You love snuggling with your pooch, but you can't stand their awful breath. While we may consider it normal, did you know that it can actually be a sign of health concerns? Here, our Madison vets talk about the causes of bad breath in dogs and how you can combat and prevent this issue from happening.
Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?
We tend to use 'dog breath' as a way of saying that someone has bad breath. This is because dogs are known to have stinky breath, some more than others. 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.
Causes Behind a Dog's Bad Breath
If you are wondering what causes bad breath in dogs, here are some of the most common reasons:
If your pup's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it may be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is something you should look into on its own) or 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.
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. However, if they are left unchecked, the smell will become much stronger and your pet's oral health and wellbeing will continue to decline.
What to Do For Stinky Dog Breath
The underlying cause behind your dog's bad breath will determine the treatment that they 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 a number of causes of bad breath can be very serious health issues.
Treatments 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.
Treating 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.
By starting tooth brushing and other types of oral hygiene when your dog is still a puppy, you can make it easier for both of you down the road.
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.
Your vet will be able to offer recommendations for products to help make your dog's breath smell better.
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.