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Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes and Treatments

While bad breath is common in dogs, it can point to serious health issues. Today, our Concord vets discuss potential causes of your dog's bad breath and how you can help treat and prevent it. 

Why Does My Dog's Breath Smell So Bad?

Many people compare odious smells to 'dog breath', and for good reason - it's not uncommon for dogs to have bad breath. While it's perfectly normal for your pooch to have some odor on their breath from playing with toys, eating and generally living their lives, this smell can sometimes develop into a stink that repels all but the most courageous of pet parents, causing them to wonder, "What causes bad breath in dogs?" 

While you might be tempted to grin and deal with the smell, the stink in your dog's breath can actually indicate a sign of an underlying health issue that more often than not is causing the smell. Your dog's bad breath may have numerous potential causes. The most common are oral health issues, liver disease and kidney disease. 

Kidney Disease

Does your pooch's bad breath smell like urine or feces? While this can indicate that they've recently eaten poop (which is something your veterinarian should assess), it can also be a symptom of kidney problems. 

If your dog's kidneys aren't functioning properly, they will not be able to filter and process toxins and waste, which will accumulate in your pup's body and may contribute to the bad smell on their breath. Kidney disease can also harm your dog's overall health. 

Liver Disease

Sometimes, bad breath in dogs can be accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. This can be a sign of liver disease, which may be the underlying cause of their symptoms. 

Oral Health Issues

Oral health issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. These may include health issues ranging from tooth decay to oral infections and gum disease. Regardless of the exact cause, bacteria and food debris accumulate in your pup's mouth over time. They can create plaque and a persistent smell if not regularly cleaned away. 

If your dog's breath has a faint odor, it's likely caused by developing oral health issues. If left unchecked, this smell will grow much stronger and your pet's oral health and well-being will be at risk. 

How to Treat Bad Breath in Dogs?

Now that we've answered the question, "Why do dogs have 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 vets 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. 

What Can I Do To Treat My Dog's Stinky Breath?

While you aren't able to treat kidney or liver disease at home, one way you can help to treat or prevent stinky dog breath 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.

Have you noticed a change in the way your dog's breath smells? Contact Four Corners Veterinary Hospital to book an appointment for your canine companion to have their bad breath diagnosed and treated.

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