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Why Does My Dog Have Halitosis?

Updated on September 15, 2016

There are several reasons why dogs have halitosis or simply, bad breath. When you consider some of the functions a dog’s mouth performs: licking its private parts, licking dirty spaces and items, eating poop, eating garbage, having stinky breath is almost inevitable. There are also serious causes of canine halitosis, which if left unchecked, could lead to even worse health problems.

Teeth of an Azawakh (dog)
Teeth of an Azawakh (dog) | Source

Serious Causes for Bad Breath in Dogs

1. Poor dental hygiene, which leads to a buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria.

2. Periodontal disease due to the buildup of plaque and tartar. Research shows that at least 50 percent of dogs, especially the smaller breeds, suffer from this. The buildup eventually sends bacteria into the dog’s gums and down to the roots of its teeth where it develops infection. The infection can then wind up in the pooch’s bloodstream and travel to its internal systems and organs such as the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver.

3. An unattended loose or cracked tooth which creates a passageway for bacterial buildup and an infection that will reach the root over time. This too will create some of the serious heath problems mentioned in the previous cause.

Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky | Source

Determining the Causes of Canine Halitosis

1. Through observation. Pay closer attention to what Fido is putting in his mouth, and that includes his meals.

2. Check for food that may be stuck in between the dog’s teeth. Just like with humans, a piece of food could get lodged in between your dog’s teeth for days or months, and eventually create havoc.

3. Check for tartar and plaque buildup.

4. Check for yellow, brown, or dark stains on the dog’s teeth.

4. Check for broken or loose teeth, especially if bones are part of your canine’s diet.

5. Check for mouth sores, again especially if the dog is consuming bones. They can cut or bruise its gums and those can turn into sores.

6. Check for tooth decay.

7. Check for swollen, red, or yellowing gums, and/ or a swollen face. These are all signs of infection.

8. Check for growths or tumors on the dog’s cheeks, gums, and tongue.

Chihuahua mixed
Chihuahua mixed | Source

Treatments and Cures for a Dog’s Bad Breath

1. Move the cat’s litter box and the garbage can to unattainable places.

2. Change Fido’s diet. You may be feeding your dog an overabundance of wet or soft food and/ or treats. If so, purchasing some chew toys or bones can help reduce the tartar and plaque buildup. There are also specially-made treats on the market to help reduce or prevent bad breath. The article “Natural Treatment of Bad Breath in Dogs: Cure the Halitosis in Canines” from the website, suggests giving your canine foods such as raw peeled carrots, mint or parsley to freshen its breath. Another website suggests giving your pooch raw, natural meat or chicken bones or fenugreek pills (dried seeds or leaves of a plant belonging to the pea family, and first used by ancient Egyptians for culinary, medicinal, and mummification purposes), which can be found at health food stores.

3. If it is a simple buildup of plaque and/ or tartar, start brushing your precious pal’s teeth daily. There is specially-formulated toothpaste for dogs, which can be purchased at any pet store.

4. Visit your veterinarian to determine whether your dog’s halitosis is the result of a serious health issue. In this case, sometimes, the dog may give you indications such as changing its eating and drinking habits: eating less, drinking more; regurgitating more often; urinating frequently or infrequently; being diarrheic; or being less active.

Note, this article is about bad breath, but a dog’s breath could suddenly begin to smell sweet and that too would be indication of a health problem, usually diabetes.

5. Your vet could prescribe antibiotics for the dog.

Halitosis According to Size of Breeds

In Your Opinion, Which Size Dogs Are More Prone to Halitosis?

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Dog's Oral Care

Preventing Halitosis in Dogs

1. Practice brushing your canine’s teeth daily. If you start while the dog is still in puppy stage, it will be much easier for it to get used to the activity.

2. Practice flossing as well. And again, it best to begin when the animal is young.

3. Feed your dog quality, nutritionally-balanced food that includes protein from meat, chicken, fish, eggs, or legumes; carbohydrates from oats, wheat, pasta, or brown rice; vitamins and minerals from fruits (except grapes, raisins, which can cause kidney failure, and intestinal blockage, and cherries, plums, peaches, pears, and apples or any other fruit with toxic seeds or pits) and vegetables (except onion, garlic, avocado, raw potato, which are all toxic) such as the leafy kind; fats from fish or vegetable oils, and accompany the food with fresh, clean water.

4. Avoid feeding your loveable canine table scraps, which can increase plaque and tartar buildup.

5. Constant feeding can also lead to an increase in plaque and tartar, so limit Fido’s daily meals.

6. Give your dog treats that are specially-formulated to prevent foul breath and / or hard toys as rawhide bones to chew on.

7. Pet and health food stores sell antiseptics, mouthwashes, and sprays to prevent (or combat) bacterial buildup and foul breath. Ask your vet for suggestions.

8. Frequently check your dog’s mouth for the aforementioned issues that can lead to halitosis.

9. Dental care for dogs is just as essential as dental care for humans. So, plan to do dental examinations biannually, or at least include it as part of your pet’s annual visit to the veterinarian.

Put these suggestions into practice and you will no longer have to ask why your four-legged companion’s breath smells disgusting or shy away from the loving licks and kisses.


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