Bad breath in dogs - Causes, symptoms and treatment

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The bad breath in dogs it is a very common problem. On many occasions, we make the mistake of considering that it is something normal and we do not take any type of measure to reduce it. However, halitosis in dogs is not only unpleasant, it is often related to certain oral diseases.

Then, ¿What do I do if my dog's breath smells? If we have detected that our furry's mouth smells bad, it is very important to identify its cause and apply a treatment as soon as possible. For this reason, in this AnimalWised article we have gathered the main causes of bad breath in dogs, associated symptoms and their treatment.

You may also be interested in: Gingivitis in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Index
  1. Why does my dog's breath smell bad?
  2. Symptoms of bad breath in dogs
  3. How to eliminate bad breath in dogs?

Why does my dog's breath smell bad?

Dogs are in constant contact with the ground and everything on it. For this and other reasons, occasional bad breath is normal. However, when halitosis in dogs appears chronically, it is usually due to certain oral diseases and other more unsuspected reasons.

These are the possible causes of bad breath in dogs:

  • Smelly food: some dogs have a habit of eating everything they find on the ground. Swallowing something smelly can cause bad breath in dogs. A good example are those hairy ones that practice coprophagia, that is, they eat feces.
  • Trauma: Due to a fall or fight, many dogs suffer dental breaks, as well as injuries to the gums or mouth. These are an open door for the entry of microorganisms, whose action can cause bad odors..
  • Periodontitis: it is the main cause of bad breath in dogs. It is the inflammation of the structures that hold the teeth to the jaw. This inflammation is due to an infection by bacteria, which produce a series of smelly compounds.
  • Lack of dental hygieneNot routinely brushing the dog's teeth is another of the main causes of bad breath, as well as oral diseases such as the aforementioned periodontits. This is because poor hygiene leads to the accumulation of tartar and bacteria..
  • Other diseasesSome diseases that affect other organs can cause bad breath in dogs. This is the case of some gastrointestinal, respiratory or metabolic pathologies. The odor is produced inside the body but comes out through the mouth.

Periodontitis in dogs

As we anticipated, periodontal disease in dogs is the main cause of halitosis. Before it occurs, a series of processes take place that we must prevent.

First of all, bacteria accumulate on the teeth of the dogs forming the well-known plaques. Subsequently, the minerals present in saliva are incorporated. This is how tartar is formed. If the bacteria continue to spread, they can infect the gums, causing a disease known as gingivitis. This is when bacteria begin to invade the ligaments and bones that support the teeth..

Finally, other more dangerous bacteria appear: anaerobic gram-negative ones. These bacteria ferment the food that accumulates in the infected area, as well as some compounds present in the saliva. As a result, a series of sulfur substances are produced that cause the characteristic fishy breath in dogs or sour milk.

Periodontitis causes a lot of pain in dogs and is the main cause of tooth loss. Therefore, it is essential to act before it occurs. However, this is not the only consequence of this disease and other pathologies that also cause bad breath. The bacteria that cause these pathologies can reach the bloodstream and develop other damages such as kidney or heart failure, among others. For this reason, going to the vet in case of detecting halitosis in the dog is so important.

Causes of bad breath in puppies

In puppies, periodontitis is very rare, as not enough time has passed for it to occur. However, they often have some halitosis. It is mainly due to the eruption of adult teeth.

Changing teeth in puppies is very painful. To try to relieve themselves, they have the urge to bite everything in their path. In this process they can injure their gums and have infections that could cause halitosis.

Other causes of bad breath in puppies are stool intake Y some non-oral diseases.

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Symptoms of bad breath in dogs

Now that we know the main causes of bad breath in dogs, you may wonder how to identify if it is a normal smell or if, really, there is a problem. To do this, we must attend to both the type of smell and other symptoms that may appear.

If your dog's halitosis occurs occasionally, he may be eating something smelly. In addition, there are other types of odors that we can consider normal. Like us, dogs often have bad breath in the morning. This is because very little saliva secretion occurs at night. As a consequence, the normal bacteria in the mouth are more active and produce a bad odor..

The latter also occurs in elderly dogs, in which the amount of saliva decreases. As a consequence, they are more prone to periodontitis and other oral diseases. To identify them, we must attend to another series of symptoms that may appear, such as:

  • Very intense smell: Too strong an odor indicates pathologies in the mouth. Fishy breath in dogs is very characteristic of periodontitis.
  • Excessive salivation: when an infection occurs in the mouth, the dog's body begins to produce more saliva.
  • Paws on snout: dogs put their paws on their muzzles to try to relieve tooth and gum pain.
  • Loss of appetite: many dogs may stop eating if their mouth hurts a lot.
  • Tartar- Plaque buildup can also give off an unpleasant odor, especially when the level of tartar is very high.
  • Swollen and red gums: Due precisely to the accumulation of tartar, the gums can be inflamed and red. This can also lead to difficulty chewing due to pain, which can lead to an apparent loss of appetite..
  • Loss of teeth: as in the previous case, a severe accumulation of bacterial plaque can lead to the loss of teeth.

For all the above, inspecting the mouth of dogs is often essential to identify if there is a health problem in the cavity.

How to eliminate bad breath in dogs?

To eliminate bad breath in dogs, it is highly recommended go to a vet. In this way, a professional will be able to diagnose our dog and choose the best treatment for him. If it is a periodontitis, surely it is necessary to carry out a deep oral cleaning.

After veterinary treatment, we must maintain dental cleaning at home. For this, as we will see now, there are a large number of easy-to-apply products..

Products for bad breath in dogs

To treat bad breath in dogs, a number of products available in pet stores and veterinary clinics can be used. Some of them are:

  • Dental sticks: the dog should take one a day. They contain compounds that eliminate bacteria and bad odors. In addition, the act of chewing removes plaque from the teeth and increases saliva secretion..
  • Toothpaste: applied daily with the help of a toothbrush. They help reduce the number of bacteria and contain certain products that reduce odor.
  • Gels: applied once a week to reduce bacterial plaque. They usually contain antimicrobial products, such as chlorhexidine.
  • Spray toothpastes: not all dogs tolerate their humans brushing their teeth periodically, that is why we also find liquid toothpastes on the market that also combat the accumulation of bacterial plaque and, therefore, eliminate bad breath in dogs. These toothpastes can be sprayed directly on the animal's teeth without rinsing afterwards..
  • Mouthwash: in the same way that we have mouthwashes to improve breath and promote teeth cleaning, we find these products designed specifically for dogs and cats. These are solutions for daily use that can be mixed with water to favor its administration..
  • Algae: It has been shown that certain algae, such as Ascophyllum nodosum, help reduce bad breath in dogs by up to 60%, therefore, we currently find several products that include them in their formulation. Some of these products are marketed in the form of dietary supplements that are mixed with the animal's usual food, while others are in the form of snacks or treats..
  • Tablets: As in humans, there are pills for bad breath in dogs. However, before using them we must consult with our veterinarian.

All of these products are just an adjunct to professional dental care that a veterinarian should perform. In addition, before choosing those that we are going to use, it is advisable to seek the advice of a professional.

On the other hand, it should be noted that a adequate food it is also essential to ensure good oral health. To combat the accumulation of tartar and, therefore, eliminate bad breath in dogs, dry food is recommended. Likewise, if we follow a natural and homemade diet, recreational bones are excellent substitutes for dental sticks because they also help the animal to eliminate the food accumulated between the teeth. Recreational bone is those bones that are not part of the animal's diet and whose objective is to entertain it and, of course, clean its teeth. They should always be raw, never cooked, and preferably they should be chosen with the advice of a veterinarian specialized in nutrition. You will find all the information here: "BARF diet for dogs ".

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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