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Why Does My Dog's Breath Smell? Causes & Remedies

While we don't expect our dogs to have the most pleasant breath, sometimes it goes beyond the usual puppy breath. If this happens it may be time to visit the vet.  Our Argyle vets discuss why your dog's breath may smell and what you can do about it.

Why does my dog have smelly breath?

We have come to expect bad breath from our pups to an extent, hence the saying "puppy breath". Our dogs pick up a variety of smells as they explore their world using their mouth most of the time. They chew on things they find outside, things they find inside, and all sorts of food, treats and toys, but sometimes this smell can sometimes grow into a stink that repels all but the bravest pup parents.

While we usually shrug it off there is a good reason why you should take the smell seriously and have your pet looked at. 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 Concerns

One of the most common reasons for bad breath in dogs is underlying health concerns and conditions. These dental health issues that affect your dogs can range from conditions such as 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. 

It is a good idea to consider that any bad smell that you discover coming from your pup's mouth may be linked to unwanted oral hygiene issues. Although if they are left unchecked, the smell will become much stronger and your pet's oral health and wellbeing will continue to decline. 

Kidney Disease

You may notice that your dog's breath smells like feces or urine. While this could be a clear indication that they have eaten poop recently (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 started to vomit or experience diarrhea along with their terrible breath then you should have them examined immediately as liver disease could potentially be the underlying cause of their symptoms. 

What Can I Do To Treat My Dog's Stinky Breath?

The treatment option that your vet decides upon for your dog will depend on what condition they have diagnosed your dog with. Once your dog has started treatment for the underlying condition you should also begin to notice a difference in their breath.

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 Other Steps Can I Take To Improve My Dogs Breath?

Treating various serious conditions such as liver or kidney disease isn't exactly an option from the comforts of your home but you are able to help 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.

If your dog has been experiencing worse than normal breath please contact our Argyle vets to book an appointment for your dog.

Looking for a new veterinarian in Argyle?

Contact (940) 464-3231