevent it.
Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs
Our dogs often exhibit bad breath, which is why the term "dog breath" describes something with a slightly off-putting smell. While it's perfectly normal for your pup to develop some breath odor from eating, playing with toys, and living their lives, this smell can sometimes escalate into a stench that repels all but the bravest pup parents.
While you might be tempted to tolerate the smell, more often than not, your dog's bad breath indicates an underlying health issue that causes the odor. Several different factors can cause bad breath in your dog, with the most common being kidney disease, liver disease, and oral health issues.
Oral Health Issues
The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is oral health issues—an umbrella term encompassing a range of problems, from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. Regardless of the cause, bacteria and food debris build up over time in your pup's mouth if not regularly cleaned away, creating plaque and a persistent smell.
If your dog's breath smells a little bit, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. However, if they are left unchecked, the smell will become much stronger, and your pet's oral health and well-being will continue to decline.
To ensure your dog's bad breath is not due to poor oral hygiene, take care of your pet's oral health and take them to the vet for regular professional dental cleanings.
If your pup's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it can be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is a whole other issue), but may also be 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!
If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their new scent is accompanied by concerning symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, they may have a liver disease at the root cause of their symptoms.
Treating Bad Breath in Dogs
The cause of your dog's bad breath will significantly influence the type of treatment they require. The bad breath serves as an indicator of an underlying health condition rather than constituting a health problem in itself. It should subside once the underlying issue receives successful treatment.
However, don't assume the cause or normality of any change in your dog's breath odor. Instead, promptly take your pup to the vet for an examination and diagnosis, as several causes of bad breath can denote serious health concerns.
At your vet's office, treatments can encompass prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, and even surgeries, depending on the affected body part and the severity of the condition. Your vet will offer guidance on the most appropriate course of treatment for addressing the health issue underlying your pup's bad breath.
Home Treatment for Bad Breath
You can't treat kidney or liver disease at home, but you can help treat or prevent bad breath in your dog by ensuring your pup receives routine oral hygiene care every day and annual professional dental cleanings.
Brush your dog's teeth daily, especially when they are young, to help them become accustomed to tooth brushing.
If your pup can't tolerate brushing, or in addition to it, there is a wide variety of dental chews and dog food designed to promote oral health.
Consult your vet for recommendations on oral health products to help your dog combat bad breath.
To prevent internal organ failure or disease in your dog's liver or kidneys. Be cautious about human medications, common houseplants, and foods that are safe for us but toxic to our pets.
Keep potentially harmful substances out of your home and out of your dog's 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.