Help! My dog has bad breath!

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bad breath

Bad breath, it stinks, especially when coming from your dog’s mouth. You love your dog and your dog loves you. But when he or she comes to give you a kiss, do you have to refuse to avoid bad breath? Do you feel like you are going to pass out when your furry friend is panting in your face? The first step is to determine the cause for the halitosis. Well here are 6 reasons why your dog might have bad breath.

Dental disease

This is probably the most common cause of bad breath. Dental tartar or “plaque” can build up on teeth from bacteria accumulation. As the bacteria continues to build up, it could lead to bone loss around the teeth leading to pockets in the gum. These pockets can trap food and other material causing infection of the gums. This infection leads to a bad smell and can form abscesses around the teeth roots. Once the disease becomes this advanced, a dental cleaning is needed. During this cleaning, it is likely that the infected teeth involved will need to be extracted to provide relief.


Coprophagy or Pica

Does your dog  indulge in eating undesirable things like feces? When taking your dog for a walk is everything imaginable going in the mouth? If that is the case, it may be the reason behind the bad breath. Coprophagy is the term used when feces is a chosen delicacy in dogs. Knowing how it smells, you can definitely understand why it causes bad breath. Pica is when your dog likes to put everything in the mouth outside of food. Some of these things can lead to the awful breath especially if dead animals are on the list. Coprophagy can be treated with deterrants like Forbid, or unseasoned meat tenderizer added to food. Keep in mind, this only works if your dog is only eating his own feces. Basket muzzles while walking your dog can help control pica if  he is prone to eating things. Also controlling the environment by keeping your pet away from things they may eat may help.

Skin fold dermatitis

If you have a breed with a lot of extra skin, this may be an issue. Some of these breeds may include Basset hounds, Bulldogs, Mastiffs, or Shar-peis. Moisture from excessive saliva can accumulate between skin folds attracting yeast and bacteria. A skin infection can follow leading to a bad smell. If this infection occurs around the skin folds near the mouth, the smell can appear to come from the there. Your veterinarian may choose to treat this condition with antibiotics and anti-fungal wipes.


Metabolic diseases

Metabolic diseases involve organs that are responsible for metabolizing toxins and drugs in the body. Some of these organs include the kidneys and the liver. In kidney disease, the removal of toxins from the blood are compromised. As toxins build up in the blood, they can produce a smell in the breath called uremic breath. This usually indicates a very serious illness and treatment may require hospitalization

Trauma in mouth

Trauma in the mouth can be caused by several reasons. Chewing on electrical wires can sometimes cause electric burns inside of the mouth. Your dog also can create wounds by chewing on sharp objects like bones, toys and sticks. If these wounds are deep or severe enough, they can get infected leading to an odor.


Oral tumors

Tumors in the mouth can alter the gums leaving them ulcerated, irritated, and infections can develop. They can also displace teeth and create an infection around the roots. Some of the most common oral tumors include melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and fibrosarcoma. Diagnosis is made by getting a biopsy of the mass inside of the mouth. Treatment can vary based on the type of tumor and how advanced the cancer is at the time of biopsy.


As you can see there are different possibilities for your dog’s bad breath. If you feel your dog has bad breath, it is important to rule out the cause with a visit to your veterinarian. The quicker bad breath can be addressed, the happier you and your pet will be.

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