If your dog’s breath has started to become an issue, it’s time to do something about it. After all, what better time than now to start introducing your furry friend to the concept of oral hygiene? As lockdown continues, we all need to find ways to keep ourselves occupied. Granted, getting your dog to appreciate having their teeth cleaned might not seem as instantly appealing as slobbing out to Netflix with a bag of chips and a gallon of coke, but it’s probably going to be a whole lot more beneficial – to you and your dog. Brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis won’t just improve that nasty breath, it’ll also do wonders for their overall dental and gum health. Although be warned – don’t try using a regular, human toothbrush or toothpaste. Only use a toothpaste that’s been specifically created with canines in mind, and stick to a doggy toothbrush for scrubbing.
When Brushing isn’t Enough
Adopting a good oral hygiene routine is great for prevention, but what do you do when no amount of brushing improves that rank odor? While no dog’s breath is ever going to smell of roses, a strong, unpleasant odor is a sign that something’s going on… something you might need to do something about. If your dog’s breath is starting to turn your stomach, it might be caused by:
Bad Eating Habits
Dogs are many things, but picky eaters they most definitely aren’t. If your dog loves nothing more than rooting through the garbage for treats or picking up less than savory snack on their walks, their breath is likely to be just as bad as their habits. The problem can be compounded if they have coprophagia – a condition that, stomach-turning though it may be, means they’re more inclined to snack on their own poop or other animal’s deposits than they are on all those expensive treats you buy.
Poor Oral Hygiene or Periodontal Disease
Most of the time, the reason for your dog having bad breath is the same as why people do – poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease. Pooches are no less vulnerable to plaque and tartar build-up than us – although unlike us, most don’t brush their teeth twice a day or go for regular dental checkups to stop a small problem developing into something major. Left untreated, a small touch of plague can rapidly escalate into the far more serious problem of periodontal disease, a disease that starts when plaque and tartar builds-up to such an extent, the gums surrounding the affected teeth start to recede. Not only can this make your dog look rather long in the tooth, it also gives bacteria extra room to breed. Left to fester, the bacteria can soon result in everything from cavities and infections to tooth loss and tissue decay… and, of course, some very smelly breath.
Sometimes, bad breath in dogs has nothing to do with oral hygiene or a penchant for poop. If you notice their breath has a sweetish, fruity tone to it, it might indicate diabetes. Diabetes is manageable but can lead to serious problems if left untreated. If you’ve noticed any other telltale signs such as excessive urination and extreme thirst, book a vet appointment pronto.
If a fruity smell is suggestive of diabetes, a pee-like smell is suggestive of kidney disease. Although kidney disease is serious in itself, it can sometimes indicate an even greater problem. Word to the wise: if you smell urine every time your dog opens their mouth, call the vet.
As PetMD advises, oral tumors are another serious condition that could be the cause of your dog’s smelly breath. If you notice any masses or discolored areas in their mouth, book a check-up with the vet as soon as possible.
If your dog’s bad breath is accompanied by vomiting, a lack of interest in food, and a yellow tinge to their gums, get them an appointment with the vet asap. Foul breath combined with the aforementioned symptoms is indicative of liver disease – a serious condition that requires immediate attention.
As labradortraininghq.com notes, bad breath can sometimes indicate a respiratory problem such as rhinitis or sinusitis. If your dog’s breath is accompanied by a nasty nasal discharge, the problem could be more with their nose than their mouth.
How to Treat Bad Breath
Before you can start treating bad breath, you need to know what’s causing it in the first place. Once you’ve identified the root cause, the next part of the process will be that much easier.
If your pet’s bad breath can be traced to plague-build up and tartar, check with your vet whether dental cleaning might be possible. As this will need to be done under anesthesia, your vet will likely order blood work to check whether they’ll be able to handle the treatment without risk of any complications. Once the plague build-up has been removed, get into the habit of regular brushings and dental checkups. Not all dogs will take kindly to having you stick a toothbrush in their mouth at first, but with time and patience, most will eventually get used to it – especially if you choose a toothpaste in a tasty, meaty flavor. As avodermnatural.com notes, letting them chew on a bone for 15-20 minutes a day can also be a great weapon in the war against plaque.
If their nauseating breath is coming from their equally nauseating eating habits, setting limits on any free snacking should solve the problem in short order. If you’ve got a cat, make sure their litter tray is well out of reach, and remove their access to any trashcans.
If your dog’s bad breath is accompanied by any symptoms that suggest a more serious underlying issue, don’t attempt to fix it yourself. Get them to a vet as soon as possible – once the underlying problem has been successfully diagnosed and treated, the bad breath should resolve itself.