HEALTH & CARE

Dog Bad Breath Cure: Tending for Fido’s Oral Health

Bad mouth breath
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

You may have been wondering for some time now what could possibly be the best dog bad breath cure for your pet. Well, the good news is that you are not alone in dealing with this type of problem; there are thousands of people who are also worried about their pet’s breath and have not also found a solution to their problem.

A lot of times, the problem can be brought about by a wrong diagnosis by the veterinarian or it could also be the owner’s own neglect in following the vet’s instructions. But either way, you can find actually find a cure although it may come through a series of trial and error.

Bad breath

We all tend to think that dogs naturally have bad breath but the truth is, if the breaths it too stinky, then there may probably be deeper, underlying health conditions involved. If we attempt to neglect it as just being a part of a normal dog’s traits, we may be allowing the condition to degenerate further. It is important to get the opinion of two or more vets in order to know what is really going on inside of your dog’s mouth and body. If you really want to deal with the problem, then you have to give it sufficient attention and provide the proper care needed.

Causes of dog bad breath

In order to find the right cure for bad dog breath, we need to understand first what its underlying cause is. This way, we will be able to find the best solution that will target the problem itself and not just mask it. There are plenty of products in the market which will offer you “instant’ relief from your dog’s breath but which only has a short span of effectiveness.

Hence, you will still encounter the same problem after about a few hours or so. If you really want to find a final solution to the problem, then you will have to dig deeper which can only mean some tests and screening in your vet’s office. So here are some of the common causes of bad breath in dogs:

  • Buildup of plaque and tartar. This is one of the most basic causes of bad breath in dogs and is often caused by lack of dental care or bad diet. Plaque and tartar are composed of food particles, saliva, minerals, and bacteria which accumulate on the teeth. The sulfur by-products of the bacteria’s metabolic activities are what cause the common bad doggy breath.
  • Gum and other oral diseases. Your dog may also be having bad breath due to gum diseases such as periodontal disease or they may be experiencing some oral problems such as the development of tumors and growths in their mouth. Periodontal disease is a condition in which your dog’s gums are inflamed and bleeding due to bacterial infection in the root of the tooth. Inflammation can also lead to the development of bumps or crevices in the gums where bacteria may not be easily reached by saliva or cleaned off by brushing. Broken or decaying teeth can also harbor bacteria and cause bad breath.
  • Eating garbage and other decomposing matter. A lot of times, we do experience our dogs eating from trash cans or even dead animals or feces. This is easy to determine since what they ate closely resembles their breath and so the problem is somewhat superficial. It will go away after a day or two when the dog has eaten a regular meal or washed it off with his saliva or by drinking water.
  • Particles of food stuck in between teeth. Sometimes, pieces of meat and other food eaten can remain stuck on their teeth leading to foul breath. This is due to the decay of the food matter as well as the accumulation of bacteria feeding off on the particle of food. Most of the time, the food can be lodged so deeply in between teeth that your dog will not be able to remove it with their tongue.
  • Teething periods. A dog can also experience bad breath when they are teething. This is caused by the deciduousness of the baby teeth which is much easier for bacteria to stick to. As the older teeth gets pushed out, the gums will also be more prone to infection as it is stretched and opened up to give way for the much larger and permanent teeth.
  • Digestive and elimination problems. If your dog doesn’t have any decaying teeth or any other dental problem, the bad breath may well be caused by problems in their digestive system. There are several situations in which this may arise:
    • Lack of acidity in the stomach. If your dog does not have sufficient acidity in his stomach, chances are his food will not be digested properly leading to the fermentation of food. A low acidity can also lead to the increase of bad bacteria in the stomach. The stench will often come up to his mouth as the food putrefies in his stomach.
    • Lack of digestive enzymes. Aside from stomach acidity, the lack of digestive enzymes will also lead to the food putrefaction. The enzymes helps to break down the chemical structure of food and are often derived from protein sources and fruits and vegetables.
    • Constipation or poor bowel movement. If your dog is not able to eliminate his stool regularly, chances are he will be having a proliferation of bacteria in his gut which can lead to bad breath.
  • Poor nutrition and lack of necessary vitamins and minerals. Your dog can also experience bad breath if you are not feeding them with a healthy diet. For example, if they are eating a purely meat or a pure carbohydrate diet you definitely notice some smell coming from their mouth. This is due to the fact that these foods can create an acidic environment in the mouth which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Poor metabolism and organ problems. Problems in your dog’s metabolism, such as diabetes, and kidney problems can also lead to breath problems. Dogs with diabetes are known to have a sweet smelling breath while those with kidney disease have a sour one.

Remedies for your dog’s bad breath

The appropriate solution to your pet’s breath problem will depend on the source or cause of the condition. It is therefore important to have your vet assess and examine your dog first before applying any type of cure that comes into mind.

Dog brushing teeth

You may not only be wasting your time and money, you may also be contributing to the further deterioration of their condition. Remember to never take the problem into your own hands except if you are a veterinarian yourself. A lot of people commit this mistake thinking that sufficient research will be the solution to their pet’s problem. But the fact is that there may still be a lot of underlying conditions that you may not know of about your dog.

  • Give your pet enough drinking water. This is quite easy and it is also one of the most effective if the problem is mainly on the dog’s mouth. Water helps to flush out the bacteria in the mouth and it also helps to kill some of them. Bacteria tend to increase in number in a drier mouth than in one that is sufficiently supplied with saliva whose main component includes water. Make sure to keep your dog well-hydrated and you will be enjoying their breath soon.
  • Put some vinegar, enzymes, and other drinkable dental cleaning products on their water. If your dog seems to be having problems with plaque and tartar, adding these ingredients can help loosen the accumulated plaque and tartar and also kill the bacteria. Add about a tablespoon of these products to their drinking water every day. Take note though that chlorhexidine, which is a common dental cleaning ingredient, has a bitter taste and your dog may not like it.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth at least twice daily. This is really helpful in removing food particles as well as acidic by-products which contributed to tooth decay in dogs. Since the bacteria will be constantly removed, they will have lesser chances of multiplying inside your dog’s mouth.
  • Give your pet chew toys or dog bones that are safe for them. Chew toys and raw bones in the right size helps to scrape off plaque and tartar from a dog’s teeth more effectively than dry kibble. One of the advantages of these products against kibble is that they do not contain carbohydrates and grain products which can stick to your dog’s tooth. Some chew toys also come with dental treatment ingredients and enzymes which are good for cleaning your dog’s teeth.
  • Have your pet’s teeth examined at least twice a year. A visit to a dental veterinarian will come a long way for your pet’s oral health. Aside from the fact that they will be able to detect any dental problems early on, they can also apply the needed treatment effectively. For example, they can much more efficiently clean your pet’s teeth with their equipment and cleaning substances.
  • Feed your dog a natural diet. This is not saying that commercial dog food is not right for your pet. But the additional nutrient that your pet can have from natural food is definitely way better than synthetic vitamins and minerals that are added on to commercial food. Some of the best types of food to give them are carrots and herbs such as parsley, sage, mint, and coriander. Lemon juice is also a good addition to their meals. Never try giving your dog garlic to treat their bad breath as it can cause anemia.
  • Add enzymes and supplements to their food. If your dog is suffering from digestive problems, then adding the needed enzymes or probiotics will greatly help in their digestion. Some of these include papain, lysozyme, and glucose oxidase. For a more available option, you can try adding yogurt as well to aid in the production of good bacteria in the gut.
  • Provide enough exercise for good metabolism. Sometimes, your pet may only be needing some exercise to get a proper circulation and good metabolism. This also aids in the supply of oxygen which is much needed in fighting bacterial infection and in metabolic processes in the cellular level.
  • Add vitamins and minerals to their diet. If your pet has diabetes or kidney problems, adding Vitamin C and B complex especially niacin will be of great help. Vitamin C helps improve the immune system and B complex is also needed for nerve functions which are much needed by the kidneys.

Your vet’s important role

Even with all of the above-mentioned “home” treatments for your pet, a visit to the veterinarian will still be your best option. You can never do it all on your own since you don’t have the needed knowledge and experience to deal with your dog’s overall health. They also have the needed materials and equipment in case your pet will need some lab work to be done. Your dog’s bad breath may not only be caused by what they recently ate or by tartar buildup. In these cases, if the problem is about their organs, then you will need some x-rays and blood work to be done.

Dog at the dentist checking

Your vet will be able to point out exactly what is the problem with your pet through these examinations. Their knowledge about medical conditions in dogs will help them determine what’s ailing them by looking at their symptoms as well as their medical test results.

Although there are some medical information and tips that you can find on the web, these are not complete and are just given to help you understand what is going on in your pet. They are not intended to provide professional advice as to the proper treatment of your pet or to be the ultimate source of knowledge about your pet’s health. Your veterinarian’s experience as well as their knowledge about dog health will be more effective in dealing with your pet’s bad breath problems.

Caring for your dog’s oral health

Ultimately, it will be your responsibility to care for your dog’s dental needs since they will not be able to do it on their own. Remember that although your pet has natural ways of dealing with mouth problems, they still cannot do this perfectly. Even when their saliva and tongue can mechanically remove some bits and pieces of food as well as hinder the growth of bacteria, there will come a time when they will not be perform this function effectively.

Examples, of such instances are when they are sick and their saliva’s acidity increases, when the food is buried deep between teeth, and when they have underlying health conditions such as diabetes.

Dental infographic

Veterinarians recommend that oral care practices should start early on in a dog’s life. So, it would be best if you can start brushing or cleaning their teeth while they are still puppies. This way, they will get more accustomed to having their mouth opened and cleaned before they become bigger and much harder to handle.

Aside from that, preventing dental problems start by frequently cleaning their teeth to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. These two are the most common causes of bad breath in dogs and if they are not addressed early on, chances are they will develop into a more serious problem, periodontitis, when they turn one or two years old. This is a more serious dental problem which attacks the teeth’s foundation and is also irreversible.

Bad breath problems in dogs are very common so you don’t have to worry that you might be dealing with this alone. The causes can range from a food that they have recently eaten, plaque or tartar, poor digestion or elimination, or decaying teeth which is a good breeding ground for oral bacteria.

Just as there are various causes for this condition, so there are also plenty of treatment options to choose from. You can simply give them more drinking water, dental chews, provide fresh and natural food, add enzymes and supplements, as well as brush their teeth daily to help address the problem.

Bad breat dog treatment

But, in conjunction with these home treatments, you also need to bring your dog to a veterinarian so they can undergo a more thorough assessment and examination to point out underlying causes.

A veterinarian will have better ability and equipment to really take a look at what’s going on inside your dog’s body which causes the offensive breath. This can range from a malfunctioning kidney or a problem with metabolizing sugar to cancerous growths in their mouths which can lead to more difficult problems if left untreated for some time. Remember to have your pet visit a dental veterinarian and a general veterinarian twice a year for a more thorough and efficient health examination.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • Florence Riley

    So true, our dogs need to have a regular oral care regimen to drive plaque and bad breath away. I make it a regular habit to brush my dog’s teeth twice a day after meals. Not only do their breath smell nicer, their health is protected as well.

    • I’m definitely sure your dog has glistening, pearly whites. That is such a great practice. Thanks for sharing, Florence!

  • Therese Smithson

    We have 2 dogs and although I give them the same food, one has really bad breath! It really reeks of rotten trash. What can I possibly do? She even loves giving licks and kisses. Could it be a rotten tooth? I regularly brush their teeth so I don’t understand where the smell is coming from! I even gave him doggy mints, still no luck. Her breath still smells. :(

    • A dental x-ray can be done to further observe the tightest corners inside your dog’s mouth. A rotten tooth is likely, although it can also be a digestive problem. Be careful with the doggy mints though, and make sure to check its ingredients.

  • Emily B.

    My dog never had these problems. Probably because since childhood I personally do brushing every week. The vet always says that the teeth are in excellent condition, and my Labrador Retriever is almost 8 years old!

  • That is such a great practice worth sharing, Emily. Brushing not only saves you from the doggy breath, it also saves you lots of money from dental-related problems that may arise due to lack of maintained oral hygiene.

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