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Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

Why does my dog's breath smell so bad?

Bad breath is common in dogs, especially as they age. But it can be a symptom of a serious underlying health issue. In today's post, our Denver vets explain some common causes of bad breath in dogs and what can be done to help resolve the problem.

What is causing my dog's stinky breath?

Stinky dog breath is definitely a concern that many pet parent share. While it's perfectly normal for your pup to have some smell on their breath from eating, playing with toys and just living their normal doggie lives, this smell can sometimes grow into a stink that repels all but the bravest pup parents.

But bad breath is no laughing matter when it comes to our four-legged friends. Your dog's bad breath could be a sign of a serious underlying health problem, so while you may be tempted to just grin and bear it, it's important to take your dog to see the vet if your pooch is experiencing chronic bad breath.

Dental Health Problems

Oral health issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. Oral health issues that could lead to stinky breath in dogs range from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. Regardless of the precise cause, bacteria and food debris build up over time in your pup's mouth if not regularly cleaned away, resulting in plaque and a persistent bad smell. 

If your dog's breath is just a little smelly, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. Left untreated, the smell is likely to become much stronger and your pet's oral health and well-being may suffer. Contact your vet to schedule a dental examination for your pup. 

Kidney Disease

If your pup's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it could be a sign that they have recently eaten poop (which is another common problem that should be investigated by your vet) or a symptom of kidney issues. When your dog's kidneys aren't working properly they are unable to filter and process toxins and waste materials as they should. This can lead to a buildup of these waste products in your pup's body which is both harmful for your dog's overall health and a possible cause of bad breath.

Liver Disease

If your canine companion has suddenly developed very bad breath along with other concerning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, liver disease could be the underlying cause of their symptoms. Liver disease is a very serious health concern that requires urgent care. Contact your vet if your dog's bad breath is accompanied by other symptoms.

What can a vet do to help resolve my dog's bad breath?

Treatment for your dog's bad breath will depend upon the underlying cause of the condition. That said, once your dog has been successfully treated for the underlying health concern their bad breath should begin to clear up. 

If you notice a sudden change in your dog's breath, particularly if your pooch is older, it's important to see your vet in order to get a diagnosis as early as possible. Treatments are typically most successful and easiest when conditions are caught in the early stages. 

Treatments for your dog's bad breath can range from prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies and even surgeries depending on the cause and severity of the underlying condition.

Is there anything I can do to improve my dog's 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.

Our vets recommend that while your canine companion is still a young puppy you should begin brushing their teeth. This may sound crazy but spending the time when they are young to help them get used to the experience of tooth brushing can help to avoid more serious dental health issues when they are older.

If you aren't able to train your pup to tolerate having their teeth brushed there are a wide variety of dental chews and dog foods formulated to promote good oral health. Ask your vet about these and other oral health solutions for your dog.

When it comes to preventing internal organ damage and disease that could affect your dog's liver or kidneys, there are also a couple of easy measures you can take.

  • Make sure to keep human medications out of your dog's reach. Many are toxic to pets and can lead to severe organ damage
  • Ensure that any houseplants or foods within your pups reach are safe for dogs. Foods such as raisins and chocolate can be deadly for our canine companions, and countless houseplants can be problematic for your pup's health.
  • Keep known toxins locked up such as antifreeze which can lead to severe and sudden organ failure in dogs. 

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.

Chronic bad breath in dogs can be a sign of a developing health problem. Contact our Denver veterinarians today to book an examination for your four-legged friend.

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