Have you always figured bad breath was normal, so you just accepted it?
Well, it turns out it isn’t normal, and it’s time to do something about it!
Bad breath, or Halitosis, is usually caused by gum or dental disease, and means better care of your dog’s teeth is required. However, it could also signal other problems like metabolic disorder, respiratory problems, gut or internal organ issues, or your dog is simply eating feces.
In older dogs, liver and kidney disease often affect the mouth. Conversely, dental disease can affect the liver and kidneys. The bacteria that grows when tartar builds up around the teeth can break loose and enter the blood stream, lodging in crevices in the kidneys, liver and on valves of the heart.
Red recently started having bad breath, which came at the same time as she had lost a bit of interest in eating. It turns out she had an infection, and we quickly sorted that out.
Whatever the cause, you need to make an appointment to see your vet, sooner rather than later.
Let’s talk prevention
Just like we keep our teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing and cleaning, the same can be done for our dogs.
Brush your dog’s teeth every day, if possible. If not, even a couple of times a week will help. Toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes, and some even fit on your finger. Don’t forget the doggy toothpaste! A liquid antiplaque solution is available to pour into your dog’s drinking water. Hard chew toys, and dental chews will also help.
Having said all this, if you do notice bad breath, the above measures will simply mask the underlying cause, so please see your vet.
Usually the only symptom is bad breath, but you may notice your dog pawing at his mouth, struggling to eat dry food or cookies, or even drooling. Perhaps your dog seems a bit withdrawn, or not himself. Changes in behaviour may be another indicator.
What can I do?
The only thing you can do is make sure he sees the vet as soon as possible.
When should I see my vet?
If you notice a change in your dog’s breath, it almost always signals a medical condition of some sort, so see your vet immediately. No changes in behaviour, eating or sleeping patterns should ever go unchecked.
A routine examination of your dog’s mouth will quickly show evidence of periodontal disease. X rays are often needed to get a more complete picture. If his teeth are fine, and there is no obvious explanation for bad breath, your vet will want other tests to check for possible causes. Those tests can include: blood tests, urine, ultrasound…
Don’t worry, your vet will explain it all.
Treatment will, of course, depend on the cause. If it’s strictly periodontal disease, your vet will sedate your dog to give him a good cleaning, and extract any teeth that have to come out. He’ll explain the procedure to you. If bad breath is the result of your dog’s diet, a change may be recommended.
If tests revealed another reason, your vet will come up with an appropriate treatment plan.
Periodontal disease can be managed with regular checkups, brushing, dental chews, and antiplaque solution – like mouthwash.
Again, if the reason is something else, management will depend on the condition, but can include medication, regular checks and follow up testing.
Don’t waste time looking all over the internet for possible causes, to figure out what’s going on. I purposely kept this article nice and straightforward, so you’ll see the best course of action is a trip to your trusty veterinarian. He’ll get you all the answers you need.
Bad breath in dogs - conclusion
Just as we go for regular dental checkups, so should our dogs. Bad breath in dogs need to be investigated as quickly as possible, because it means something is wrong.