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Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes & Remedies

Dental concerns are common among pets, especially as they get older. Without proper care, they can experience serious health complications. Our Westminster vets talk about what causes bad breath in dogs and what can be done to help them get back to a fresh and clean mouth.

Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

Do you avoid getting kisses from your pup? Maybe you've even found yourself apologizing to guests for your dog's bad breath. This may be common, but why do dogs have bad breath?

Smelly breath is something we can expect from our canine companions–to an extent. While it's normal for your pooch to have some smell on their breath from playing with toys, eating and just living their normal doggy lives, this smell can sometimes develop into a stench that repels all but the most seasoned, bravest pup parents.

That said, when it comes to our four-legged friends, bad breath is no laughing matter, as it can indicate an underlying health issue. So, while you may be tempted to just ignore it or chalk it up to your dog aging, it's important to take your pooch to see your vet if chronic bad breath is becoming a problem. You and your vet will hopefully be closer to answering the question, "Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?"

Have you ever asked yourself 'Why does my dog's breath smell?' You're not the only one. Here are some of the most commonly seen conditions behind a dog's bad breath:

Oral Health Issues

Oral health issues are the most common culprit of bad breath in dogs. Problems that may be causing your pooch's fragrant breath include oral infections, tooth decay, and gum disease. Regardless of the precise cause, food debris and bacteria accumulate over time in your pup's mouth if not regularly cleaned away, resulting in plaque and a persistent odor.

If your dog's breath has a faint odor, it is likely caused by developing oral health issues. If they are left unchecked, the smell will become much stronger and your pet's oral health and wellbeing will continue to decline.

Liver Disease

Is bad breath a new issue for your furry friend? If symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting accompany the new scent, liver disease may be the underlying cause of their symptoms.

Kidney Disease

If your pooch's breath smells like urine or feces, this may be a sign that they have eaten poop recently (another common problem that your vet should investigate) or a symptom of kidney issues. If your dog's kidneys aren't functioning properly, they will be unable to filter and process toxins and waste materials. This can lead to a buildup of waste products in your dog's body, which is both dangerous to your dog's general health and a potential cause of bad breath.

Treating my Dog's Bad Breath

If smelly breath is your dog's new normal then you should contact your vet to schedule a dental exam and cleaning.

Treatment for your dog's bad breath will depend upon the underlying cause of the condition. That said, once your pooch has been successfully treated for the underlying health issue their bad breath should begin to clear up.

If you notice a sudden change in your dog's breath, particularly if your pooch is older, it's important to see your vet to get a diagnosis as early as possible. Treatments are typically the most successful and easiest when conditions are caught in the early stages.

Treatments for your dog's bad breath can range from prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, and even surgeries depending on the cause and severity of the underlying condition.

What can be done to treat stinky dog breath at home?

While you aren't able to diagnose and 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.

Our vets recommend that while your canine companion is still a young puppy you should begin brushing their teeth. This may sound crazy but spending the time when they are young to help them get used to the experience of tooth brushing can help to avoid more serious dental health issues when they are older.

If you aren't able to train your pup to tolerate having their teeth brushed there are a wide variety of dental chews and dog foods formulated to promote good oral health. Ask your vet about these and other oral health solutions for your dog.

When it comes to preventing internal organ damage and disease that could affect your dog's liver or kidneys, there are also a couple of easy measures you can take.

  • Make sure to keep human medications out of your dog's reach. Many are toxic to pets and can lead to severe organ damage.
  • Ensure that any houseplants or foods within your pup's reach are safe for dogs. Foods such as raisins and chocolate can be deadly for our canine companions, and countless houseplants can be problematic for your pup's health.
  • Keep known toxins locked up such as antifreeze which can lead to severe and sudden organ failure in dogs.

If you witness your dog eat a toxic plant or substance, or they are displaying signs of medical distress like vomiting, diarrhea, and trouble breathing, please reach out to the nearest emergency animal hospital right away.

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.

If your dog is experiencing unbearably stinky breath, please contact our Westminster vets to schedule a dental exam and cleaning right away. 

New Patients Welcome

Choice Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary specialists are passionate about improving the health of Westminster animals with complex healthcare needs. Contact us today.

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