Bad Breath In Dogs

Bad Breath in Dogs : 3 Reasons Your Dog’s Breath Smells Horrible

Vet-Checked • Pet-Tested • Owner-Approved

Carlotta Cooper

Researched & Written by

Carlotta Cooper

At EasyPet, we are committed to presenting the most accurate and up-to-date information to assist you in your pet care journey. When appropriate, we consult licensed and practicing veterinarians to fact-check our professionally written articles.

Nothing is worse than cuddling up to your furry best friend just to be hit with a wave of odor. Bad breath in dogs is so common that there is even a name for it – dog breath. What many pet owners do not realize is that this problem is completely treatable. Your dog doesn’t need to have bad breath, nor should he, and there are many ways to prevent it.

Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

1. Halitosis

The clinical name for bad breath is halitosis and it is a problem that can affect dogs just as much (or more than) humans. For humans, bad breath can easily be handled with a dental cleaning or something as simple as brushing your teeth. Your dog, however, cannot brush his own teeth and many dog owners simply do not consider dental care as something they need to do.

Bad breath in dogs is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth, the lungs, or the digestive tract. In many cases, bad breath simply means that your dog needs a dental cleaning but, in some cases, it can point toward a larger issue such as a problem with the kidneys, liver, or intestinal tract.

All dogs are prone to developing bad breath without proper dental care. There are some breeds, however, that are especially at risk – small breeds like Chihuahuas, for example. In most cases, bad breath in dogs results from gum disease which is caused by a build-up of plaque and tartar. In order to pinpoint the cause of your dog’s bad breath, you should consult your veterinarian. Your vet will perform a routine exam, including a dental exam, to identify the cause of your dog’s bad breath.

2. Cracked Tooth

If you have ever had a dog with a rotten tooth, then you probably know that your dog can have breath like a zombie. If you have a dog that suddenly loses interest in his food and he has very bad breath, it’s very possible that he has a bad tooth and it is painful for him to eat. Your dog needs to see the vet so he can have the bad tooth removed. This often happens with senior dogs, unfortunately. Owners sometimes believe that the elderly dog has lost interest in eating and living when, in fact, the poor dog just has a painful tooth and can’t eat. The dog should be fine as soon as he has the bad tooth removed. He’s not ready to die!

Younger dogs can also have problems with a cracked or broken tooth if they chew on rocks or other things they shouldn’t. Again, the telltale sign of a rotten tooth, regardless of the dog’s age, is horrible breath. Not just ordinary doggy breath but really awful breath. If you think your dog has a problem tooth, take him to the vet.

3. They Ate Something That Smells Bad

Have you seen some of the things your dog puts in his mouth? Seriously, dogs eat some horrible stuff. Dogs may be carnivores by ancestry, but they are scavengers by nature and they are always checking things out and tasting anything they can find. How many times have you caught your dog eating something awful out of the trash?

All kidding aside, while dogs have a great sense of smell, their taste buds are much less developed than yours. Humans have about six times as many taste buds as dogs. Dogs do not have a very sophisticated palate when it comes to food or other things they try to eat. Things have to have a strong flavor for your dog to be able to taste it and they can taste some flavors better than others. For instance, they don’t taste salt very well. This explains why your dog favors things that are rotting, or poop, or other things that would make you queasy. So, when your dog eats these very flavorful things, they can leave his breath smelling pretty bad.

Treating Bad Breath in Dogs

Treatments for bad breath in dogs vary depending on the cause of the problem.

If an accumulation of plaque or tartar is the culprit, giving your dog’s teeth a good cleaning may be enough to solve the problem. Using dog toothbrush and toothpaste regularly is a good idea. You might also consider dental chews and treats to help rid gunk and freshen their breath.

It is also possible for your dog’s diet to cause bad breath, in which case you may need to switch to another formula. In general, solid commercial diets (often referred to as kibble) is better for cleaning your dog’s teeth and preventing plaque buildup than canned items. If your dog’s bad breath is caused by an underlying condition, your veterinarian will be able to determine the proper course of treatment.

It also helps to keep your dog out of the trash and other places where he can get yucky things to eat.

Another good idea is to have your vet check your dog’s teeth during your next visit so you can make sure they are in good shape.

Lots of dogs need to have their teeth professionally cleaned by their vet at some point in their life. You don’t have to see a specialist. This is something that your vet can do when your dog is under anesthesia. Many owners opt to schedule a teeth cleaning if their dog has to be under anesthesia for another procedure.

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