Why Does Your Dog Have Bad Breath?


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Everyone knows bad breath โ€“ also known as halitosis โ€“ when they smell it. When odor-producing bacteria builds up in the mouth, gut or lungs, it causes bad breath. If it is persistent, it is a sign that your dog needs better dental care or can indicate problems with its kidneys, liver or gastrointestinal tract.

What are the possible causes?

A lot of the times, bad breath is caused by gum or dental disease, and some dogs โ€“ especially small ones โ€“ are prone to tartar and plaque. If it continues, it indicates a problem with the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system or internal organs.

How can you determine the exact cause?

The veterinarian is the best person to pinpoint the cause. Laboratory work and physical examination may be performed. You should be ready to answer questions about the exercise habits, oral hygiene, diet, and general behavior of your dog.

Is it time to see the vet?

If your dog's bad breath has an unusual smell all of a sudden, it's time to consult the veterinarian. The following cases indicate medical problems that need immediate attention and treatment:

  • Unusually fruity or sweety breath could be an indicator of diabetes, especially if your dog is urinating and drinking more than usual.
  • If your dog's breath smells like urine, it could indicate kidney disease.
  • Foul odor accompanied by lack of appetite, vomiting and yellow-tinged gums or corneas could indicate a liver problem.
How is it treated?

The proper course of treatment depends on the veterinarian's diagnosis. If your dog is suffering from plaques, he might require professional cleaning. If it is a diet issue, you may have to change your dog's regular food. If the cause is an abnormality in the liver, lungs, kidneys or gastrointestinal tract, follow what the doctor says.

How can you prevent your dog from having bad breath?

A lot of people assume that after a certain age, bad breath in dogs is a โ€œgivenโ€. However, that's not the case. Being proactive about your dog's health is smart preventive medicine and will make your's and your dog's life easier.

  • Take your dog for regular checkups to make sure that there is no underlying condition that is causing halitosis.
  • Ensure that the vet tracks and monitors the state of your dog's breath and teeth.
  • Feed your dog food that is easy to digest and of high quality.
  • Brush your dog's teeth frequently. You should take care to use toothpaste formulated especially for canines, as human toothpaste can upset your dog's stomach.
  • Provide safe and hard chew toys that will clean your dog's teeth by the natural process of chewing.
  • Give your pet treats that are formulated to improve the odor of their breath.
  • Discuss oral health products with your vet and see if there is a type that he or she recommends.
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