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The Secrets Behind Puppy Breath

Updated on February 16, 2018
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant and author of Brain Training for Dogs.

What causes puppy breath? Why do puppies have puppy breath?
What causes puppy breath? Why do puppies have puppy breath?

What is Puppy Breath?

What exactly is puppy breath? I must confess I had no idea what puppy breath was until a veterinary technician lowered her face towards my Rottweiler puppies to receive her dose of "kisses" when she claimed: "Oh, I love puppy breath! Gimme some good ol' puppy breath!" When I got home, I had to sniff my pups' breath to have an idea of what she was talking about. I must confess I really didn't smell anything out of the ordinary. Sure, my pups' breath was way better than the breath of an older dog who has had tartar for many years or the breath of my cat-- which often made me wonder whether he secretly brushed his teeth with anchovy paste from time to time. So what is this puppy breath?

When working at the vet, I heard more and more people making remarks about puppy breath, so one day I had the guts to ask my co-worker and learn what people meant by it. Her answer was that puppy breath was simply a sweet scent that's different from an adult dog's breath. Another co-worker chimed in and said that it actually was sort of sweet and sour at the same time and that it was typical of all puppies. OK, I guess I would need to practice my nose more and focus on a puppy's breath when greeting so I could notice this phenomenon! Perhaps my nose wasn't that great or perhaps I never really focused on smelling breath when petting puppies.

However, my inquiry didn't end, if puppies have puppy breath, then what causes puppy breath in the first place? One of my co-workers said that it's likely their clean teeth and the fact that the pups were drinking milk from their mothers. I didn't totally buy that explanation though, as most puppies I heard people remark about puppy breath were already fully weaned. So what causes puppy breath in the first place? Read on for some possible answers to help crack the puppy breath mystery.

what causes puppy breath?
what causes puppy breath?

So What Causes Puppy Breath in Puppies?

As with explaining some mysterious dog behaviors, puppy breath appears to fall under the "I'm not sure why, but it's likely because of this" category. In other words, the reason may vary based on who you ask. Everybody seems to have his own explanation. Hopefully, more studies will be conducted on this so in the future we may have more conclusive answers. For now, let's be satisfied with what some experts in the field say.

Veterinarian Gregg DuPont in the book "Vet on Call, The Best Home Remedies for Keeping Your Dog Healthy", claims that the smell of puppy breath is related to bacteria levels in puppies' mouths. Basically, when puppies are teething, their gums tend to bleed slightly which creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. These large populations of bacteria are ultimately the underlying cause for that sweet scent of puppy breath. Then, when the pups mature, the number of bacteria decline making puppy breath only a short-term perk.

Veterinarian, consultant and author Thomas Catanzaro is another person who would gladly join the puppy breath lovers club. He goes as far as claiming:"Of all the things I miss from veterinary practice, puppy breath is one of the most fond memories." He fondly categorizes puppy breath under the "new car smell" category as "it disappears in a few months." As my co-workers, Catanzaro believes that the scent of puppy milk stems from ingesting milk and puppy food along with the enzymes responsible for breaking down these foods.

Finally, veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Prior has another explanation. She assumes that puppy breath stems from the puppy's esophagus, which is still developing, and thus, leaks gases into the puppy’s tummy.Worth asking this vet is what sort of gases these are to come out so pleasantly smelling, when normally gases coming from the mouth under the form of a burp or from the opposite side are sure far from having people gather around the puppy to get a whiff!

Regardless of what causes puppy breath,one thing is for sure, if you enjoy it, consider that puppy breath is short-lived, just as puppy hood is, so enjoy that puppy breath until it lasts.

Alexadry ©all rights reserved, do not copy.

© 2015 Adrienne Farricelli


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    Post Comment
    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      4 years ago

      Me too, miss puppy breath!

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Very sweet pictures, makes me wnat a puppy.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image

      Chantelle Porter 

      5 years ago from Chicago

      There is really nothing better than puppy breath.


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