What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs and How Can it Be Treated?

Bad breath in pets, as well as humans, is also known as halitosis and it is something we’ve all come in contact with at some point. It is unpleasant to be around, even if it’s coming from your sweet little furbaby. Bad breath stems from odor causing bacteria that can build up in a number of areas, the mouth, lungs, stomach, liver or kidneys. No matter what, any case of halitosis should be looked into by a veterinarian to find out the underlying cause.

Most common cause of halitosis in dogs

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs, is related to dental issues, such as gum disease. Small breeds are thee most prone to getting tarter and plaque build-up on the teeth, and this might indicate your dog needs better dental care. However, if any dog has persistent bad breath, it should be investigated since persistent bad breath can be an indication of much more serious medical conditions, conditions related to the mouth, or the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory system, or other internal organs.

Your veterinarian will need to do a physical exam on your dog. He may need to run lab work, and he most certainly will ask about details of your dog’s life and care; oral hygiene habits, his diet, and will want to know what his general behavior has been like.

How do you know when to take your dog to the vet?

You may not know when it would be appropriate to take your dog in for a check-up when he’s got bad breath. Here are some tips for determining when it’s time to schedule an appointment.

  • If your dog’s breath has a sudden turn to an unpleasant smell. A sudden change of the smell of your dog’s breath is an indication there is something else going on with the body and it should be examined.
  • If your dog’s breath smells fruity or sweet, it could be an indication your dog has developed diabetes. You might notice signs of your dog drinking more than usual or urinating more, (accidents in the house or wanting to go outside more).
  • A foul odor that is accompanied with vomiting, yellowing of the white’s of the eyes or your dog’s gums, plus a lack of appetite, can indicate liver trouble.
  • Urine smelling breath is a tell-tell sign of kidney issues and it should be investigated as soon as possible.

How do they treat bad breath?

Of course, treatment will vary depending on what your veterinarian discovers. For dental issue causing the bad breath, your dog’s doctor may recommend a professional cleaning and better, at-home dental care. You may need to change his diet and provide better, dental-friendly toys for your dog. Other bad breath culprits, such as liver or kidney problems will be treated appropriately at the recommendations of your vet. It will depend on the exact diagnosis.

What are some bad breath prevention tips?

A lot of people believe that all dogs have bad breath, that that is just part of having a dog. This is not the case, though, and you must be diligent in giving your dog good dental care in order to keep his breath pleasant, and more importantly, his physical health healthier. Here are other things you can do to help prevent bad breath.

  • Take your dog in for regular vet checks.
  • Have your vet do regular teeth and gum checks and keep record of any changes or problems.
  • Put your dog on a high-quality dog food diet, and one that is easy to digest.
  • Brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. It is recommended that you brush them every day, and only with toothpaste that is meant for dogs. Do not use human toothpaste as this can cause digestive problems and upset stomach.
  • Dog toys that are hard and safe for your dog to chew on, as well as recommended for stimulating the gums and reducing plaque, are the best dog toys.
  • High quality treats are also important for your dog. High quality treats can help improve the quality of your dog’s breath, along with oral care products that you use for your dog’s mouth and teeth. Talk to your vet for his recommendations on these products.

One thing you want to keep in mind, if you smell any kind of odor that is not pleasant or uncommon for your dog, oral care products are only going to hide the bad breath, but will not treat or cure any underlying medical condition. You will still need to seek the advice or your veterinarian to determine the steps for taking care of your dog’s bad breath.


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