Do you find that you recoil from your pup when they come in for a cuddle or apologize to guests for the smell? Bad breath is quite common in our canine companions, but aside from being unpleasant, it could be an indication of health issues in your pooch. Here, our Milledgeville vets explain more.
What Causes Bad Breath In Dogs?
There is a reason 'dog breath' is such a common saying when describing something that smells a little unpleasant – often our dogs have a little bit of bad breath. While it's perfectly normal for your pup to have some smell on their breath from eating, playing with toys and just generally living their lives, this smell can sometimes grow into a stink that repels all but the bravest pup parents.
And while you may be tempted to just grin and bear the smell, more often than not the stink in your dog's bad breath is actually a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing the smell. There are a number of different possible causes of bad breath in your dog, but the most common are kidney disease, liver disease and oral health issues.
If your pup's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it may be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is behavior that should be dealt with regardless) or a symptom of kidney issues.
If your dog's kidneys aren't working properly to filter and process toxins and waste materials, they could build up inside the body, potentially contributing to the bad smell of their breath on top of harming your dog's health!
If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their new scent is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, liver disease might be at the root cause of their symptoms.
Oral Health Issues
The most common cause of bad breath in dogs, oral health issues is an umbrella term that includes issues like tooth decay, gum disease and oral infections. Regardless of the precise cause, bacteria and food debris build up over time in your pooch's mouth if not regularly cleaned away, creating plaque and a persistent smell.
If your dog's breath smells a little bit, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. Although if they are left unchecked, the smell will become much stronger and your pet's oral health and wellbeing will continue to decline.
How Can I Treat My Dog's Bad Breath?
The reason why your dog has bad breath will largely influence the kind of treatment they will require. Since bad breath is a sign of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem itself, it should dissipate once the underlying problem is successfully treated.
That being said, whenever you notice a change in the smell of your dog's breath, don't assume that the cause is obvious or that the smell is normal. Bring your pup to your vet as soon as possible for examination and diagnosis, since a number of causes of bad breath can be signs of very serious health issues.
Treatments at your vet can range from prescription medications, special diets, therapies and surgical procedures to help treat your pet's condition. Your vet will be able to advise you on what the best course of treatment is for the health issue underlying your dog's bad breath.
What Can I Do To Prevent Bad Breath In My Dog?
Although you can't treat kidney or liver disease at home, you can help to treat or prevent bad breath in your dog by ensuring your pup gets the routine oral hygiene care they need every day in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.
You should brush your dog's teeth every day, spending the time when they are still puppies which can help them get used to the experience of tooth brushing.
Either in addition to this or if you aren't able to train your pup to tolerate brushing, instead of brushing, there are also a wide variety of dental chews and dog food designed to promote oral health available.
Ask your vet what kinds of oral health products they recommend for helping your dog to stave off bad breath.
When it comes to preventing internal organ failure or disease affecting your dog's liver or kidneys, there are also a couple of easy measures you can take to help your pup avoid these causes of bad breath.
Some human medications, common houseplants and foods that are safe for our consumption are actually quite toxic for our pets. Make sure you are aware of what kinds of substances you have in your home that could cause organ disease or failure in your pooch and keep them out of reach as much as possible.
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.