Is Bad Breath an Emergency?

Is Bad Breath an Emergency?

When I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, at the end of each chapter I included a little call-out when each of them might be an emergency. Well, I meant to. There were some chapters where I skipped it because while some of the symptoms might almost never be an emergency, under certain conditions, they could be. When I had hubby go over it, though, he pointed out that as a reader he’d want it included with every chapter.

While that was challenging, with additional though I did manage to add that section to every chapter.

I managed to include that section to the chapter on bad odor too.

Let’s start with the potential reasons behind bad breath.

The number one reason, as you’d suspect, is dental disease. Bad teeth or diseased mouth do require veterinary attention, but it’s not an emergency unless it involves an extreme amount of pain. Though don’t forget it always involves pain.

Other reasons that can cause bad breath in your dog include:

  • kidney disease/kidney failure
  • liver disease or other issues within the gastrointestinal tract
  • poisoning
  • diabetes/diabetic ketoacidosis
  • foreign bodies
  • oral tumors
Of course, when your dog’s breath stinks after they sampled something foul such as their own or other animal’s feces, it might get you running, but you don’t need to be running to a vet.
The lack of presence of other symptoms also presents a consideration in determining how soon you should see a vet. These can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, jaundice …

If your dog’s breath smells of ammonia or it has a strong sweet, fruity odor, treat it as an emergency.

Breath smelling of ammonia (urine) is a warning sign of kidney disease/failure.
Breath that smells like acetone/sweet, fruity smell is a warning sign of diabetic ketoacidosis.
So while generally, bad breath is not an emergency, under the right circumstances it can be a sign of one.

Categories: ConditionsEmergencies

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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