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Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes & Remedies

Tired of dealing with stinky dog breath? While bad breath is common in dogs, especially as they age, it can be a sign of a serious health issue in your pup. Here, our Flat Rock vets explain what causes bad breath in dogs and how to help prevent and treat it. 

Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

There's a reason 'dog breath' is a common saying! Dogs can often have some smell to their breath from playing, chewing, eating, and generally living their lives. However, if their normal breath smell changes and becomes excessively bad it can often be a sign of an underlying problem. 

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

If your dog's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it may be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is never fun for a dog parent) or a symptom of underlying kidney issues. 

When a dog's kidneys aren't functioning properly they have trouble filtering toxins and waste materials which can cause them to build up in their body. Bad breath is a common symptom of kidney problems in dogs, especially when combined with pale gums or mouth ulcers. 

Liver Disease

If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their new scent is accompanied by other concerning symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, liver disease may be the root cause of their symptoms.

Oral Health Issues

Oral health issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. Used as an umbrella term, oral health covers a range of issues from tooth decay, to gum disease and oral infections. 

Most cases of bad breath in dogs are caused by a build-up of bacteria and food debris over time and can create an unpleasant smell if your pup's mouth is not regularly cleaned. If left unchecked, minor oral health issues can progress into larger problems and negatively impact your dog's overall health. 

How is bad breath in dogs treated?

The reason why your dog has bad breath will largely influence the kind of treatment they will require. Since bad breath can be a sign of an underlying condition rather, it is important to treat the root cause of the problem. 

If you notice a change in the smell of your dog's breath, it's always important to bring your dog to your vet so they can receive a proper examination, diagnosis, and treatment options. 

Treatments at your vets can range from prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, or even surgeries to help treat your pet's underlying condition, depending on the diagnosis. 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 do I prevent bad breath issues in my pup?

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, in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.

You should brush your dog's teeth regularly. It is important to start this process as a puppy if possible to help get them used to the experience of tooth brushing. In combination with tooth brushing, or if your pup is intolerant to brushing, there are a wide variety of dental chews and food options that help promote oral health. 

Ask your vet what kinds of oral health products they recommend for helping your dog to stave off bad breath.

Larger issues, like kidney or liver disease, can't always be prevented but you should take extra caution to ensure your dog isn't consuming anything they shouldn't. Some human medications, foods, and common houseplants can be toxic to dogs and contribute to liver and kidney issues. Be 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.

Have you noticed a change in the way your dog's breath smells? Contact Western Carolina Animal Hospital to book an appointment for your canine companion as soon as possible to have the cause of their bad breath diagnosed and treated.

Dog with an open mouth with a toothbrush being extended towards it

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