Does your pooch’s breath make you say “pee-ew”? If so, you’re not alone. Dog owners all over the world suffer from the effects of their four-legged friend’s foul smell. In fact, dog bad breath is so common that many pet owners believe that’s just how things are supposed to be.
Dog owners, let us tell you: That is NOT how it’s supposed to be. Bad breath is not only unnatural, but it could indicate a serious health concern that’s gone undetected.
Want to know why your dog’s breath smells and how to fix it? We break it down for you below.
Why does my dog’s breath smell?
There are several reasons why your furbaby’s breath smells funky. Here are some of the most common causes.
1. They’re sick
If Fido has bad breath, one reason could be that he’s sick. There are several different diseases that cause bad breath for your dog, including diabetes, kidney disease, or liver problems. Diabetes usually causes breath to smell slightly sweet or fruity, while kidney disease tends to cause breath to smell like ammonia. If liver problems are to blame, expect a more rotten, foul smell.
Read more: 4 Important Vaccines Every New Pet Needs
2. They have a tumor
Another cause for your furbaby’s halitosis might be an oral tumor. These growths occur when cells in your pup’s mouth multiply at an unusually fast rate. In some cases, the tissue may grow faster than the body can supply blood flow to the area. Without blood flow, these growths begin to die, and when they do, your dog’s bad breath will smell like something dead.
3. They have a dental problem
Broken teeth, periodontal disease, or even just excessive plaque buildup can all cause bad breath for your pup. Each makes way for the increased growth of bacteria, which are often what produce the foul smell in the first place. If your pup’s breath gets worse, give their mouth a once-over for any obvious dental problems.
4. Something is stuck in their teeth
Sometimes your dog’s stinky smell is the result of an adventure gone wrong. Things pups like to investigate, like bones, sticks, and other non-food items, are usually innocuous, but sometimes these items can get stuck in your dog’s teeth. If there for very long, bacteria begins to grow, and Rover’s begins to stink.
5. They’re eating the wrong food
For some dogs, the cause of their bad breath is as simple as their diet. Not all dog food is created equal, and if their kibble is the wrong size or shape, they may not get any cleaning benefit from the crunchy stuff. Additionally, some foods use ingredients that contribute to plaque buildup and tooth decay, like sugars and additives.
We typically recommend Purina Pro Plan for most of our canine patients, but there is no one-size-fits-all doggy diet. If you have questions about which dog food is right for your pup, talk to your veterinarian.
How can I get rid of my dog’s bad breath?
For most dogs, there’s a simple solution to bad breath. What works for one pup won’t work for everyone, so talk to your veterinarian before pursuing one of these options.
1. Brush their teeth
Just like with us humans, dog bad breath often steps from poor oral hygiene. Daily brushing goes a long way toward healthy teeth and gums, even for our four-legged friends. Choose a toothpaste that’s specially formulated for dogs, as human toothpaste can upset a dog’s tummy.
Our sister hospital, Noe’s Ark Animal Hospital, has some great tips for how to brush your dog’s teeth:
2. Add a doggy mouthwash to their water bowl
While you can’t expect Buddy to gargle and spit each morning, you can still add a doggy mouthwash to his water bowl. Unlike Listerine or other human mouthwashes, these are safe for your pet to ingest. Look for one that removes tartar, not just covers the smell.
3. Give them dental chews
If your dog needs a quick breath freshener, a vet-approved dental chew can do the trick. Think of these as the doggy equivalent to popping in a stick of gum after a cup of coffee — it may sweeten your breath in a pinch, but it still doesn’t replace good oral hygiene.
4. Take them for a checkup
The very best way to fix your pooch’s putrid pant is to take them in for a checkup. Your veterinarian can examine them thoroughly to find the root cause of their bad breath and give you professional recommendations to improve their awful aroma.