How to get rid of bad dog breath

How to get rid of bad dog breath

We all love our dogs unconditionally. But if they’ve got bad breath it can make even the most devoted owner recoil and take an arm’s length approach to petting their pooch.

The good news is there is normally something you can do about your dog’s bad breath – in fact, ignoring it could be overlooking an indication that they have a health problem, so it’s important that you do.

In this article, we’ll look at the causes of bad dog breath and what you can do to make it a little less smelly so that your rekindle that close bond with your hound.

If you manage to get on top of your dog’s bad breath now, the less likely it is you’ll need to make an appointment with your vet later on. Fewer visits to the vet mean smaller pet bills and fewer claims on your dog insurance policy.

So, let’s look at some of the causes of bad dog breath, which will guide you on what course of action to take with your pup.


Causes of bad breath

By and large, bad breath is nothing sinister. If you regularly brush your dog’s teeth and maintain good oral health, there’s no reason their breath should be unbearably smelly. So if it is, you should consult your vet sooner rather than later.

A dog yawning

Plaque and bacteria

This most common cause of bad dog breath is the build-up of plaque and bacteria.

If you don’t brush your dog’s teeth – your pet might not make it easy for you to get a brush in his mouth – or sometimes skip the chore, your canine might develop periodontal disease, in which the ligaments holding the teeth in the jaw get loose, resulting in tooth loss.

Periodontal disease won’t just develop overnight, it will be the product of a prolonged period of bad oral health.

In addition to bad breath, a sign that your dog has periodontal disease is him not wanting to eat. Much like humans, if your dog is experiencing tooth pain, he won’t want to put anything in his mouth.

Refusing to eat could also be the result of a build-up of toxins in the body – damage to the dental ligaments allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream and be carried to the heart, liver and kidneys.


Licking faeces

Dogs aren’t always the healthiest in their attitudes to faeces, whether it be their own or another creature’s.

While you might understand the reasons why your dog has a fascination with faeces, that doesn’t make it any better to stomach should he decide to eat some cat poop or some other unknown animal’s deposit.

As if cat poop wasn’t bad enough, some dogs eat their own faeces or the faeces of other dogs, which can lead to a condition called coprophagia that causes bad breath in dogs.

Try as you might, you can’t always ensure that your dog doesn’t indulge in these unsavoury behaviours. But, if you find your pup obsessively licking his anus, it could be a sign his anal glands need expressing, which would require a visit to the vet.


Kidney disease

Around 10% of dogs will develop kidney disease in their lifetime and one of the signs of the disease is bad breath with a chemical odour.

This is due to a build-up of toxins in the blood which can be emitted on the breath, with the smell said to be reminiscent of urine.

Other signs of kidney disease include increased thirst and urination, so if this is something you have noticed in your dog, a trip to the vet is imperative.


Treating bad breath

A dog with its mouth open up close

Clearly, the best course of action to solve your dog’s bad breath depends on its underlying cause. However, if you don’t notice any additional symptoms other than the bad breath, here are some steps to try and freshen up the situation:


Brush your dog's teeth

If you act quickly enough, you might be able to reduce plaque and tartar build-up therefore preventing tooth decay and gum disease – by giving your dog’s teeth a good scrub.

If your dog isn’t used to having his teeth cleaned it can be somewhat alien for you to come at them with a brush, so you may need to be strategic as to how you go about it.

You should buy a dog-specific toothpaste which has been designed to appeal to your canine’s taste buds. Place a bit on your finger so that he can get a taste for it, before putting some on an angled toothbrush, specially designed for a dog’s mouth.


A clean and polish

If the plaque and tartar has been sitting on your dog’s teeth for some time, you may need to go to the vets for a dental clean and polish.

They will use an ultrasonic descaling tool to remove plaque from the teeth, both above and below the gum line. Polishing the teeth makes it harder for bacteria to stick to them in the future.

Vet treatments may include a general anaesthetic in order for a thorough clean and polish to take place. It’s important you follow-up any dental procedure with a regular tooth brushing routine.

Consider an annual clean and polish to keep your dog’s mouth disease-free.


Dental treats

As well as regularly brushing your dog’s teeth – or if your dog makes it hard for you to do it – give him a dental treat to chew on. Chewing is your dog's natural way of cleaning his teeth, and it improves his breath in the process.

There are plenty of dog dental chews on the market, but it’s crucial that you choose the right ones for your pooch.

While many dogs consume dental chews without suffering any ill effects, some dogs have suffered health problems associated with the use of teeth-cleaning treats.

Ask your vet to show you chew toys and treats that are appropriate for your pet.

A dog chewing a dental chew

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