Dogs having bad breath is a common occurrence, but can be a sign of a more serious health concern. Our Tucson vets explain what might be causing your dog to have bad breath and what you can do to treat and prevent it.
What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?
There is a reason 'dog breath' is such a common saying when describing something a little off-putting, and that is that every once in a while our dogs have a 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 living their day-to-day, the smell can sometimes get out of hand.
While you may be tempted to just bear the smell, more often than not, the smell of your dog's bad breath is a sign of an underlying health issue. There are several different possible causes of bad breath in your dog, but the most common are kidney disease, liver disease, and oral health issues.
Oral Health Issues
The most common cause of bad breath in dogs, oral health issues is an umbrella term including health issues ranging from tooth decay to 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.
If your pup's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it may be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is a whole other problem), but could also be a symptom of kidney issues.
If your dog's kidneys aren't working properly to filter and process toxins and waste materials, their buildup in the pup's body may be 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 concerning symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, they may have a liver disease at the root cause of their symptoms.
Treating Bad Breath in Dogs
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 you shouldn't assume its cause or that it is normal. Bring your pup to your vet as soon as possible for examination and diagnosis, since several causes of bad breath can be very serious health issues.
Treatments at your vet can range from prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, and even surgeries to help treat your pet's condition depending on what part of their body it affects and its severity. Your vet will be able to advise you on what the best course of treatment is for the health issue underlying your pup's bad breath.
How You Can Help Treat Your Dog's Bad Breath
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.
You should brush your dog's teeth every day, spending the time when they are young to 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 to control your dog's 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 human 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 your pet harm.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.