Dog breath isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world, but it shouldn’t be the worst thing either. In fact, a dog’s breath should always be fairly consistent. If you notice your dog’s breath smelling particularly foul, there’s a good chance that something is wrong.
Bad breath in a dog, also known as halitosis, could be an indication of several different health issues, but is most often the result of a select few. Fortunately, most of the causes of bad dog breath can be easily addressed if caught early.
Before getting into how to treat your dog’s bad breath, let’s first examine what some of the causes could be.
The most widespread cause of bad dog breath is periodontal disease. This occurs whenever food particles and bacteria accumulate around a dog’s gum line and form plaque. This plaque will then harden and form calculus, which also results in gingivitis.
This begins with just some redness and inflammation on the gums. At this point, some minor cleaning can help alleviate the problem before it gets worse.
Eventually, the calculus will build up more and more, resulting in a separation of the gum from the teeth. This is usually when dog owners begin to notice an issue. Bacteria then enters into the created space, and continues to fester and later eat away at the bone. At this point, bad breath is highly likely and very noticeable if so.
The disease will continue to eat away at the tooth while causing more separation from the gums. Bad breath should be more than noticeable by this stage.
If left untreated, the tooth will be eaten away to a point where it has to be extracted rather than repaired. This situation is not ideal, and should be avoided if at all possible.
Other causes of persistent bad breath can come from infections in the respiratory system, stomach, and intestinal tract. These are all symptoms of much larger issues that should be addressed.
Aside from the obvious bad breath and redness in your dog’s mouth, there are a few other ways to know if something is wrong with its dental health.
You may begin to notice your dog eating less, or eating much slower. Your dog may also have trouble picking up food with their mouth. Traces of blood in their water bowl is an obvious sign of trouble, as is your dog recoiling when you pat them on the head.
Even though you may not notice their breath yet, these signs are telling you to, and also set up an appointment with your vet.
If your dog’s bad breath is persistent, it’s best to visit your veterinarian. Your vet can perform a full examination, and will most likely inquire with you about dental hygiene, eating habits, and exercise habits.
The actual treatment for your dog’s breath depends on what the diagnosis ends up being. If the cause revolves around dental health, your dog may benefit from a cleaning. Antibiotics may be prescribed to clear up infections and get rid of bacteria accumulation.
If your dog’s diet is the cause, expect to change your dog’s food and feeding habits.
Your dog’s breath shouldn’t be ignored. Bad breath is not something that is supposed to be a given just because it’s a dog. The bad breath should alert you to potential issues.
With that said, there are numerous steps you can take to prevent your dog’s breath from going bad in the first place. Taking a proactive approach keeps your dog’s mouth healthy and clean, and avoids painful and costly dental issues down the road.
Food: This is a big one. Take measures to feed your dog a reputable and quality brand of dog food that lacks in fillers and features wholesome, natural ingredients. Avoid anything sugary, including fruits. Human food such as brown rice, carrots, and natural peanut butter are okay from time to time.
Checkups: Maintain a regular schedule with your dog and veterinarian. Frequent visits can help your vet keep tabs on your dog’s dental health, and spring into action at the first sign of a problem.
Brushing: In case you didn’t know, you can brush your dog’s teeth. Novel idea, huh? There are plenty of products available that can help you with this process. Daily brushings can go a long way in ensuring optimal dental health.
Dental Products: Numerous options exist when it comes to other helpful dental products. Dental sprays such as this one from Healthy Clean Pet can effectively freshen your dog’s breath in just a few sprays, while also protecting against calculus and plaque development.
Dental Chews: Certain dog toys and chews are actually designed to clean your dog’s teeth as they chew on them. Keeping a few of these readily available and spread through your home not only gives your dog something to do, but cleaner teeth with no effort on your part.
Dental Treats: Treats for your dog that are geared towards dental health can help freshen breath as well, Giving your dog a few of these throughout the week will keep their breath smelling fresh.
Combining these products with a little common sense, awareness, and vet checkups will ensure that your dog’s mouth is always smelling fresh and clean, along with avoiding serious dental issues that could escalate.
Even if your dog has a history of ideal dental health, it’s still best to constantly check your dog’s mouth at least once per week, paying close attention to any redness or abnormalities. As the dog gets older, dental issues may begin to creep up much faster.