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Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

Bad breath is quite common in our canine companions and can be a sign of serious health issues. Here, our Smyrna vets explain what might be causing your dog's bad breath and how you can help to treat and prevent it.

What causes bad breath in dogs?

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 stinky 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 the stink in your dog's bad breath is actually a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing the smell. But why do dogs have bad breath? Well, 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 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 have a liver disease at the root cause of their symptoms.

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 removed, resulting in plaque and a persistent odor.

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

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 is a sign of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem itself, it should dissipate once the underlying problem is successfully treated.

Having said that, you shouldn't automatically assume the cause of or that a change in your dog's breath smell is normal whenever you notice one. Due to the fact that a number of causes of bad breath can be extremely serious health conditions, take your dog to the vet as soon as you can for an examination and diagnosis.

Depending on what part of their body the condition affects and how severe it is, veterinary treatments may include prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies, and even surgeries to help treat your pet's condition. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best course of action for treating the medical condition causing your dog's bad breath.

What can I do at home to help prevent my dog from having bad breath?

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.

There are also a few simple steps you can take to assist your pup in avoiding these causes of bad breath, including internal organ failure and disease that affects your dog's liver or kidneys.

Even though they are safe for us to consume, some human medications, common houseplants, and foods are actually quite toxic to our pets. Keep any substances that could harm your dog's organs or cause them to fail out of reach as much as you can. Make sure you are aware of what kinds of substances you have in your home.

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 Cumberland Animal Clinic to book an appointment for your canine companion to have their bad breath diagnosed and treated.

New Patients Welcome

Are you looking for a vet in Smyrna, Georgia? Cumberland Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about animal healthcare. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

(770) 433-1414