Pets aren’t shy with their affections. They have a very open way of showing their love, so you will definitely get a sniff of their breath every time they greet you or they come in for a kiss. Sometimes this breath will be fresh (that’s how it should be) or it could be bad. If your dog occasionally has stinky breath, there is probably nothing to worry about. But if your dog’s bad breath is persistent, and lasts more than 3 or 4 days, you may need to investigate why.
The most common cause of bad breath in your dog is dental and gum disease. Just like humans, bad breath can indicate the build-up of plaque and tartar in your pet’s mouth. Over time, too much plaque and tartar build-up can push the gums away from your pet’s teeth, bacteria can then settle in inflaming the gums and causing cavities, which can then lead to infection, tooth loss and bad breath. Brushing may not be sufficient to keep oral bacteria at bay in your pet, especially in small dogs and cats, whose teeth are closer together and more prone to periodontal disease. They may need more regular cleaning with your veterinarian.
Another reason for your dog’s bad breath may have to do with their food. Your dog’s breath is highly influenced by your dog’s diet. Certain foods have a tendency to linger on your canine’s teeth longer than others. Soft, sticky foods are the main culprits. This may accelerate the growth of bacteria which causes cavities, which we have learned, is generally the reason for a malodorous dog’s mouth. Choose a well-balanced and healthy dog food that provides all the essential vitamins, minerals, and fibers your dog needs. This may help keep their body and mouth in tip-top shape. Speak with a vet to choose a healthy dog food that’s good for your dog and their breath. Also watch your dog and make sure he isn’t eating things that he shouldn’t like garbage, human food or even poop. (ewww).
Unfortunately, there are more serious reasons for your dog’s less than fresh breath. Internal problems that affect your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and vital organs, may also be to blame. If your dog's breath smells a bit like urine, then this is one of the easiest signs to confirm that they may have some trouble with the kidneys. The other symptoms that you may find are decrease in appetite, change in weight, and an increase or decrease in urination. Liver problems could also be an issue. If this is the case, pets will often have a strong, bad breath. Other changes reported include losing appetite, vomiting, and eyes and teeth turning a bit yellowish. Finally, another serious cause could be Diabetes. If your dog’s breath smells like nail polish remover, or smells sweet or fruity, it could be diabetes. Pets suffering from diabetes could also have an increased appetite, sudden weight loss, be irritated for no reason, or sleep for long hours.
These last few causes are very scary, I know. But the good news is we can prevent many of these issues before they occur. So what can you do when bad breath becomes an issue? The answers vary from simply checking your dog’s teeth for decay or tumors in the mouth to getting your dog to your vet for tests. Daily brushing is a good start but make sure you use a quality toothpaste and scrub the tongue and inside the cheeks as much as possible. Asking your vet about changing foods is also something that you can try. Often, these minor things can help bad breath issues immensely. Aside from diet and brushing, there’s lots that dog parents can do to help limit their dog’s bad breath and maintain their oral hygiene.
Dogs love to chew. Chewing is a natural and entertaining pastime for dogs. With the right toy or treat, it can also be an easy way for them to maintain their dental health. As dogs gnaw on a chew toy, it scrapes plaque and tartar off of their teeth. Home remedies such as adding a little coconut oil or lemon juice to your dogs’ food is also an option. Your dog, just like humans, needs regular dental cleanings to remove plaque and decayed teeth that can lead to other health issues and to have their oral cavity properly inspected. If these things don’t work, or if your dog is experiencing other symptoms your vet can recommend tests and labs to rule out a more serious issue.
In conclusion, stinky dog breath can simply be a matter of diet or a need for daily brushing but it can also be a sign of underlying health concerns. It can indicate things such as metabolic issues, and gastrointestinal problems. That is why it’s so important to take your dog to the vet for regular teeth cleanings, annual wellness checks and to monitor these symptoms at home. And then you can feel free to lean in for a fresh smooch with your pooch!