If you’ve ever leaned in to cuddle your favorite pup and then recoiled at the stench emanating from your dog’s mouth then you’ve come into contact with the dreaded “doggy breath.” Now this isn’t the puppy breath you’re used to, but a, more robust and pungent odor that tends to offend even the most strong stomached of us. Here are just a few facts and fixes for that infamous doggy breath.
Doggy Breath Isn’t Normal
Most dogs have a normal unpleasant smell from their mouths from normal digestion, especially if they have recently eaten a meal. Your dog’s breath might not smell minty fresh, but it definitely shouldn’t be off-putting to the point of making you recoil. And moreover, really bad breath isn’t a symptom of aging. It is often a sign of something much more serious.
If your dog’s bad breath is extreme and is constantly around it might be because your dog has periodontal disease which affects the teeth and gums of dogs. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar build up on your dog’s teeth. The bacteria in the tartar and plaque is toxic to gum tissue and if left unchecked can lead to gum irritation, infection, pain, and even loss of teeth either on their own or via veterinarian extraction. Additionally, long-term issues with periodontal disease can lead to other health issues such as cardiovascular (heart) disease which can be fatal to your dog. If you find your dog’s breath cringe-worthy then it might be time for a trip to the vet.
Other Reasons Your Dog Might Have Bad Breath
Although periodontal disease is a common cause of extremely bad doggy breath it bears keeping in mind that there may also be other reasons why your pup’s breath might smell so bad. This is why it is so important to take your dog to the vet when you notice over the top bad dog breath. Here are just a few more causes of bad breath:
Sometimes bad dog breath can be caused by a foreign item or substance being stuck in your dog’s mouth/ teeth. Vets have seen pretty much everything from bones to sticks lodged in dogs’ mouths that their owners hadn’t spotted. Additionally, if your dog is prone to eating non-food items like feces or garbage that can also cause pretty bad doggy breath.
Failure of your dog’s kidney or kidney disease can cause bad breath that often smells like ammonia. This is because the waste that is normal processed by the kidneys builds up in the blood stream and then can present the bad smell in your dog’s mouth.
Although your dog’s teeth and gums can be the cause of bad breath, oral tumors may also be a potential issue. Oral tumors often grow too fast for blood vessels to keep up with supplying fresh blood and this can create areas of dead tissue in your dog’s mouth. These dead tissue areas start to rot and thus the bad dog breath. Oral tumors can vary in size and shape so if you happen to notice any discoloration or masses in your dog’s mouth make sure it gets checked out by a veterinarian.
Diabetes, especially diabetic ketoacidosis can make your dog’s breath smell particularly bad. If your dog has untreated diabetes you might notice a sweet, almost fruity smell emanating from your pooch’s mouth. If left untreated diabetes can suppress your dog’s immune system thus allowing bacteria to flourish in your dog’s mouth producing a strong smell.
Genetics is a Factor in Dental Health
Although any dog can develop major dental issues like periodontal disease there are breeds which are more susceptible to mouth problems. Lots of toy breeds like Yorkies, Pomeranians, and Poodles and longer-snouted breeds like Collies tend to be more prone to oral issues. Talk to your veterinarian at your annual check up to determine your options for maintaining your dog’s best oral hygiene.
Brush Those Pearly Whites
Because dental or periodontal disease is most often the cause of bad doggy breath the most simple way to prevent any issues in the first place is to simply brush your dog’s teeth regularly. Find a toothpaste that your dog likes such as chicken, beef, or even vanilla. Believe it or not these flavors do exist! Just be sure to avoid human toothpastes because the flouride content of these pastes can be toxic to pets. I also typically use a toddler toothbrush which works great to fit in any size dog mouth and has softer bristles. Start small by brushing daily for 15-30 seconds at a time and gradually work up to longer brushing time around 2 mins or so. Once your dog has good dental health you shouldn’t need to brush your dog’s teeth more than 2-3 times a week to maintain good oral hygiene. Here is a great video on how to brush your dog’s teeth correctly.
If your dog has a large build up of plaque and tartar then a trip to the vet is in order. Your vet will be able to scale your dog’s teeth and scrape away all of that gunk. Additionally, if there is substantial tooth decay below the gum line your vet can extract those teeth that could eventually cause issues down the line.
Even if you brush your dog’s teeth regularly, over time plaque and tartar will slowly build up requiring a trip to the vet for a deep clean. This is completely normal and isn’t cause for alarm. Plaque and tartar accumulation is only a concern when it happens over a shorter period of time due to poor dental maintenance (ie. minimal to no brushing of your dog’s teeth).
Try a Dental Chew to Complement Brushing
While a regular brushing routine can help keep major dental problems like periodontal disease at bay a dog safe dental chew can do a lot to help support this. I use a special water additive that helps prevent plaque from sticking to my pup’s teeth. It is great because I just add the recommended amount to my dogs’ water dish when refilling it and they don’t even know it’s in there because it has no taste!
Another product I add to my dogs’ dental hygiene routine are chew toys and dental chew treats. I prefer to use appropriately sized Nylabones in the mid to harder range as it provides my pups not only the opportunity to chew and get excess energy out, but the act of chewing in itself scrapes my dogs’ teeth and thus is another form of brushing. I tend to avoid raw hides as they have been shown to be quite difficult to many dogs to digest and can cause gastrointestinal issues.
In terms of dental chew treats my two enjoy pretty much any flavor of Greenies, but there are lots of options out there so do your research and take the time to figure out what your pup likes. Lots of pet stores sell dental chews individually so you’ll be able to test each type out without breaking the bank! And again, the dental chews offer another opportunity for scraping the teeth, plus Greenies are made with all natural ingredients and are easy to digest. This is especially important for my two because they have sensitive tummies and Greenies have never been an issue for them. But remember that chew toys and dental chew treats are not meant to be a substitute for regular tooth brushing.
Try Fresh Parsley
Adding a little fresh chopped parsley to your dog’s food can help combat stinky breath barring any other oral health issues. So why does the old adage of parsley help with bad breath? This is because parsley is naturally anti-microbial and is effective in preventing the growth and multiplication of bacteria and other germs in your dog’s mouth.
Annual Vet Visits
One of the easiest ways to combat oral health issues and bad doggy breath is to make sure you get your precious pup in for those annual vet visits. Your veterinarian will be able to take thorough look at your dog’s mouth to make sure there aren’t any major issues or dental disease. They’ll also be able to give you advice on how best to take care of your dog’s oral hygiene whether that is through special food additives, how to brush your dog’s teeth correctly, or when your dog is expected to need a deep clean.
And if you ever notice your dog having a hard time chewing, bleeding gums, loose teeth, or nasal discharge visit the vet immediately. They’ll be able to better assess the situation and help make sure your dog gets back into tip top shape.
*This is not a sponsored post.
**The Woof Warehouse is not a specialist or expert in the health of dogs. We always recommend seeing your vet for the best care of your beloved pups.