Beastly Breath

Halitosis can strike your dog like a bolt out of nowhere and can cause a rift between the closeness the two of you share. Halitosis, or bad breath, can have many causes ranging from simple to severe. Contrary to what you may believe, dogs do not normally have bad breath. When you notice a ghastly odor in between those doggy kisses, you will need to get to the bottom of it.

What Causes Bad Breath?
Halitosis is usually caused by a build-up of plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth, or by some type of dental or gum disease. Small dog breeds are affected by this more often than large breed dogs; however, any dog can have this problem. If this is the root of the problem, you will be able to see it. Does your dog have yellow teeth? Can you see layers of yellow plaque around your dog’s gums and teeth? Do you see red or swollen gums? These are all things that can be fixed. If you don’t notice anything odd about your dog’s mouth and if the problem is ongoing, your dog could possibly be suffering from a more complex medical problem related to his mouth, respiratory system, organs, or GI tract.

Veterinary Intervention
Like I have said before, dog’s don’t usually have bad breath. If you suddenly notice that there’s a horrendous odor coming from your dog’s mouth, it is time to consult with a vet. There are some things that you can watch for in particular that could indicate a more serious problem.

  • Unusually sweet or fruity odors could be indicative of diabetes. This could be a tell-tale sign when accompanied by unusually frequent drinking and urination.
  • Breath that smells like urine could indicate a kidney problem.
  • Extremely foul smelling breath could indicate a liver problem when accompanied by yellowing of the eyes and gums, decreased appetite, and vomiting.

Treating Halitosis
Depending on what your veterinarian says, treating the halitosis could be as simple as brushing his teeth. If the underlying reason for your dog’s bad breath is plaque (which it commonly is) you may need to schedule a professional cleaning for him. This can be a real bear, and some dogs require sedation in order to successfully complete the job. If the issue is with his diet, simply change it to something healthier and more digestible. There are many recommendations on the internet for changing your dog’s diet for any particular reason. If the problem stems from a medical issue, only you and your vet will be able to determine the best outcome for his unique situation.

Bad Breath Prevention
Don’t feel bad or embarrassed that your dog has bad breath. Lots of dogs will experience it from time to time but if it stems from a real medical emergency, it’s best that you catch it and treat it quickly.

  • Get regular check-ups at the vet and have his teeth professionally cleaned once per year
  • Feed him high-quality pet foods that are easy to digest
  • Brush his teeth a few times per week with a specially-formulated dog toothpaste
  • Feed him breath-freshening treats every day
  • Provide plenty of hard chew toys to reduce plaque and keep his teeth clean

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