Dear Labby: Bad Breath

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Dear Labby,Dear Labby_old

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


Dear Baited,
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.
does my breath smell
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.
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  1. Thanks so much for joining the hop. Great post. It could also be a broken tooth which can be hard to spot if it is in the way back.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Birthday AftermathMy Profile

  2. Do you have a preferred dental chew? I’ve tried a few with my pyrs and they’re able to chew through them in no time. I wonder if it’s actually helping! I do brush their teeth, but it’s nice to have something for them between brushings.
    Kelsie recently posted…My Dogs are So LazyMy Profile

    • We use the Zuke’s bones and Jack goes through the large ones pretty quickly too – a couple of minutes. We’ve tried the Blue Buffalo ones too.
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby: Bad BreathMy Profile

  3. Great reminder that teeth are an indicator of other health issues, not just about bad breath.
    Bailey recently posted…Beaglemania Book ReviewMy Profile

  4. Great suggestions Labby! There’s nothing worse than bad breath, human or canine!
    Cathy recently posted…THE WORLD CUP GAMES | WORDLESS WEDNESDAYMy Profile

    • I’m pretty happy Jack & Maggie have good doggie breath.
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby: Bad BreathMy Profile

  5. I normally love dog breath. But my husband was complaining about Honey’s breath recently so I started brushing her teeth. It seems to be helping.

    I hope the vet is able to help. Tooth problems can hurt.
    Pamela recently posted…Do You Wonder If Your Dog Is Happy?My Profile

  6. Good advice! Alma’s bad breath got her in for a dental checkup. All turned out to be okay and it was more of a case of her always breathing right in your face rather than having particularly bad breath. Charming, she is.
    Jen K recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 27: Dogs in VeniceMy Profile

  7. Don’t forget to check the dog’s mouth — gums, tongue (including the underside) — for any growths! My former pet sitter’s dog passed from oral cancer two summers ago. Lacie had increasingly bad breath but they thought it was just from bacteria or something she was eating. By the time they took her to the vet, the tumor was so advanced that the dog couldn’t eat her food any more, and there was nothing the vet could do for her. Jennifer has since been posting on FB regularly about the importance of checking your dog’s mouth, or letting the vet do it.
    Sue recently posted…Now That’s Much Better!My Profile

  8. I crack up each time I see the title “Dear Labby” because it is just too perfect! We have tried several dental chews and brush teeth regularly. Bentley LOVES the PetSafe Indigo Dental Sticks and Bones.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…We Were Walking in SunshineMy Profile

    • You’ll be glad to know we’ve started a “Dear Tabby” over on SlimKitty…
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby: Bad BreathMy Profile

  9. I agree with Dear Labby. Bad breath is not a good thing and usually signals a problem with teeth or gums or some other illness. Have your vet take a whiff and check it out…don’t forget smelling salts in case it is really bad breath…for the vet I mean.
    Emma recently posted…It’s Time To Weigh In On #HillsPet With HiloMy Profile

  10. Great post! My huskies breath are all pretty good, I mean, as far as dog breath goes! BOL
    I have smelled some pretty raunchy doggie breath though, and it is not fun!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Show your pet pride – Summer bargains!My Profile

  11. Excellent anwser! If the teeth are the problem it could be that the teeth are diseased and abscesses so yes best to get checked out by a vet. Clean the teeth then start over by brushing.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Thursday’s Barks And Bytes~FacesMy Profile

  12. Ooooh! My dogs have bad breath too! I don\’t understand it, they too are fed high quality food. I don\’t brush their teeth though – I know I should but Ugh! I\’ll see if the dental chew bones make a difference. Thanks for the reminder about canine oral health!Cathy Armato
    Cathy Armato recently posted…WORDLESS WEDNESDAY – Hiking With My DogMy Profile

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