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Causes of Dog Bad Breath & How to Get Rid of It

Does your pup's bad breath make it hard to spend quality time together? Bad breath is a common problem in dogs but many pet parents don't realize that it could be a sign of a serious health issue. Our Davidson County vets explain some common causes of stinky dog breath and what you can do.

Why do dogs have bad breath?

Bad breath is certainly not uncommon in dogs. 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 canine companions. Your dog's bad breath could be a sign of an underlying health issue, so although you may be tempted to just grin and bear it, it's important to take your dog to see the vet if they are experiencing chronic bad breath.

Dental Health Problems

Dental health problems are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. Anything from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections could be the reason why your dog's breath is so stinky. Regardless of the precise cause, dental health problems arise when bacteria and food debris are allowed to build up on your dog's teeth and gums, resulting in plaque and a persistent bad smell. 

If your pup's breath is just a little smelly, it is likely caused by emerging oral health issues. Dental health problems don't only cause bad breath, they can be painful for your pup. Left untreated, your dog's breath will likely become much worse and your pet's oral health and wellbeing will continue to decline. 

Kidney Disease

If your dog's bad breath smells like feces or urine, it may 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 dog has recently developed seriously bad breath and their stinky breath is accompanied by concerning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, liver disease could be the underlying cause of their symptoms. Contact your vet right away to book an examination for your pup.

Can my vet cure 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 pooch has been successfully treated for the underlying health issue 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.

What can I do to help 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 pooch is still a young puppy you should begin brushing their teeth. This may sound silly 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.

If your dog has bad breath it's time to take action! Contact our Davidson County vets today to book an examination for your dog. Our vets can diagnose the cause of your dog's bad breath and help you to get close again.

Happy dog panting towards camera. How to get rid of bad breath in dogs.

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