While bad breath in dogs is quite common, it can point to oral or general health issues. In this post, our Hattiesburg and Petal vets share what may be causing your dog's bad breath and how to help treat and prevent it.
What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?
Most dogs often have a bit of bad breath, which is why the term "dog breath" is so frequently used to describe something that smells somewhat offputting.
Our Hattiesburg and Petal vets see many dogs come in to our animal hospitals with frustrated owners asking, "Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?!".
While pooches normally have some smell on their breath from eating, playing with toys and just generally living their lives, this smell can sometimes develop into a stink that repels many pet parents and brings them in to see us.
While you may be tempted to hold your nose and deal with the smell, more often than not the stench on your dog's breath is actually a symptom of an underlying health issue and there is a definitive answer to the question, "Why do dogs have bad breath?". In fact, there may be several potential causes at play. The most common are oral health issues, liver disease and kidney disease.
Oral Health Issues
Oral health issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs, and can range from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. Regardless of the exact times, the accumulation of bacteria and food debris over time in your pooch's mouth can create plaque and a persistent smell if not cleaned away regularly.
Emerging oral health issues are the likely cause if your dog's breath smells a little bit. If these problems are left untreated, the smell will grow much stronger and your pet's oral health and general well-being will continue to deteriorate.
To ensure poor oral hygiene isn't contributing to your dog's bad breath, take care of your pooch's oral health and schedule regular professional dental cleanings with your vet.
If your pooch's bad breath smells like urine or feces, this may be a sign that your dog has recently eaten poop (which your vet should look into). It can also indicate kidney issues.
If your dog's kidneys aren't functioning properly, they won't be able to filter and process toxins and waste materials, which will build up in your pup's body and can contribute to bad breath while 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 reason why your dog has bad breath will largely influence the kind of treatment they will require. Since bad breath is a sign of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem itself, it should dissipate once the underlying problem is successfully treated.
That being said, whenever you notice stinky dog 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 several causes of bad breath can be very serious health issues.
Treatments at your vet 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.
Home Treatment for Bad Breath
While you aren't able to treat kidney or liver disease at home, one way you can help to treat or prevent bad breath in your dog is ensuring your pup gets the routine oral hygiene care they need every day in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.
You should brush your dog's teeth every day, 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.