Looking for recommendations for dealing with stinky dog breath is one of the most common questions people ask. How can you fix your dog’s bad breath?
Your dog can get bad breath from eating something deliciously rotten. That, of course, doesn’t count.
However, unless your dog just feasted on something nasty, bad breath is not the real problem–the cause behind it is. Mint might mask the odor but it is not a likely solution.
If your dog has stinky breath, it’s more than a nuisance. If your dog has persistently bad breath, it’s time for a vet visit. Why?
The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is a dental or gum disease.
Now, dental disease is not an immediate rush-to-the-emergency-vet type of threat, but it isn’t something to ignore either. Bad teeth are not just a cosmetic issue. They can be extremely painful and even lead to systemic disease! The bacteria from an infected mouth can get into the bloodstream and from there it has a free pass to about anywhere. That includes the heart, kidneys, and even the brain.
Roxy presumably succumbed to a brain infection that started as a tooth abscess.
Moreover, any chronic, festering inflammation increases the risk of cancer. That includes an inflamed, infected mouth.
You can read more about it in an earlier article When Bad Breath Can Kill!
If your dog has bad breath; discolored, loose, broken or missing teeth; red swollen gums that bleed easily; a painful mouth; or drools excessively, please have those teeth taken care of.
Don’t expect to see a lot with your eyes. Even slight reddening along the gumline or a bit of tartar on the very back teeth can be just a tip of the iceberg — most dental problems hide under the surface. Just because your dog is still eating, doesn’t mean their mouth is not a source of great pain.
The more severely your dog’s mouth smells, the bigger and more urgent the problem.
Gum or periodontal disease isn’t all that can go wrong in your dog’s mouth. A tooth abscess can cause severe pain and turn into a medical disaster. Foreign bodies in the mouth such as shards of bone or sticks can even lead to necrosis–that’s what you’d be smelling – dead tissue.
If your dog got a piece of bone or stick stuck in their mouth the wrong way, it might end with emergency surgery. The sooner you identify the problem and have it taken care of, the better. It might not always be as dire but it always is a potential disaster in the making.
Dental disease is a serious issue but it is not the only potential cause of bad breath.
Oral growths, benign or cancerous, can be behind your dog’s stinky breath.
If your dog’s breath smells bad, the mouth is the first thing to check.
Other symptoms of an oral problem can include:
- excessive drooling
- pawing at the mouth
- painful mouth sensitive to touch
- changes in eating and chewing habits
- abnormal discharge from mouth, nose or eyes
All these signs indicate very advanced disease.
There are, however, causes of bad breath that have nothing to do with the mouth.
Bad breath can also be a symptom of other serious health issues such as gastrointestinal, respiratory or autoimmune diseases; and metabolic disorders.
A problem anywhere within the gastrointestinal tract can cause foul breath. That includes not only the stomach but the esophagus and intestines.
Severe kidney disease or kidney failure can cause significantly foul breath as well as ulceration and other abnormalities in the mouth.
Other symptoms of kidney failure include:
- increased thirst and urination
- loss of appetite
- diarrhea or constipation
- weight loss
- blood in urine
Diabetic ketoacidosis can make your dog’s breath smell like fruit or nail polish. That is an emergency. (Note: not everybody is able to smell ketones)
Other symptoms of diabetes include:
- either increased thirst and urination
- loss of appetite
- weakness and lethargy
- muscle wasting and weakness
- weight loss
Btw, can you see how many symptoms overlap with different diseases?
Friends from the dog park had a dog that suddenly started having terrible breath. They figured his teeth needed cleaning and scheduled an appointment for the procedure. When they finally got him in, the veterinarian found their dog was in kidney failure. They had one day to say goodbye to him!
To top it off, some poisons, if ingested, can cause foul breath in your dog too.
Any poisoning is an emergency. Bad breath, though, isn’t likely the only sign you’ll see. Other symptoms of poisoning in dogs include a broad range of signs including
- breathing difficulties
Other symptoms of rat poisoning in dogs depend on the type of poison.
Symptoms of anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning include:
- unexplained bruising
- bloody vomiting
- blood in stool
- difficulty breathing
- weakness and ataxia
Symptoms of bromethalin rodenticide poisoning include:
- loss of appetite
- impaired movement
- hind limb paralysis
If your dog’s breath smells terrible, understand what might be behind it.
Chronically bad breath is likely to have different causes than a bad breath that crops up quickly. As with any other symptoms, the speed of onset is one of the indicators telling you how quickly you need to see a veterinarian.
When Bad Breath Can Kill
7 Reasons Your Dog Has Bad Breath