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Bad Breath in Dogs

We all know bad breath—also known as halitosis—when we smell it. Bad breath is the result of a build-up of odor-producing bacteria in your dog's mouth, lungs or gut. Persistent bad breath can indicate that your dog needs better dental care or that something is wrong in his gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys. In all cases, halitosis is a red flag that should be investigated.

What Is Bad Breath Caused By?

Most often, canine bad breath is caused by dental or gum disease, and certain dogs—particularly small ones—are especially prone to plaque and tartar. However, persistent bad breath can also indicate larger medical problems in the mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract or organs.

How Can I Determine The Cause of My Dog's Bad Breath?

Your veterinarian is the best person to pinpoint the cause. A physical examination and laboratory work may be performed. Be ready to answer questions about your dog's diet, oral hygiene, exercise habits and general behavior.

When Is It Time To See The Vet?

If your dog's breath suddenly has an unusual smell, please consult your veterinarian. The following cases can signal to medical problems that need immediate treatment.

  • Unusually sweet or fruity breath could indicate diabetes, particularly if your dog has been drinking and urinating more frequently than usual.
  • Breath that smells like urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
  • An unusually foul odor accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite, and yellow-tinged corneas and/or gums could signal a liver problem.

How Is Bad Breath Treated?

Treatment depends on your vet's diagnosis. If plaque is the culprit, your dog might require a professional cleaning. If it's an issue of diet, you might have to change your dog's regular food. If the cause is gastrointestinal or an abnormality in your dog's liver kidneys or lungs, please consult your vet about steps you should take.