Puppy breath is sweet…but that stinky breath grown dogs get is NOT at all.
Let’s talk about some ways to help you solve your dog’s bad breath problem.
If you’re in a hurry –
We’ll take a look at the causes of bad breath in dogs, the symptoms, the treatment… and then how to prevent that bad breath from coming back.
How to Correct Bad Breath in Dogs
We often smell bad breath in our dogs and simply think it is because of something they ate. Although this can be the reason, chronic bad breath, or halitosis, can be a symptom of a more serious medical problem.
The most common causes of bad breath are teeth and gum problems. Plaque and tartar buildup are dental problems that can lead to periodontal disease. Small dogs, such as pugs, Pekingese and Boston terriers, are highly susceptible to gum disease because their teeth are spaced closely together.
In some cases, halitosis can be caused by trauma, such as by chewing on something. Cancers and inflammation in the mouth and esophagus can cause foul odors.
Certain types of infections and the food he is eating can also be the culprits.
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Foreign objects in the mouth can cause smelly breath. Check your dog’s mouth for any grass, plants, bones, hair, sticks or other stuck objects. Eating garbage, spoiled food or dead animals can cause an offensive smell. Some dogs engage in coprophagia, which is the practice of eating one’s own feces, so this could be a cause of the odor.
Even your dog’s regular diet can be a cause. Some dogs are unable to properly digest some foods, which can leave some partially chewed food stuck in the mouth or on the tongue.
An offensive odor is typically the only symptom, unless a more serious medical problem is present. For example, if your dog has dental problems, you may notice loose teeth, blood in the mouth or changes in eating patterns. If your dog has diabetes, you may notice an increase in drinking and urinating. If he has been vomiting and his eyes look yellowish, that could be a sign of liver problems. Breath that has a smell of urine may be a sign of kidney disease.
The vet will ask you questions about your dog’s general behavior, diet, oral hygiene and exercise routine. He or she will also examine the dog’s mouth and look for any signs of tooth or gum problems. In some cases, mouth X-rays may be performed. If the vet believes that a more serious health condition is present, blood work and other tests will be performed.
Treatment will depend on the diagnosis. If gum disease is the cause of the halitosis, the vet will perform a thorough cleaning of the teeth. He or she may also remove teeth that are severely damaged. If the problem is caused by your dog’s diet, you may need to switch to another brand of food. If the foul odor is caused by a more serious problem, surgery, medications and long-term management may be needed to keep the condition under control.
There are many things you can do to keep your dog’s breath smelling much nicer. These include the following:
Schedule regular vet visits for your dog. Even if your dog looks and acts fine, an annual checkup can prevent any serious health problems before they cause harm and become costly.
Brush your dog’s teeth often. There are toothbrushes and toothpastes made especially for dogs. These toothpastes come in flavorful varieties to make brushing fun. Although it is best to brush daily, even brushing weekly can do a lot to prevent painful tooth and gum conditions.
If your dog has had tooth and gum problems in the past, make sure you and your vet continue to monitor the situation. They can continue to crop up, causing foul odor in your dog’s mouth to return.
Hard toys offer your dog the opportunity to clean his teeth through chewing. Find safe toys and offer them to him often.
Dental treats are also good to offer frequently. These are formulated to reduce bad breath by removing plaque. There are also a variety of sprays, drops, gels and biscuits available to freshen breath.
Ask your vet for any tips or advice. In extreme cases, medications may need to be used to hide serious foul odor.