It's no secret that we expect a dog's breath to smell to a certain degree, especially since we even refer to bad breath in humans as 'dog breath'. Here, our Westport vets discuss the possible causes of bad breath in dogs and what you can do to treat it and prevent it from reoccurring.
Why Does Your Dog's Breath Smell So Bad?
There is a reason 'dog breath' is such a common saying when describing something a little offputting, and that is because our dogs may occasionally have a little bit of bad breath. A dog's mouth can smell bad or just have many different smells in it due to your dog exploring the world using their mouth. Between eating their food, chewing on toys or just tasting everything they can, this can leave a variety of smells making their breath smell bad.
You may think that this is always normal and so it is no big deal if your dog has a smelly mouth but you should always bring your dog in for an examination as the bad breath can also be caused by a variety of health concerns. There are a number of different possible causes of bad breath in your dog, but the most common are kidney disease, liver disease and oral health issues.
Kidney Disease in Dogs
There may be a time that you smell your dog's breath and feel that it smells like feces or urine, while there's a chance that your dog may have a habit of eating their poop which should be discussed with your vet anyway, these smells are also linked to kidney disease in dogs.
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 so it is important to have them seen by a vet as soon as possible if you notice these smells.
Liver Disease in Dogs
If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their new scent is accompanied by concerning symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, then your dog may be experiencing the symptoms of liver disease.
Dental Health Conditions
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. If left untreated these dental and oral health concerns can spread and create serious complications for other areas of your dog's body.
What Should I Do If My Dog Has Bad Breath?
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 a number of 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 Can My Dog's Bad Breath Be Treated?
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 for helping your dog to stave off 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 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.