Now I’m sure none of us would expect our dog to have “minty fresh” breath, but it shouldn’t smell so bad that you can’t stand to be near their mouth. There could be several reasons for your dogs’ bad breath including a broken, decayed or abscessed tooth, mouth tumors, periodontal disease, gingivitis, diabetes, sinus infections, and inflammation of the gums, kidney disease, and gastrointestinal problems. This is not an exhaustive list, but you can clearly see that it’s not as simple as “fixing your dogs’ bad breath”. You’ll have to become a bit of a detective, and I would recommend that you visit your Veterinarian and get some help working out the cause as some of these health issues listed are serious.
The first step is to simply look at your dogs teeth and see if there is yellowish brown ‘stains’ where the teeth insert into the gums – this is plaque.
If the bad breath is temporary, it is only there sometimes, then it’s quite likely just something your dog has eaten, and it is worth keeping a log of what you are feeding to work out the cause. Some canned food will result in foul smelling breath, but some raw meat can have the same results. A dog that dines on the garbage or off food regularly will also display bad breath. If any of these are possibilities, then I suggest you find a way to keep you remove all access the garbage, change his/diet or test feeding different brands for several days at a time, to see if that makes a difference. If it is just bad breath from something being eaten, one helpful tip is to squeeze a drop or two of lemon into his water.
If you’ve ruled out anything consumed, it’s time to consider a possible health issue. The most common cause of foul breath in your canine is periodontal disease. Just like people, food particles get stuck in between your dogs’ teeth. Decomposed food causes bacteria and this combination results in plaque. This is no different than in people. Plaque appears as a yellowish, brownish film on the dog’s teeth. Untreated plaque will develop gingivitis and will ultimately progress into periodontal disease.
All dogs need their teeth cleaned, and the most natural way to do this is through feeding good quality bones.
Dry dog food will NOT clean your dogs teeth!
If you can’t feed bones regularly, brushing their teeth is the best way to proactively prevent this health issue and it is also one of the best ways to resolve it while it’s in the early stages.
You can purchase toothbrushes especially for dogs, and these are the best to use. You may also consider a finger brush; a rubber cap with rubber bristles that goes over your finger. Some dogs aren’t comfortable with the toothbrush and you may have better luck with the finger brush. If you start brushing your dogs’ teeth when he/she is a puppy, there shouldn’t be any problems with it as an adult dog. Even if you’re starting with an older dog start by letting him/her sniff and lick the toothpaste. Make this a positive experience. Lots of praise and be very gentle. You may not get all the teeth brushed the first time. It’s more important for both of you to have fun with it. Actually, the brushing is not so much what works on a dog, the canine toothpaste is designed chemically to remove the tartar – the brush is really only used to apply the toothpaste.
As for toothpaste… do NOT use human toothpaste. It shouldn’t be swallowed and dogs don’t like the taste. You can buy toothpaste for dogs or you can try out making your own.
- 6 tsps. baking soda
- 2 dashes of salt
- 4 tsp. glycerine
- 2 tsps. either beef or chicken broth
If there is evidence of swelling of the gums or gingivitis, adding a little crushed sage may help with the swelling.
It’s important that you provide your pet with chewing opportunities. Dental chews can be purchased and will help to prevent tartar and plaque build-up. Bones, rawhide, dried pig’s ears etc. are a great way to avoid plaque build-up. Be careful of the bones you choose; heavy shin and shank bones are best. Do NOT give your dog chicken bones or cooked bones.
You can also take your dog into the Vet on a regular basis for a thorough teeth cleaning, however really a dietary and daily routine solution is far better. I
t’s also possible that there is an abscessed or decayed tooth that may need to be extracted. The only solution to this is a visit to the Vet.
If you suspect there are any other health issues that could be the cause of your dogs’ bad breath, ensure you get your dog to your Veterinarian for a correct diagnosis.
During this time you should keep a close eye on your pet for anything out of the ordinary. Watch for symptoms like abnormal drooling, blood or other discharge from the mouth. Is your pet sneezing or is there a discharge coming from his nose? Is he pawing at his mouth? Is he having difficulty eating or not wanting to eat? Do you notice any swelling in his face?
Also check out what’s happening at the rear. Is your dog constipated or does he have diarrhea? Is he passing gas? Bad odour from both ends… big trouble! Is he scratching himself? Does he eat grass but not his food? Is he vomiting? Anything you notice should be brought to the attention of his Veterinarian as they all help so much in a correct diagnosis. Remember, your dog cannot tell you or your veterinarian how he is feeling, so we can’t deal too much with true symptoms and have to rely on signs observed instead. So knowing your dog well and watching for deviations in anything about your dog is the best help you can offer your veterinarian.