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Bad Breath in Dogs: Causes & Remedies

Your dog might be adorable, but does their breath repel you? While bad breath is common for our canine friends, it can also be a symptom of serious health issues. Our Central Illinois vets explain what could be causing your dog's bad breath and how you can help treat or prevent the culprit.

What Causes Bad Breath in Dogs?

You're one among many dog parents if you've ever recoiled after getting a whiff of your dog's breath when they come in for a kiss. While it's common for our pups to have a bit of a scent on their breath after playing with toys, eating or just generally living their lives, bad breath in dogs can sometimes develop into a stink that repels all but the bravest of owners. 

And while you might be tempted to just grin and bear the smell, more often than not that stink on your dog's bad breath can actually point to an underlying health issue that's causing the smell. A range of different potential causes can be to blame, but the most common are oral health issues, kidney disease and liver disease. 

Kidney Disease

Does your pup's bad breath smell like urine or feces? This may be a symptom that they have recently eaten poop (which is something that should be looked into) or a symptom of kidney problems. 

If your dog's kidney's aren't functioning properly to filter and process toxins and waste materials, their buildup in your pooch's body can contribute to the bad smell on their breath, in addition to harming your dog's health. 

Liver Disease

Has your dog's bad breath recently grown worse? If you notice their new scent is accompanied by concerning symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, liver disease might be at the centre of their symptoms. 

Oral Health Issues

Oral health issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs and can cover many problems ranging from tooth decay to oral infections and gum diseae. Regardless of the exact cause, food debris and bacteria accumulate over time in your pup's mouth if not regularly brushed away. Plaque and a persistent smell will develop. 

If your dog's breath smells slightly, emerging oral health issues are likely the culprit. However, left unchecked, the bad breath will develop into a much stronger odour and your pet's oral health and well-being will continue to decline.

How to Treat Bad Breath in Dogs?

The reason why your dog has bad breath will largely influence the kind of treatment they will require. Since bad breath is a sign of an underlying health condition rather than a health problem itself, it should dissipate once the underlying problem is successfully treated.

That being said, whenever you notice a change in the smell of your dog's breath you shouldn't assume its cause or that it is normal. Bring your pup to your vet as soon as possible for examination and diagnosis, since a number of causes of bad breath can be very serious health issues. 

Treatments at your vets can range from prescription medications, specialized diets, therapies and even surgeries to help treat your pet's condition depending on what part of their body it affects and its severity. Your vet will be able to advise you on what the best course of treatment is for the health issue underlying your pup's bad breath. 

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

While you aren't able to treat kidney or liver disease at home, one way you can help to 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.

You should brush your dog's teeth every day, spending the time when they are young to help them get used to the experience of tooth brushing.

Either in addition to this or if you aren't able to train your pup to tolerate brushing, instead of brushing, there are also a wide variety of dental chews and dog food designed to promote oral health available.

Ask your vet what kinds of oral health products they recommend for helping your dog to stave off bad breath.

When it comes to preventing internal organ failure or disease affecting your dog's liver or kidneys, there are also a couple of easy measures you can take to help your pup avoid these causes of bad breath.

Some human medications, common houseplants and foods that are safe for our consumption are actually quite toxic for our pets. Make sure you are aware of what kinds of substances you have in your home that could cause organ disease or failure in your pooch and keep them out of reach as much as possible.

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.

Has your dog's breath grown noticeably worse? Do you find you dread puppy kisses? Contact us today to book an examination for your pooch. Our Central Illinois vets can diagnose and treat bad breath in dogs, and ensure your pooch receives appropriate dental care.

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