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Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes & Treatment

Do you find yourself recoiling from your dog when they come in for a cuddle or apologizing to guests for the odor? Bad breath is quite common in our canine companions, especially as they age, and can be a sign of serious health problems in your dog. Our Riverside veterinarians explain what may be causing your dog's bad breath and how you can help treat or even prevent it.

What causes bad breath in dogs?

You may be wondering "why do dogs have bad breath?" There is a reason 'dog breath' is such a common saying when describing something a little off putting, and that is that often our dogs have a little bit of bad 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 stinky dog breath is a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing the smell. There are several 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 puppy'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. 

The accumulation of toxins and waste products in your dog's body may be causing health issues in addition to making their breath smell bad if their kidneys aren't functioning properly to filter and process them.

Liver Disease

Your dog might have liver disease if they have recently developed extremely bad breath and accompanying symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

Oral Health Issues

The most frequent cause of bad breath in dogs, oral health problems are a general term for a range of medical conditions, from tooth decay to gum disease and oral infections. Whatever the precise cause, bacteria and food particles build up in your dog's mouth over time if you don't regularly clean it out, leading to plaque and a lingering odor.

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

How to Treat Bad Breath in Dogs?

The cause of your dog's bad breath will have a large impact on the type of treatment they require. Because bad breath is a symptom of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem in and of itself, it should go away once the underlying condition is successfully treated.

That being said, if you notice a change in the smell of your dog's breath, don't assume it's caused or normal. Bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible for an examination and diagnosis, as several causes of bad breath can lead to serious health problems.

Depending on the condition and which part of your pet's body is affected, your veterinarian may recommend prescription drugs, specialized diets, therapies, or even surgery to help treat your pet. The best course of treatment for the underlying health condition causing your dog's bad breath will be suggested by your veterinarian.

Why does my dog's breath smell so bad and how can I treat it?

While you can't treat kidney or liver disease at home, one thing you can do to help treat or prevent bad breath in your dog is to make sure they get the routine oral hygiene care they need every day, in addition to annual professional dental cleanings.

Brush your dog's teeth every day, taking the time when they are young to help them become accustomed to the experience of tooth brushing.

In addition to this, or if you are unable to train your dog to tolerate brushing, there is a wide variety of dental chews and dog food designed to promote oral health available.

Inquire with your veterinarian about the types of oral health products they recommend for preventing bad breath in your dog.

When it comes to preventing internal organ failure or disease affecting your dog's liver or kidneys, there are a few simple steps you can take to assist your pup in avoiding these causes of bad breath.

Some common household plants, foods, and medications that are safe for humans can be extremely toxic to our pets. You should keep your dog as far away from any substances in your home that could lead to organ failure or disease. Make a list of these substances.

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 Riverside Animal Hospital to book an appointment for your canine companion as soon as possible to have the cause of their bad breath diagnosed and treated.

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Riverside Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Riverside companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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