Dental issues are the most common cause of bad breath in dogs. But what if there is something else going on?
Potential causes of bad breath in dogs include:
- gum or periodontal disease
- tooth abscess
- foreign bodies
- systemic issues such as GI, metabolic, respiratory or autoimmune disease
In any case, foul breath alerts you to a problem that can even be life-threatening in some cases. So don’t look for ways to mask the odor; look for the underlying cause. And don’t forget that bad teeth can be extremely painful.
Further reading: Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Penny was a senior Shetland Sheepdog, her mom’s pride and joy. How readily one notices foul breath odor depends on how close their relationship is. Penny and her mom were close, and Penny liked spending time on mom’s lap, snuggling her muzzle against her face. So it is no surprise that her mom noticed Penny’s stinky breath right away.
The smell was so bad that at first, Penny’s mom didn’t realize where it was coming from. Did Penny roll in something nasty? Ate something naughty?
Her mom checked Penny all over but didn’t find the source of the odor. Finally, it became clear it was coming from Penny’s mouth. Immediately, her mom suspected a dental problem and made an appointment with their veterinarian.
At the veterinarian
Indeed, Penny’s mouth had all sorts of problems going on—not that surprising in a senior dog. Her mouth was inflamed, teeth had tartar build-up, several had infected roots, and some were loose.
Penny needed dental work. Yet, the veterinarian felt that even all that wouldn’t explain the terrible odor. His instinct was telling him something else was amiss.
Nevertheless, he booked Penny for dental work, hoping that the problem becomes apparent while he gets a closer look.
Penny’s dental procedure
Once Penny was under anesthesia, the veterinarian had good access to her mouth to remedy her dental problems and have a good look. The smell coming out of Penny’s mouth was horrid—as if something died in there.
The veterinarian cleaned Penny’s teeth and removed the rotten ones. As he was doing that, the attending nurse noticed something out of the ordinary. A cylindrical piece of plastic covered one of Penny’s teeth, half-buried in Penny’s gums. As a result, Penny developed a deep, infected ulcer at the site.
At some point, Penny must have been chewing on a piece of wire, and a section of the plastic got pushed over one of her teeth.
As soon as the veterinarian removed the plastic and cleaned out the ulcer, the smell subsided. By the time her mom picked Penny from the hospital, the bad smell was gone.