How to fix a dog’s bad breath
Dog breath shouldn’t be smelly breath. If you are starting to smell unpleasant odours coming out of your dog’s mouth, they may have a problem. Bad breath is normally the result of bacteria build-up in your dog’s mouth, lungs or stomach. If you’re only smelling it infrequently, it may be the result of something they’ve eaten. But if their breath always smells bad, it could be time to take them to see the vet.
What causes bad breath in dogs?
The most common cause of bad breath is Gum disease. This is caused by plaque and tartar accumulation that produces reddened, inflamed and often bleeding gums. Food particles that remain in the mouth after eating can become breeding grounds for bacteria and quickly form plaque, an invisible coating on the teeth. Plaque eventually combines with minerals in saliva and forms hardened tartar.
Smaller dogs and flat-faced, brachycephalic breeds, like French Bulldogs, are most prone to these issues as their teeth are closer together than larger breeds. In certain, less frequent cases, bad breath may also be due to disease in other parts of the body, such as gastrointestinal, respiratory or kidney disease.
What to look for if you’re smelling bad breath
Signs of a healthy mouth in your dog are pink gums, even gum lines, and clean teeth that are whole and undamaged. Tartar appears as a brownish tinge or dark brown spots on the teeth. Tartar build-up, inflamed gums and – in more extreme cases – loose, rotting teeth are generally the most obvious signs of gum disease.
How to treat bad breath in a dog
If your dog’s breath smells bad and that smell isn’t going away, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet. More than likely, it will be an issue with your dog’s oral health. Your vet will help to rule out any of the more serious, less likely potential causes and give you an integrated treatment plan to help overcome the problem and prevent it from returning.
How to prevent bad breath in dogs
To help maintain your dog’s oral health and prevent some of the common causes of bad breath occurring in the first place, the best solution is to do what you do for your own oral health and brush their teeth. If you make daily or weekly brushing part of their routine (ideally from the time they’re a puppy) you’ll find you have a lot less issues with bad breath and the other problems that can come with poor oral hygiene.
If you do brush their teeth, it’s important to never use human toothpaste on your dog. A number of the ingredients are not suitable for animals and may cause them to have digestive issues. There are many toothpastes specifically designed for dogs that are flavour enhanced to make the experience a little easier for you and for them.
For those who don't think their dog would accept a toothbrush, our blog on How to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth has some great advice about how to get your dog used to having their teeth cleaned. If this still isn't for you, it's worth considering dental treats and rubber chew toys. They are a more expensive option than a toothbrush, but will help loosen plaque and polish up your dog's teeth.
Your vet may also suggest a change in diet to a formula specifically designed for dogs prone to dental health issues. A specialised formula such as ROYAL CANIN®’s Dental diet helps keep teeth clean in two ways. The kibble’s mineral composition helps stop plaque turning into hard tartar and the kibble’s size, shape and texture produce a mechanical brushing effect on teeth.