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Does Your Dog Have Bad Breath?

Updated on October 26, 2013

“Do you know the feeling when you want to hug your dog, and all of a sudden, there is this super gross smell that almost knocks you off your feet?” asks PETS-N-THINGS ONLINE.

Thankfully, I don't. But what kind of breath do you expect from an animal that likes to smell your butt? Nevertheless, you can take some action to improve Fido's unpleasant exhalations.

Go ahead. Smell his breath.
Go ahead. Smell his breath. | Source

A Doggie Dental Visit

A prime cause of dog halitosis is periodontal disease. That means a trip to the doggie dentist for a complete oral exam with X-rays. No problem. It’s covered by your dog’s health plan. Your dog does have a health plan, right?

The Dog Dental Care site gives the example of a health plan that runs $46.59 per month with a $100 deductible for a six-year-old Wheaten Terrier, which I'm assuming is some kind of dog. So, this … uhh … Wheaten whatever rings up $559 in health insurance premiums each year. I hope Rover has a job, because I can’t afford his health insurance.


“Symptoms such as poor appetite, excessive drooling and teeth becoming loose would be indicators that something may be seriously wrong,” advises PETS-N-THINGS ONLINE. I'm glad they pointed that out, because otherwise I wouldn't have thought twice if my dog's teeth were loose. Drooling could be a tricky one. The way some of these dogs slobber on everything, who's to know what's excessive?


How's your dog's breath? How's yours?

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The site recommends brushing the dog's teeth—at least the ones that aren't falling out—with dog toothpaste. On Amazon they sell a tube of poultry-flavored Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste for $9.72, which is about ten times what I pay for my human toothpaste. What's that? Your dog prefers beef? No problem. They even have peanut flavor. Then there is the Triple Pet Toothbrush, which looks like some kind of sex toy. No, I will not tell you how I know that. Add a dog tooth scaler and you've spent north of a double sawbuck. You can forget about the $30 PetzLife Salmon-flavored gel and Peppermint Spray.

According to the Pampered Dog Blog, up to 90 percent of dogs have bad breath. This is because few canines receive proper dental care, or any at all, for that matter. The result is plaque, cavities or periodontal disease, which manifest themselves whenever Rex breathes on his lucky owner. Small dogs and those with flat faces, such as a Pug, Boston Terrier or Pekingese, are more prone to these conditions because their teeth are close together, sayspetMD.

Bad breath can also be caused by conditions such as diabetes mellitus, inflamed nasal passages or sinuses, and gastrointestinal issues. Dogs can have bad breath due to an injury from biting an electric cord, or from eating certain foods. I suppose you can identify an electric-cord injury by sudden standing up of every hair on the animal's body.

Dogs that eat feces can also have bad breath, reports petMD. Gee, you think? And you're keeping this animal in your home, and maybe even giving him kisses.

Treating Canine Halitosis

Dr. Ronald Hines outlines a treatment program on his website.

Take your pet to the vet for annual checkups, including a dental examination.

Feed your dog dry food. Canned food can lead to rapid plaque buildup. Some brands include enzymes to help dissolve plaque.

Give your dog chewy treats, bones and rawhide impregnated with enzymes to reduce plaque. Dr. Hines says that dog biscuits are not useful for this purpose. Heavy shin and shank bones are best if you give your dog real bones.

Brush your dog's teeth regularly. You don't need much toothpaste, as the brushing is the key. Concentrate on the gum margins.

Sprays and mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine help dissolve plaque and reduce bacteria, but these are not a substitute for brushing.

This canine practices proper oral hygiene.
This canine practices proper oral hygiene. | Source

Some pets will allow you to scrape the tartar from their teeth and clean under the margins of the gums using a special tool. I believe I'll pass on that one.

Loose teeth can sometimes be salvaged with cleaning and several weeks of doxycycline therapy. Your pet's dentist can restore teeth, but your dog doesn't much care either way.

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    • Cammiebar profile image

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      I never saw any dog go after mint. I wouldn't blame them, either haha

    • giocatore profile image

      giocatore 5 years ago

      It must be the yummy poultry or beef flavor. Do you think dogs like mint?

    • Cammiebar profile image

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      I have a friend who brushes her dog's teeth with doggie toothpaste . . . It's kind of interesting to watch. The dog is more interested in eating the toothpaste than anything else.

    • giocatore profile image

      giocatore 5 years ago

      When I was a kid, our dog would eat socks. Not sure what the effect was on teeth and breath.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

      My yellow lab, Blondie, used to eat ice cubes by the trays full. I mean 4-8 trays worth a day. Her teeth were clean and breath fresh. I only wish my new lab, Lexi, would catch on. LOL. Some days you've wonder where she's been.