Dog breath. It’s an insult so common that you might be fooled into thinking your dog’s stinky breath is totally normal. And it’s true that few dogs have breath that smell like mint or violets. They don’t have the same dental hygiene habits that we do, which means a bit of halitosis is to be expected. However, there’s dog breath and then there’s dog-who-just-ate-rotten-roadkill breath. How can you tell the difference?
Is bad breath in dogs a sign of illness?
Bad breath comes in a wide array of aromas, and each has the potential to tell you something about your pet’s health. For example, if your dog’s breath smells like feces or urine, it could mean he’s raided the litter box. But it can also be a symptom of kidney issues. If your dog’s breath has a sweet scent, it could indicate diabetes. If you’re unsure whether your dog’s bad breath is symptomatic of an illness, look for other symptoms, like:
- Bad breath accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea
- Bad breath accompanied by lethargy
- Bad breath accompanied by sensitivity around the mouth
- Bad breath accompanied by lack of appetite and weight loss
- Bad breath accompanied by more frequent urination
If your dog’s bad breath is only one symptom among many, discuss all of the symptoms with your vet in order to prevent or address a more serious medical issue. If it’s just plain old bad breath, there’s still something you can do to improve matters.
What can I do about my dog’s bad breath?
If you’ve ruled out potential health issues, your dog probably just has stinky breath. Fortunately, you can make some improvements there as well.
Just like you, dogs benefit from regular dental hygiene practices. Try brushing his teeth with a canine toothbrush and toothpaste to prevent the buildup of plaque. The younger the pup is when you start the practice, the easier it’ll be for everyone.
Try dental products
If you weren’t able to train a dog to regular brushing, special products like dental treats can also help remove plaque and promote oral health. Likewise, special water additives and dog foods with an oral health focus can reduce plaque buildup and improve oral hygiene.
Schedule annual maintenance
Dogs also benefit from a regular dental health checkup. This provides your vet with a baseline and comparison that spans your pet’s lifetime. If your pet’s breath has become abnormally offensive, your vet will likely the irregularity and consider it within the context of your pet’s overall health.
- Out of character irritability
- Abnormal chewing or drooling
- Difficulty holding food in the mouth
- Pain in or around the mouth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
- Cysts or tumors in the mouth
Dog breath may never be a thing of the past. After all, dogs like to put smelly things in their mouths, so a little funk comes with the territory. However, oral hygiene plays a big role in your pup’s quality of life. Your pet’s health is the most important thing to us, and good health starts with regular maintenance. If you need to schedule your pup’s annual maintenance, call Dove Creek Animal Hospital or Gloves City Veterinary Hospital at (518) 627-9762.