Dear Labby: Bad Breath
I’m afraid to admit this, but my dog has bad breath…really bad…don’t come near me bad. He eats pretty good food, what could be causing this problem?
Awaiting your Answer with Baited Breath
There could potentially be many causes for your dog’s bad breath, just as there are many reasons a human may have bad breath. Halitosis is caused by a build up of bacteria in the mouth. Since dogs generally eat a fairly soft diet, tartar can easily build-up on their teeth and create plaque and bad breath.
Typically, if it only happens occasionally, it is likely something he ate – did he get into something unusual or particularly foul? Jack tends to have a liking for coyote poop and I can always tell when he has found a prize. Also, feeding them table scraps – particularly items with garlic could be a factor. We feed various dental chew bones to help remove tartar build up and even though Jack & Maggie are seniors, their teeth – and their breath are in pretty good shape.
If the odor is persistent, you probably want to look deeper as it may be poor dental hygiene or even a gastrointestinal cause. Particular odors may also provide clues. A sweet smelling, sugary breath may indicate diabetes, if it smells like urine, it could be related to a kidney disorder.
Your first stop should be at your vet’s. If it’s related to dental hygiene, they can provide the necessary tools and training for you to learn to brush your dog’s teeth. Yes, you read that right, brush your dog’s teeth. We had another reader write in last year about cleaning their dog’s teeth and we were lucky enough to have an expert provide the answer for us.
If it’s not their teeth, then your vet will likely run some tests to rule out other underlying causes.
Remember, it’s up to you to care for your dog’s teeth – they can’t brush themselves, so start with healthy teeth and hopefully his breath will improve also. Good luck and let us know how it goes.