While some smell from a dog's mouth is normal, if you find yourself avoiding getting anywhere near your pup's mouth it may be time for a trip to the vet. Bad breath can be a sign of a serious health issue. Here, our Redmond vets explain.
What causes bad breath in dogs?
Bad breath is certainly not uncommon in dogs. While it's perfectly normal for your pup to have some smell to their breath from eating and playing with toys, this smell shouldn't be so bad that you avoid catching even the slightest whiff.
In some cases, bad breath in dogs can be a sign of an underlying health issue. Although it might be easy to make jokes about it and deal with it, it's important to take your dog to see the vet if they are experiencing chronic bad breath. Below, we share a few of the underlying health conditions that could cause your dog's breath to smell:
Oral Health Issues
Oral health issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. A number of oral health conditions can lead to bad breath including tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections. Without the proper at-home dental care, bacteria and food debris build up over time in your pup's mouth resulting in plaque and a persistent bad smell.
If you start to notice your dog's breath is getting smellier, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. The best thing you can do is make an appointment with your vet for a professional dental cleaning to help preserve your pet's oral and overall health.
By taking care of your pup's teeth you can prevent some serious health issues and help them keep their breath fresh.
If your dog's breath smells like feces or urine, it may be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is another problem altogether) 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 for your dog's overall health and a possible cause of bad breath.
If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath that smells musty or sulfurous, it could be that they are suffering from liver disease. Oftentimes with liver disease, your dog will also be exhibiting other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. However, even without other symptoms, you should head to the vet if you notice a new scent that isn't caused by something your dog recently ate. When it comes to the health of your pup it's always better to err on the side of caution.
How to Treat Bad Breath in Dogs?
Treatment for your dog's bad breath will depend upon the underlying cause of the 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 your dog is older, it's important to see your vet in order to get a diagnosis as early as possible. Treatments are typically most successful and easiest when conditions are caught in the early stages.
Treatments for your dog's bad breath can include a new at-home dental routine, prescription medications, specialized diets, and even surgeries depending on the cause and severity of the underlying condition.
What can I do at home for stinky dog 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.
Our vets recommend starting a brushing routine while your canine friend is still a puppy whenever possible. 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. Ask your vet about these and other oral health solutions for your dog.
When it comes to preventing internal organ damage and diseases that could affect your dog's liver or kidneys, there are also a couple of easy measures 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.