Pets Are Important Too

Stinky Dog? The 411 on Your Dog's Bad Breath

by Aurore Fontai

A dog is a wonderful addition to a family, but having a dog does require a good amount of love, patience, and responsibility. From potty training and feeding to ensuring your new puppy is healthy and happy, it is easy to see the challenges of having this new family member. While this is surprising for many to learn, a dog's breath plays a key role in their underlying health and wellness. With this guide and the help of veterinarian, you will understand what is affecting your dog's breath and learn the best options for treating canine halitosis.

The 411 on Your Dog's Halitosis

Halitosis, or chronic bad breath, affects many humans, but it can also be an issue for your dog. Unfortunately, your dog's halitosis could be caused by a variety of factors, so a veterinarian should examine your dog to determine the root cause.

In most cases, your dog's bad breath will stem from gum disease. Most dogs will develop some signs of periodontal disease by the age of three, but foul breath is the main symptom of this condition. Dogs with severe periodontal disease may have dark discoloration on their teeth and red, swollen gums.

Other medical conditions can cause your dog to develop halitosis. Metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, increase toxins in your dog's body. These toxins can cause your dog to have bad breath. Kidney disease is also a common metabolic disease. Kidney disease prevents your dog's kidneys from filtering toxins, leading to serious levels of toxins in the body. If your dog tends to have sour-smelling breath, they may have a form of kidney disease.

Respiratory and sinus issues are also linked to chronic bad breath. If your dog's nose or nasal passages are blocked or inflamed, your dog may develop bad breath due to the possible bacteria growth.

Gastrointestinal issues, such as acid reflux or even stomach cancer, can enlarge and irritate the esophagus, leading to foul breath. If your dog has bad breath, and you are noticing changes in their appetite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Treatment for Your Dog's Halitosis

Improving your dog's bad breath is possible, but you will first need to treat the underlying cause of their halitosis.

To treat periodontal disease, your dog's veterinarian will perform an involved cleaning of their teeth. Special instruments are used to clean and polish the teeth, removing any plaque and bacteria from the teeth and gums. Teeth that have more than 50 percent loss of bone and gum tissue will need to be extracted.

Most people do not place importance on their dog's dental health, but proper brushing can reduce the risk of periodontal disease. Use the following steps to brush your dog's teeth each day at home.

  1. Moisten a pet-specific toothbrush with water. If you do not have a toothbrush for your dog, use a child's soft-bristled toothbrush.
  2. Apply a pea-sized amount of pet-specific toothpaste to the brush.
  3. Ask a friend or family member to help you keep your dog calm and happy during the process. Petting and lightly scratching your dog will help them remain relaxed.
  4. Lift your dog's lip on one side, exposing their teeth and gums.
  5. Begin brushing the teeth and gums with gentle, circular motions.
  6. Lift your dog's lip on the other side to brush the rest of their teeth and gums.
  7. After brushing, allow them to drink from a clean bowl of water.
  8. Reward your dog with petting and playtime.

The smell of a puppy's breath is appealing to many, but your dog may develop foul breath as they age. Using this guide, you will understand the causes of your dog's chronic bad breath and learn how to improve their condition. Talk with a professional at an organization such as Grove Center Veterinary Hospital for more information.