Are you struggling to cuddle with your pup because the smell coming from their mouth is so terrible? Here, our Westfield vets discuss the causes of bad breath in dogs, why it may be a serious concern and what can be done to treat it.
Why does my dog's breath smell?
If you have a dog then you may have once or twice wondered 'Why do dogs have such bad breath?'. While it's perfectly normal for your pup to have some smell on their breath from eating, playing with toys and just living their normal doggie lives, this smell can sometimes grow into a stink that repels all but the bravest pup parents.
While smelly dog breath is a common problem, bad breath is no laughing matter. Your dog's smelly breath could be a sign of a serious underlying health issue, so although you may be tempted to just grin and bear it, it's important to take your dog to see the vet if they are experiencing chronic bad breath.
So what causes bad breath in dogs? Here are some of the common reasons their breath can be so smelly:
Dental health problems are the most common cause of a dog's bad breath. Anything from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections could be the reason why your dog's breath is so stinky. Regardless of the precise cause, dental health problems arise when bacteria and food debris are allowed to build up on your dog's teeth and gums, resulting in plaque and a persistent bad smell.
When your dog's breath begins to smell it may be safe to assume that there could be a potential oral health concern. Dental health problems don't only cause bad breath, they can be painful for your pup. Left untreated, your dog's breath will likely become much worse and your pet's oral health and well-being will continue to decline.
If your dog's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it may be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is another common problem that should be investigated by your vet) or a symptom of kidney issues. When your dog's kidneys aren't working properly they are unable to filter and process toxins and waste materials as they should. This can lead to a buildup of these waste products in your pup's body which is both harmful to your dog's overall health and a possible cause of bad breath.
If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their stinky breath is accompanied by concerning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, liver disease could be the underlying cause of their symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms you should reach out to your vet immediately to schedule a wellness exam for your pup.
How can my vet treat my dog's bad breath?
Your vet will determine which method of treatment is suitable for your dog once they have diagnosed the underlying condition. That said, once your pooch has been successfully treated for the underlying health issue their bad breath should begin to clear up.
If you notice a sudden change in your dog's breath, particularly if you have a senior dog, it's important to see your vet in order to get a diagnosis as early as possible. It is always better if the issues can be diagnosed and treated early when there is the best chance at a full recovery and fewer complications.
Treatments for your dog's bad breath can range from prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies and even surgeries depending on the cause and severity of the underlying condition.
What can I do to help manage stinky dog breath?
Serious underlying health conditions such as kidney or liver disease will need immediate treatment from a veterinary professional. But you can do a huge part yourself by performing routine at-home oral hygiene and care for your dog in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.
You should begin an oral hygiene routine, including teeth brushing when your dog is still quite young. This may sound silly but spending the time when they are young to help them get used to the experience of tooth brushing can help to avoid more serious dental health issues when they are older.
If you aren't able to train your pup to tolerate having their teeth brushed there are a wide variety of dental chews and dog foods formulated to promote good oral health. Your vet will be able to help you find a dental care solution that works best for your pup and their specific needs.
When it comes to protecting your pup's liver and kidneys against damage and disease there are a few easy steps you can take.
- Make sure to keep human medications out of your dog's reach. Many are toxic to pets and can lead to severe organ damage
- Ensure that any houseplants or foods within your pup's reach are safe for dogs. Foods such as raisins and chocolate can be deadly for our canine companions, and countless houseplants can be problematic for your pup's health.
- Keep known toxins locked up such as antifreeze which can lead to severe and sudden organ failure in dogs.
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.