There's a reason it's called 'dog breath', but if you find yourself recoiling anytime your dog gets their mouth close to you, it may be time for a trip to the vet as bad breath can be a sign of a serious health issue. Today, our Chino Hills vets share what causes bad breath in dogs and how it can be treated.
What causes stinky dog breath?
Bad breath is certainly not uncommon in dogs. While it's perfectly normal for your pup to have some smell to their breath from eating and playing with toys, this smell shouldn't be so bad that you avoid catching even the slightest whiff.
Bad breath in dogs could be a sign of an underlying health issue, so although you may be tempted to just grin and bear it, it's important to take your dog to see the vet if they are experiencing chronic bad breath. Below, we share a few of the underlying health conditions that could cause your dog's breath to smell:
Oral Health Issues
Oral health issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. Oral health issues that could lead to bad breath range from tooth decay and gum disease to oral infections. Without the proper at-home dental care, bacteria and food debris build up over time in your pup's mouth resulting in plaque and a persistent bad smell.
If your dog's breath smells a little bit, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. The best thing you can do is make an appointment with your vet for a thorough dental cleaning to help preserve your pet's oral and overall health. By taking care of your pup's teeth you can prevent some serious health issues and help them keep their breath fresh.
If your pup's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it may be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is another common problem that may need to be investigated by your vet) or a symptom of kidney issues. When your dog's kidneys aren't working properly they are unable to filter and process toxins and waste materials as they should. This can lead to a buildup of these waste products in your pup's body which is both harmful for your dog's overall health and a possible cause of bad breath.
If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their new scent is accompanied by concerning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, liver disease could be the underlying cause of their symptoms. The bad breath caused by liver disease often has a musty or sulfurous smell.
How to Treat Bad Breath in Dogs
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 in order to get a diagnosis as early as possible. Treatments are typically most successful and easiest when conditions are caught in the early stages.
Treatments for your dog's bad breath can include a new at-home dental routine, prescription medications, specialized diets, and even surgeries depending on the cause and severity of the underlying condition.
What can I do to treat my dog's bad breath at home?
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.
Our vets recommend that while your canine companion is still a young puppy you should begin brushing their teeth. 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.
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.