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Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes and Treatments

Do you find yourself recoiling from your dog when they come in for a cuddle or apologizing to guests for the odor? Bad breath is quite common in our canine companions, especially as they age, and can be a sign of serious health problems in your dog. Our Yucaipa veterinarians explain what may be causing your dog's bad breath and how you can help treat or even prevent it.

What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?

You may be wondering "why do dogs have bad breath?" There is a reason 'dog breath' is such a common saying when describing something a little offputting, and that is that often our dogs have a little bit of bad breath. 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 stinky dog breath is a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing the smell. There are several 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 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, in addition to causing health problems!

Liver Disease

If your dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their new scent is accompanied by concerning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, they may be suffering from liver disease.

Oral Health Issues

Oral health issues, the most common cause of bad breath in dogs, are a catch-all term for a variety of health issues ranging from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. Regardless of the exact cause, bacteria and food debris accumulate in your dog's mouth over time if not regularly cleaned away, resulting in plaque and a persistent odor.

If your dog's breath smells a little funny, it's most likely due to emerging oral health problems. However, if left unchecked, the odor will become much stronger, and your pet's oral health and wellbeing will continue to deteriorate.

How to Treat Bad Breath in Dogs?

The cause of your dog's bad breath will have a large impact on the type of treatment they require. Because bad breath is a symptom of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem in and of itself, it should go away once the underlying condition is successfully treated.

That being said, if you notice a change in the smell of your dog's breath, don't assume it's caused or normal. Bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible for an examination and diagnosis, as several causes of bad breath can lead to serious health problems.

Treatments at your veterinarian may include prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, and even surgery to help treat your pet's condition, depending on which part of their body is affected and the severity of the condition. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for the underlying health issue causing your dog's bad breath.

Why does my Dog's Breath Smell so Bad and How Can I Treat It?

While you can't treat kidney or liver disease at home, one thing you can do to help treat or prevent bad breath in your dog is to make sure they get the routine oral hygiene care they need every day, in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.

Brush your dog's teeth every day, taking the time when they are young to help them become accustomed to the experience of tooth brushing.

In addition to this, or if you are unable to train your dog to tolerate brushing, there is a wide variety of dental chews and dog food designed to promote oral health available.

Inquire with your veterinarian about the types of oral health products they recommend for preventing bad breath in your dog.

When it comes to preventing internal organ failure or disease affecting your dog's liver or kidneys, there are a few simple steps you can take to assist your pup in avoiding these causes of bad breath.

Some human medications, common houseplants, and foods that are safe for humans are extremely toxic to our pets. Make a list of any substances in your home that could cause organ disease or failure in your dog and keep them as far away from him 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 Green Valley Veterinary Clinic to book an appointment for your canine companion as soon as possible to have the cause of their bad breath diagnosed and treated.

New Patients Welcome

Green Valley Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Yucaipa companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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